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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

GUD work in The Gambia

The dust along the roads to the village of Kanubeh coats every available surface and, by the time we arrive, the late afternoon sun pounding against our skin, we are filthy and tired. At the side of the road the villagers are waiting and as our feet touch the cracked earth, a cacophony of drums and singing fills our ears: as always, the exhausting journey upcountry is worth it.

As with much of upcountry Gambia, Kanubeh has little outside support and no services, with most of the villagers living in poverty (the UN’s definition of income of less than US$1 a day). When the Gambia Upcountry Development (GUD) charity first spoke to the villagers about their most vital needs, the overwhelming response was education and a desire to eventually be independent of aid.

Over the course of 2008 and 2009, with the support of GUD, the villagers designed, built and decorated a three-classroom nursery school. Through the villagers’ hard work and determination, the nursery school opened its classrooms for the first time in January 2010. Most of the children in the village had no previous access to formal education but are already making great progress, as I can attest from my visit in December.

The children of Kanubeh Nursery School are passionate, dedicated and entirely inspiring. GUD’s main aim is for the village to become self-sufficient. We have worked successfully with the inhabitants to produce valuable results but there is much more to do. Alongside supporting the current needs of the school, we are building funds to support the village’s own ideas for fundraising through sustainable business ventures, including vegetable gardens, a banana plantation and a video club — quite a challenge in an electricity-free village!

‘The GUD Challenge’ sees a different fundraising event each month, including the inaugural London-based GUD football tournament in May, the first in Basingstoke raised over £2,000; the second GUD Quiz, the first raised over £2,500; and a sponsored group climb of Mount Kilimanjaro.

We are looking for people to get involved so if you feel like revealing your football prowess, scaling the heights of Kilimanjaro or have ideas of your own, then please get in touch or visit the website for more details. I recently became a trustee of this fantastic charity and I can truly say that its work is both tangible and life-changing. Perhaps some of you will even join me for my next eagerly awaited coating of dust...

By Ella Spencer