Augusta is from Bansang, the largest town in the Central River Region. She was living there with her mother who sells ice water and ice but struggles to survive. Her mother frequently took Augusta out of school and used her for her business but that was the only way for her to be able to pay for her schooling.
Augusta is very intelligent but was always going here and there to sell ice or ice water. Our co-founder Father Jean Diagne got to know Augusta’s mother who agreed that when Augusta finished primary school, she could go to a boarding school three hours away and focus on her studies. We got a place for her at St-Edward’s Upper Basic Cycle School in Bwiam, a town down the river about half way to the capital. St. Edward’s has a history similar to St. Theresa’s in Fula Bantang – it was started by a Catholic order but is now a non-denominational part of the public school system with additional support from the Church. But unlike St. Theresa’s, there is a small boarding facility there, just for girls. We got Augusta enrolled along with her cousin Fanta and together they completed grades 7 through 9 there. In the fall of 2013, Augusta enrolled in the adjoining Fatima Senior Secondary School. She can continue to live in the same small boarding campus with the sisters. Fatima is a good school and our South Bank Program Coordinator knows their Principal, so between the Sisters and them, Augusta will be well looked after.
Cecelia’a father is in his 60's and is sorely stretched to provide for his extended family since he was forced to quit his job as an agricultural extension agent due to health problems. His younger brother is absent and Rafael is supporting both families. His sister-in-law, who was sharing the raising of both families, died a few months ago. In addition, Rafael has taken in several other young people, some related and some not, to try to give them a stable home and an education. That's where GambiaRising has been helpful; we are supporting several students from this extended family. Cecilia is a very intelligent girl, doing very well in school and hard working. Her major problem is health; she is suffering from sickle cell anemia; the disease had already forced her older sister to drop out of school after having multiples seizures. Cecelia had been hospitalized several times at Bansang Hospital for treatment. But even with that, Cecilia was always one of the top students in her class.
Starting in 2010, Cecelia has had a scholarship from GambiaRising. We have also been supplying Cecelia with multi-vitamins with added iron. This seems to be having an effect; Cecilia has had no episodes and has required no hospital visits since then. She just graduated from St. Therese’s and intends to attend senior secondary school at St. Joseph’s in Banjul, an all-girl school that is one of the best in the country.
Fanta lost both her father and her mother some time ago and has been living with her older sister in a village 5 km from Fula Bantang. Her sister was just struggling to keep the family fed. Fanta is an intelligent girl and was always among the top students in her classroom. In 9th grade at St. Therese’s she was selected as Head Girl for the school, a great honor.
She was admitted as a boarding student at Armitage Sr. Secondary School in Janjanbureh and thanks to a GambiaRising sponsor, will be in 12th grade there in the coming school year.