Sussex charity helping children of The Gambia

21st April

Photo of BACE volunteers

Some of the BACE volunteers

The daughter of a Heathfield man and co-founder of a Sussex charity is helping to make a huge difference to the lives of a group of children in Africa.

BACE (Building and Assisting Communities with Education), which was set up in 2011, focuses on improving the lives of young people through education in a rural community called Bonsa in The Gambia.

Accountant Laura Collier-Keywood, who is the treasurer as well as the co-founder with Tracy Barnett MBA, explains: “I had been travelling to Gambia for five years with another charity and then we decided to set up another project.

“We always try to do some sort of building project. Our first project was in 2011 when BACE volunteers and the local community of Bonsa built the Favour Preparatory Nursery School and a medical clinic. We visit Gambia as least once a year with volunteers who do some of the hands-on work. It’s also an ideal way to show people where their money is going.

One of the classrooms

“Last September we finished building a third classroom and now have 120 children attending the nursery school from ages three to eight. We run a feeding programme so that all children have at least one nutritious meal a day.”

Laura’s father Richard Collier-Keywood recently went out to Gambia to give some hands-on support. The charity has already achieved some amazing results but Laura admits there are many challenges to be faced.

“It’s mainly the fundraising. It’s fairly easy to raise money for the actual building projects but it’s much more difficult to raise money for the ongoing costs such as staff salaries, the feeding programme and repairs and maintenance. We are now looking at ways to develop sustainability and generate income streams.

“We have purchased a plot of land which is brilliant so we now have a garden where women are growing vegetables. They are able to pay a small rent for the land and sell their produce at the local market.”

The next project for BACE is providing primary school education and the charity’s supporters are busy fundraising with jumble sales, sports events and challenges like the London to Brighton Bike Ride.

The charity turned seven years old last year when it raised £65,000. Since the charity was launched it has raised over £300,000 to help the people of Bonsa.

BACE has seven Trustees all of whom work for the charity on an entirely voluntary basis, paying for their own travel costs and other expenses to ensure that all the money raised by the charity goes towards funding projects.

Please help the Trustees by donating what you can in terms of money, your time or resources by contacting them through info@bacecharity.org.uk