DHSA GRANT REPORTS- Iona Farrar-Bell
Grant recipient Iona Farrar-Bell (left 2012) currently studying architecture, spent four months of her gap year in the Gambia with the Christian charity Crosslinks. Our primary job there was to teach, as well as working in churches, serving in the local slum area and helping run youth and children’s work on a number of Christian conferences in the country. I worked at Agape Preparatory School for pupils aged 3-12. I went to Gambia with the assumption that teaching would be easy but I was in for a surprise! The school is located in a small church hall, using outbuildings as classrooms. Several of the classes are in the same rooms with a thin partition separating them. Not only did I have to contend with a noisy class myself, I was also battling against the noisy classroom next door.
Due to the lack of teachers and the large class sizes of up to 60, it is easy for individuals who are struggling to go unnoticed. There are students in the older years who have never learnt to read and write. We made a real effort to identify those who were struggling and work with small groups of 5 or 6 with whom we would practise reading and writing and pronunciation.
As well as teaching, a favourite part of the week was our work with YWAM (Youth with a Mission). Every Sunday afternoon we went into the local slum area where I helped run a Sunday school. We taught English songs, verses and a story from the Bible to a group of about 20 children. It was challenging as none of the children spoke English so we needed a Wollof translator with us.
The experience was a real opportunity to grow in faith, to learn about living alongside others and to understand more about myself.