Back in February, I started working on a USAID food security grant to plant 50 fruit tree seedlings at three schools in our area. One school is our village’s lower basic school and the two other schools are in Ndembang where Jessica lives. The previous month I have been working to make arrangements for this project. Things move slowly here and although we were supposed to receive the money in April, we did not receive approval until June. After approval was granted, it took me another month to actually get the money. By this time, I had a very short amount of time to purchase the seedlings, fencing materials, and get them to the schools before school let out. But we managed, and thus far all the schools have planted the seedlings and protected them. Each school received these types of trees: coconut, Cleopatra mandarin, lime, sweet orange, sweet grapefruit, avodaco, sweet/sour soup, and two different varieties of mangos.
Measuring correct spacing
Bakary planting a sweet orange tree
Head Master, Head Teacher, and Jerreh fencing off a lime tree
Tree planting is hard work, but maintenance can be a frequent problem in the Gambia. So I have allocated extra funds to have a completion between the three schools. Kaddy & Fanta’s Tree Competition will give the school with the best orchard 3,000 Dalasi (approximately 100 USD). Students who maintain their tree guards will receive certificates, and students who keep their trees alive will receive a prize. And at each school, the student with the best managed tree will get a prize worth 300 Dalasi (about 10 dollars). Because Jessica (Gambian name – Fanta) is finished with her service and going back to America in August, I will check up on the schools in October, and award prizes in December. The students seem to be excited about it and I hope they will keep up the enthusiasm throughout the next school year.