A pensioner who is passionate about helping the people of Gambia is returning to the country to help disadvantaged pupils.
Ina Bakker, 73, of Banbury, is busy preparing an incredible three-week trip to the Sunrise Centre in Gambia in November.
She will be going through the charity GETS (Gambia Education and Teaching Support) and is very much involved in its work as a sponsor of the school’s Skills Centre; a class where students aged 15 to 20 get help to develop a range of craft skills.
Mrs Bakker said: “These are the ones who either have not had an education at all or they have fallen out of Ninth Grade.
“ They’re not really academic but have skills that need to be enhanced.”
As part of the preparations, Mrs Bakker is busy filling boxes with craft items, small hand tools and regular school items to send to the school.
But Mrs Bakker is by no means a stranger to the country. She said: “My husband Johannes and I first went to Gambia as tourists in 2000. Because Thomas Cook had an extra ten kilo baggage allowance we used to go around the charity shops here and pick up items. We’d then go into schools and make sure everyone got something.”
Following her husband’s death six years ago, Mrs Bakker decided she wanted to continue helping the people of Gambia but in a more structured way.
She said: “I like doing what I can. Because of my interest in the country, I just went online and trawled the internet looking for a suitable charity.”
Mrs Bakker is keen to raise awareness of GETS’s work and would also like as many people as possible to help.
She said: “It would be great if there are any colleges or schools in the area who would be interested in twinning up with the school. And also if people were able to sponsor one of the pupils as sponsorships start from as little as £5 per month.”
The next step for the charity is to address a need for a Technical College, resources for teaching Mechanics and Engineering and getting more teaching volunteers.
For more information about the charity, see www.getsuk.org
Those who may be able to help Mrs Bakker fill the boxes with craft and school items and particularly a variety of vegetable seeds and anything from GETS’s online Amazon Wish list can call Mrs Bakker on 01295 278033.