For 12 years, we have been helping over 500 kids with monthly donations and school fees, hosted hundreds of volunteers and successfully finished many projects.
One of our latest and most meaningful projects is Lighting up the streets of Kerewan Samba Sira Village.
At the end of April 2023, we installed 100 solar lights on the village streets, and it was a day we will always remember. The project brought smiles to the faces of villagers and an immediate improvement in their daily lives.
Kerewan Samba Sira is more than 275 km away from the capital city of Banjul. It is one of the many beautiful villages in the Central River Region of The Gambia. Over a thousand people live within one hundred and seventy (175) compounds. The village had no electricity, and residents depended only on the moonlight at night. The village is quite big and has a nursery, a primary school, and two mosques. Currently, the residents are also trying to build a health centre for the community.
We came across Kerewan Samba Sira village while researching a location for our new sustainable project. During the discussion with the Alkali of the village Mr Mohammed Saidy and his brother Mr Yerro Saidy, we received a plea to help light up the entire village.
The village does not have access to electricity and was, until we finished the first phase of 100 solar lights installation, in complete darkness after sunset. The work, joy, sports and security in Kerewan Samba Sira ended when the sun went down. Without moonlight, it would be pitch dark and difficult to see the surroundings. Everyone would be confined to their homes, and their sense of security would fade with the sunlight. The lack of security in the darkness is also related to worries such as travelling on the roads, burglars, using the outdoor toilets after dark, etc.
Bringing safety to the community was one of the greatest wishes of the earlier Alkalo of the village, who passed away in October 2022, and the role of the village chief was passed on to one of his sons. Making his father's dream come true would be a great way of honouring his memory for the new Alkalo and his brother, who approached Volunteer Trails with a wish to join forces in the project. Seeing the passion, the will and the meaning of making this wish come true made us believe that together, we can make the change in the long run.
We have successfully completed the first phase of the solar lights installation project, and life in the village of Kerewan Samba Sira has changed drastically since then. The community comes together after dusk, vendors can continue their sales, artisans can work longer, and the streets are safe to use at night. Youngsters are again allowed to walk to the closeby shops and take care of their elders through daily shopping, and kids can still play together outside even when night falls. The happiness which was brought to the village is priceless. The historical moment of installing solar lights on the main streets will be remembered forever.
During our visit to the village, we received a request to provide solar street lighting for 22 neighbouring regional villages. After sharing photos on social media and local platforms, we were flooded with requests from residents of other villages who would also like the project implemented in their villages.
Although we initially wondered why the villagers had initiated the request for solar street lighting, it is clear that if we genuinely want to help without imposing our beliefs and opinions, we must listen to the locals and their needs. And such a response from neighbouring villages and other residents of The Gambia is a sign that, together with the villagers of Kerewan Samba Sira, we made the right decision.
Since the village is quite large, some streets still need lights. Also, the distances between the lights are too great to claim that the village is fully illuminated, so we urgently need to collect enough funds to install an additional 150 lights. The villagers pray that we will be successful in our endeavours to collect enough for the second phase.
In addition to the renewed request to support our project, we cordially invite you to join us in The Gambia and experience the implementation of the project with us. No one can describe the feelings you will experience at this event. Although we know that donors do not expect anything in return, we believe that the joy, happiness, and prayers of the villagers are the most beautiful gifts donors can receive from people who may never be able to repay them financially. And yes, charity brings benefits and a sense of happiness to everyone – to those who give and receive.
In developed countries, having electricity is so natural that people don't even think about how life would be without it. We are only reminded of its value when short well-announced power breaks occur. But now imagine that not only your home but the streets around your home are also in complete darkness every night.
Light is a single word that can bring happiness or distress in our lives.
Light gives a feeling of security, especially in the country where most activities occur in the evening. Keeping no track of time and with the rapid disappearance of the daylight in the evening, many villagers are caught in the night while returning home from work. Even small kids, who are used to playing on the streets with friends, extended families or neighbours, would sometimes find it hard to come back home, especially without the gadgets that we are all to-used-to now - smartphones with a torchlight.
However, the night perfectly covers the ill-intentioned ones found worldwide. So while the whole village is sleeping in the dark, many essential things go missing – crops from the field, tools, or any other property of the humble homes.
Facing so many problems due to the lack of light, the dreams about having safe, well-lit streets in the village are big for the people living there.
Lighting in the village is a crucial step for rural economic development.
Public lighting grids can significantly impact rural communities living conditions and can help strengthen their economies. There is enough anecdotal evidence from people who describe how their lives have improved by being able to sell goods and services later into the night, being able to walk from places of work or worship home at night without fear of assault, being visible on previously unlit streets reducing the number of traffic accidents and a multitude of other benefits to justify installing street lighting.
Thousands of extra working hours will be added to the village economy by extending trading and working beyond daylight hours- that alone will positively impact the lives of hardworking villagers of Kerewan Samba Sira.
Installing solar lights is the most optimal and cheapest option to help them to have light in the streets and lives.
What are the advantages of lighting up the Kerewan Samba Sira village?
Everyone should have the right to feel safe when the sun sets, and together we can end the darkness and show a ray of light to the people living in the dark in Kerewan Samba Sira village in The Gambia.
And yes, charity is something that brings benefits to both sides. The one giving is gifted with happiness, as the one receiving shows gratitude. If you find it in your heart to contribute to this meaningful project, we can light up the village and the faces of its residents together. Thank you!
With the project, we aim to ensure higher safety in the village and expand the time of working hours which positively contribute to further village development.
Volunteer Trails (in collaboration with My Gambia) is developing tourism products hand in hand with community members to create new job opportunities and help with community development in the future.
Light is life.
Here is a breakdown of what we require for the additional 150 lights.
150 SOLAR LIGHTS: €6,500
150 IRON POLES: €3,500
150 IRON PLATES (for light installation): €185
WELDING (+ off-loading, loading) 150 POLES: €425
TRANSPORT (in the city, to the village, within the village): €600
CEMENT, SAND, STONE: €500
250 LIGHT PROTECTORS: €1,450
The purchase and installation of solar lights will be monitored with our cameras and published on our social networks.
BANK TRANSFER DETAILS:
Account Name: VOLUNTEER TRAILS – THE GAMBIA
Account Number (GMD): 6240037610
BBAN (GMD): 008201624003761074
Account Number (EUR): 6240037611
BBAN (EUR): 008201624003761171
Swift Code: ECOCGMGMXXX
Beneficiary Bank name: Ecobank Gambia Ltd.
Beneficiary Bank Address: 42 Kairaba Avenue, Serekunda – The Gambia.
Please support this project to make a difference in the lives of hundreds! Donate to the account above or the button below and share this article with friends and family to make this dream come true.