Construction of the new community school began early in 2012 in a dedicated area a short walk from the edge of the village. The land was donated by Chief Bangali and had originally been part of his farm.
The work involved the whole village, as well as people from neighbouring villages who wanted to be able to send their children to school. Together they cleared the land, made thousands of mud bricks, and provided the labour for the contractor, sometimes even working at night. The men carried the 40 kg bags of cement and the lengths of roofing iron and reinforcing steel the whole way from Fadugu. The women carried water from the streams for the mortar and concrete, some also carrying their babies strapped on their backs. The children, guided by their teacher, filled containers with sand from the nearby swamp and carried many loads to the site. They gathered the rocks and stones that were broken by hand to make gravel for the concrete.
Progress was made in accordance with the seasons. The brickwork was completed during the dry season and held up during the wet. As sand from the swamp ran out, it was dug and carried by the men from the river much further away. When that was exhausted they waited for the next wet season to leave fresh deposits needed for the finishing work.
The project was initiated by Bangali and the community and brought to reality by Mallam who directed and managed the construction. He conferred with school officials and inspected the plans of other schools. He organised the contractor and the purchase and transportation of materials. He liaised with Chris and Jude for the necessary funding as the project proceeded and the specifications of the building were upgraded. He made constant trips on foot to oversee the project and worked with Bangali to mobilize the village work force as needed. He documented the progress, mostly on his little Nokia phone. Though not best quality, these photos are a priceless record of the community’s vision, dedication and hope for the future.
By September of 2012 the new community school building was useable and the start of the new academic year began with an influx of 70 students and much excitement.
In September, 2015 the decision was made to help Yiben and the surrounding communities access basic healthcare. Now they have built a Health Clinic!