Gambia is a small country of the Western Africa, with a little bit more than 2 million inhabitants, with the majority of the population following the Islamic religion. The rural population, which is the majority, lives basically of what they plant. Most of the families did not have access to education, and although English is considered the official language in the country, it is only a small part of the population who truly speaks it. The people speak more their own mother languages, being Wolof the one that truly connect them.
The Baptist Church in Kachumeh for many years were hearing about PEPE, pre-school education Program, but it was only in 2016 that PEPE truly arrived in the country. The children from the village had difficult to access a pre-school education, because the two schools that are in the village are private, making it difficult for most of the children to enter.
So, they had to stay in the house, helping their families with the daily tasks they had, and most of the children did not even knew how to play. When I first arrived in the village, two boys called my attention, because they were always sad, it was difficult to see them smiling, laughing, what is very normal for our 4 and 5 years old children. Going around and talking to the families, they got really excited about the possibility of having a pre-school project in the church for their children.
Some church members accepted the challenge to work as missionary-educators, and after receiving the initial training, preparing the environment of the unit, it was then possible to start the first unit with 25 children from 4 to 6 years old that had the opportunity to access for the first time a pre-school, where they were able to play, learn different things, eat, and be children. And above all they were able to feel loved and cared for our great Savior. You know those two sad boys I mentioned before, after one week at PEPE, they were smiling, laughing and playing all around.
When the families started being visited by the educators, the coordinator and leaders of the church, they were happy about the work that was being done with their children. The missionary-educators got happy to see that they were making a difference in the lives of those children, some discovered their own vocation. For that we can say that PEPE has made children and families happy, and it is still making other families happy because now PEPE is implemented in two villages, assisting more than 50 children and their families. And has the expectation to keep expanding in the country and reaching many more children and their families.
Tatiane Batista dos Santos
National Coordinator of PEPE Gambia