It all began in 1993 when Joan Bailey went to The Gambia on holiday and met a young Gambian Famara Demba. Mrs Bailey was impressed by the discussions she had with Famara concerning the needs of his country in general and the needs of his own particular community in the village of Nyofelleh. Famara passionately believed that the way to improve things for the future was through the expansion of education making it more widely available to all young people. As a consequence of many further discussions the following year Mrs Bailey returned to The Gambia and laid the first brick in the school’s foundations. Initially she personally financed the building of the school which opened for its first pupils in 1994 as a primary school for 90 pupils. In those days there were 2 untrained teachers one blackboard and some chalk!
Over the years things have grown and Mrs Bailey began to receive support from friends and colleagues both financially and in terms of more active support. We became known as the Derek Bailey Foundation and became a registered charity in 2000. There are now 10 trustees, 2 of whom are Gambian people. The name of our charity is in memory of Mrs Bailey’s late husband.
Throughout the time we have been working with the village of Nyofelleh we have always worked with the village district committee – the VDC – together we discuss how work will be done and we always encourage the involvement of local people wherever it is possible.
In 2007 the projects in Nyofelleh were transferred to the V.D.C. at their request. The charity then associated itself with a malarial project being developed in the nearby coastal town of Gunjur. The charity worked in partnership with the Gunjur Village Association , the key goal of which was to reduce malarial disease through preventive means rather than through the more expensive curative means. This project was initially successful but limited funding began to affect the possibility of expanding the project in the whole region. This coincided with the timing of an appeal from the V.D.C. of Nyofelleh asking the D.B.F. to consider returning to help with the management and further development of the projects in their village. We returned to Nyofelleh in 2011.
We have received help and support from The Gambian Government . other agencies and charities. The Gambian authorities now pay the salaries of the medically qualified staff at the clinic in addition to the salaries of the teachers at the school. We continue to be responsible for the construction and maintenance of the buildings in addition to making a monthly donation to the VDC towards the continuing employment of the local support staff at the clinic as well as some medical supplies.