My volunteer service is in Kuli Kunda, Kiang West, in the Lower River Region. A young woman from my village, Mame Njie, completed the Certificate Program in Agriculture at The Gambia College this past year, and is continuing her studies for the Higher Diploma in Agriculture starting this September.
Mame and her mother raised and sold sweet potatoes to help finance her studies and she took out a D5000 interest-free loan from a family friend to pay last year's tuition, D12000. Her father is a subsistence farmer. She is the first woman in her family to go to college, and one of only a handful from my village.
Other School Costs: Commuting from the compound she lives in in Brikama Jalambang to the college campus Mondays through Fridays costs D30 per day. Breakfast and lunch cost D75 together. Together commuting and meals costs D575 per week. Higher Diploma students must type a research report. They are strongly encouraged to get their own laptop computers to do this.
Sources of family income: Mame's father, Fakeba Njie is a farmer. He sells firewood, charcoal, groundnuts, and watermelons. Her mother sells sweet potatoes. Fakeba earns a few hundred dollars a month for operating Kuli Kunda's grain milling machine.
Means of paying study expenses to date: Fakeba's father and mother have contributed some money each year from the sale of their harvests. Mame has made some money by growing sweet potatoes with her mother and growing and selling tree seedlings in Brikama. Mame has also borrowed money from family friends to pay her school fees.
Mame's Cumulative Grade Point Average for her Certificate in Agriculture is a 3.51. Mame has expressed interest in starting her own commercial farm after her studies, probably in an area with better access to water and markets than Kiang Kuli Kunda, if she can raise the capital. That said, she is also interested in working with her father and neighbors in Kuli Kunda to grow a greater variety of fruit trees there. I think it is very likely that Mame will work for a Gambian commercial farm after graduation, because she has a couple years of experience interning with Gambian commercial farms. She may also apply to work for the Ministry of Agriculture.
I hope you will join me in helping Mame take this big step. She can't do it without our help. Any amount will help, and it's easy to spread the payments out over 12 months if you wish, which will mean we'll be able to keep supporting her until she graduates!