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How travel changes lives (and not just for the travellers)

When Shaun travelled to The Gambia on our Senegal and The Gambia trip before Christmas, he had no idea the effect the trip would have on him. And how the people he met would make all the difference to him and those he encountered along the way.

Shaun’s Explore Leader, Baba, was the inspiration. Baba is a fantastic leader who has been nominated several times in our Tour Leader of the Year awards, and it’s not hard to see why. His organisational skills, his knowledge of the countries’ histories, cultures and even their bird-life were impressive and he often went out of his way to make sure everyone got the most from their trip.

Baba’s generosity and community mindedness led him to set up the charity Hope Gambia several years ago and it’s gone from strength to strength. The work carried out by them over the last few years was evident for Shaun’s group to see as they travelled through the country. The charity’s main focus is building schools for local communities; Shaun and his group even met some of the children that Hope Gambia sponsors.

Hope Gambia have also built several wells, or boreholes, in villages around the country, one of which was built with money Explore donated back in 2017, as part of our start-up fund donations. The change to villagers’ lives is clear – where once they had to walk miles to their nearest water source for simple necessities such as drinking and washing, now they use the water to cultivate the land for food and produce to sell.

Working with local communities in The Gambia

Shaun saw that much of this work was only possible thanks to Baba’s attention to detail, his great organisational skills and most importantly, his passion. He’s the perfect person for the job. Shaun commented that Baba “had achieved a huge amount and had done so in a very professional and caring manner.”

After Shaun’s experiences in The Gambia, he decided to pitch Baba’s charity to his own local charity on returning home. As a trustee at One World Group Oxted, which supports grass-roots initiatives worldwide, and having seen the work carried out by Hope Gambia first hand, Shaun was well-placed to impress upon the charity the incredible efforts that Baba and Hope Gambia were making to improve the lives of villagers around The Gambia.

Donating to Hope Gambia

Baba and Hope Gambia’s actions spoke for themselves, and they were chosen as the worthy recipients of £4,000 to build a new borehole for Labakore; a village where the 4,000 inhabitants had to walk 2-3 miles, several times a day, just to get water for drinking, cleaning and washing. This money would also allow them to provide pipes to distribute the water around the village and solar cells to power the pump sustainably.

The donation made through Shaun by One World Group Oxted will save the villagers’ time and energy previously spent getting water. They will have the opportunity to cultivate crops, nurture their animals, as well as sell their produce. These small changes will make all the difference, helping the villagers to become self-sufficient and putting them in a better position for the future.

You can find out more about the Explore Leaders’ charities on our Responsible Travel pages.

If you have been impressed by your leader, why not nominate them in our Explore Leader of the year award?

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