,
Message sent from:

Our ‘Learning through Friendship’ project is a living, breathing project, very much kept alive with our yearly visits, enabling children from both schools to learn from and about one another through collaborative joint curriculum projects. 

Please scroll down to find further details about our past projects.

2017

The Women's Garden

It was truly inspiring to visit the womens garden at the back of the Soma school.  The transformation of this once barren land is quite staggering and both the progress and community wide impact of this space is such an uplifting success story.  The cultivation of this great expanse of land at the back of the school has been a dream that has been passed on from one Soma School headteacher to the next and so it is with great joy that the area is now a fully functioning garden, tended by mothers in the school community. Now, with a fully surrounding perimeter wall and new bore hole, the garden (now better known as an orchard) is a thriving landscape with an array of colourful crops, tended with much care and dedication by the women of Soma.  To see the full impact of this large space, a further bore hole is needed so that every inch of the land can be used to the very best effect and, already, there are a queue of women eagerly awaiting to work the land.  A simple garden plot can make such a difference to family life as the food grown can provide an income or it can be used to supplement food - either at home or as part of the World Food Programme in school. The president of the Soma School Mothers Club was full of praise and thanks for the support received so far and in honour of our visit, she gave us some vegetables to take back for our dinner such kindness shown from people who have so very little.

IMG_3818IMG_4053

The Rainbow Fish

Over 500 decorated fish travelled overseas from Hampshire to Soma, bringing an array of colour and sparkle to each of the classrooms.  The colourful fish, made by children in corresponding year groups, were welcomed with smiles and interest.  After listening to the story of the Rainbow Fish, some of the children had the opportunity to make and decorate rainbow fish of their own – some of which were used for our drama retelling of the story.

A huge mural of the story was painted on one of the walls as a lasting message of friendship, happiness and sharing.

img_3789(2)[1](1)IMG_4113(1)

Here is this year's newsletter with more detail of our trip.

2016

We had a large group visit this year including two of our Year 6 pupils - the first time we have taken pupils from our school.

We were very pleased to see that the Peace Garden at the school was thriving and colourful - we weeded and added more plants to make it more than beautiful. We extended the Peace Corner by painting a huge sunflower mural on the side of a room and have plans for planting trees next year to make this a really special area.

Another lovely surprise for us was how far the Womens' Garden behind the school had improved. Last year it was scrub land but in a year a bore hole has been installed and plots prepared - the bushes have gone and pick-axes have been used to break up the solid dry soil, and now plants are starting to grow. The food grown here will feed families throughout the year.

Lots of other activities took place in the classrooms. Mr Tyrrell took a maths lesson. Miss Thomas and Miss Stevenson made sunflowers (glue and tissue paper went everywhere!) and letters were written back to our pupils. Mr Taylor had an exhausting week taking football and netball lessons. Peace corners were set up in classrooms with pictures and letters from All Saints.

We also visited the rice fields - a vast area where the women grow rice to feed their families for the coming year. Over the years we have raised money to repair bridges crossing these precarious wet fields to make it safer - only two more bridges are needed now.

2015

We were amazed at the projects Miss Reece had achieved when we arrived this year.

We spent the week helping finish the new Peace Garden at the school - planting and installing a flag pole. We also gave the library a really good clean, sand gets everywhere!

Our timing was perfect to meet a very newly born Lamin Kinteh. His dad manages the Kaira Konko Scout Lodge. He recieved lots of cuddles that day!

We also take out various items that most Gambians can't afford such as reading glasses. A box is kept at the Lodge and towns people visit to find a pair. Clothes, donated by our families, were dished out and we made many children very happy!

2014

This year Mrs Wyld and her family, Mrs Porter, Miss Reece and Miss Wardle visited Soma during the half-term. They had a very productive and rewarding week working with the teachers and pupils at the soma school. Mrs Wyld and Mrs Porter haven't been for several years and they noticed a huge difference at the school and the town.

The school grounds now have a welcoming, friendly and happy feeling and the classrooms are in a much better all round condition.  Inside the classrooms are examples of children’s work, posters and pictures and this has been rewarding to see as in the past we have talked about the power of a good classroom environment leading to and aiding good teaching and learning.  The library is looking fabulous and we were thrilled to see that it is continuing to be visited by all the classes on a weekly basis for whole class guided reading sessions.

2013

We decided to focus on music. We took lots of copies of 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' with us. It's a book full of actions and sounds so children of all ages could join in. We took tambourines, triangles, kazoos etc with us and bought Gambian percussion instruments too such as gourd shakers and seed pod rattles. As we read the story the instruments joined in to make the noises of the river, grass and wind. It was lovely to see the children enjoy taking part in a story.

This year we crammed 178 knitted teddies into our suitcases! These had been knitted by ladies from a local church and from the charity ‘Teddies for Tragedies’. We gave some of them out to the Scouts, local children and some Soma pupils and raised many smiles. Toys and games are very rare for the Gambian children so the teddies were a treat for them.

2012

We held a mini Olympics using sports equipment bought with the money raised from the cake sales we held last year. 
Grade 6 took part in a penalty shoot out, Grade 5 relay races, Grade 4 javelin and Grade 3 were given an assortment of equipment to create games with. We will be recreating the same games at All Saints and will compare the results!

We also set up an Olympic Committee, similar to our one at All Saints, to promote the Olympic values of friendship, respect, excellence, determination, inspiration, courage and equality. 
We helped them create shorts dramas about each value which they showed to the school in their assembly.

Two other events made this year very special. One was the opening ceremony of two new classrooms built by the 'Hampshire Diamond Jubilee Gambia Project' of which we raised £6,700 towards.

The other event was Lamin Kinteh, the manager at Kaira Konko Scout Lodge and one of the original scouts that came to England in 1991, receiving a MBE for his dedication and services to scouting and education. 
Without Kinteh, our partnership with the Soma school could not thrive as much as it does. He has been able to advise us on how our fundraising can be put to best use and he personally ensures that the money is spent on relevant resources. He monitors the projects we have set up and has had a huge impact on our children when he has made visits to All Saints School.
We are very proud of him.

2011

The Kairo Konko Scout Band welcomed us with fabulous recorder playing that they'd been practising since we taught them recorders last year. This year, Mrs Wyld taught them 'Glory Glory Man United' and 'God Save the Queen'!

The Soma School has a new Head Teacher and Deputy (Mr Fatty) who highly welcomed us and showed us the improvements they'd made to the school in just a few months. In three days we planted an All Saints orchard, danced, watched several drama plays, painted, made displays, taught lessons to classes and phonics to teachers.

It was good to see the cupboards we'd raised money for several years ago in use and all the old furniture has been replaced.

We also saw the old building that schools in Hampshire are raising funds to replace which will include our 'Grow a Pound' money. This should be built later this year.
We took a selection of the baby clothes our parents had donated to a traditional bush village and gave the rest to the families in Soma.

2010

Once again we stayed at the wonderful Kaira Konko Scout Lodge which welcomes the children of Soma to play safely there. Many children welcomed us and wore our old style All Saints sweat shirts that had been shipped out to them last year!

We were invited to a grand opening at the Soma School of two new classrooms provided by Winchester University attented by The Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire and the Gambian High Commissioner. Our staff then spent some time observing lessons and then sharing ideas about using resources with the staff.

Last year we raised £1000 which was spent on these new desks. We have noticed over the years that there are very few resources as funds are scarce. This year we have raised a further £1000 which is being spent on secure cupboards for the classrooms so precious resources can be stored safely. Then in future years we can provide them with resources and show the staff how to use them.

2010 Because eight of us went this year we were able to take out a lot of stationary, baby clothes and football kits donated by our parents and a local football club.

It was also a very musical week! Mr Wyld and Ralph took out their ukeleles which led many a sing-song and Mrs Porter held a recorder lesson one night. She also taught some of the elder scouts so the recorder lessons could continue after our visit.

2009

The school was closed for the Easter holidays so our staff set up creative activities at the Kairo Konko Scout Lodge. 
The children loved being creative - they painted, sketched, made friendship bracelets, and sung, danced and played games.The school was closed for the Easter holidays so our staff set up creative activities at the Kairo Konko Scout lodge.

In the evenings they helped with the study classes in English language that were held at the Scout Lodge - this was useful for both the students and the teacher to experience different approaches to teaching and learning.

2008

In February this year Mrs McIlroy and Miss Reece visited The Gambia for a week.

Although there are new classrooms, the older condemned classrooms are still being used. The walls are cracked, the roof leaks, the floor has crumbled to dirt and the furniture is falling apart. 
They have come back with many ideas on how to help the Soma School. Some are as simple such as providing pencil sharpeners or tape recorders and listening tapes to hear how words are pronounced. The money raised so far this year will be spent on notice boards for the classrooms.

2005

Each class was challenged to think up different and fun ways to raise money to buy 6 sets of the African reading scheme for the Soma school. Each set has 126 books and each book cost £3 each. 
Everyone worked really hard and this challenge was achieved.

 

Mr Douglas and Miss Welch went to Soma for week in March to help implement the reading scheme throughout the school, and to strengthen the existing bond with the school and community.They took lots of drawings, paintings and letters from our children and returned with lots of work from the Soma children.

2004

Mrs Roberts our Headteacher, Mrs King our Deputy Head and Mrs South all went to Soma for week in February, they were welcomed with great enthusiasm and warmth. 
It was an opportunity to meet the teachers and to discover first hand the similarities between the two communities.

 

Here are the children playing the drums we gave them last year.
The school put on a superb concert with singing, music, poetry and dancing. They also played the recorder which they've continued to learn since Mrs South taught them last year. The highlight of the concert was a song they'd composed which combined our two schools values.
The focus of this visit was to discuss the importance of reading and to help the Soma staff develop their understanding of reading progression.
Our next project is to raise funds to buy an African reading scheme for the Soma school.

2003

Mrs South went back to Soma for a very busy month. She bought 12 drums for the Soma school with money we'd raised.
She taught the children English songs and some tunes on the recorder which they performed at a huge school concert.

She also distributed the clothes donated by our children to over a hundred Soma children. They were very excited and loved their new outfits!

2002

The project was launched over the Spring half term of 2002 when Emily Thomas, our RE Co-ordinator and Beryl Porter, our LSA Manager visited and taught at The Soma School in The Gambia.