MENSPIRE GAMBIA PROJECT
In 2015, we had the opportunity to launch our first international project which was very close to MENSPIRE as we raised with the community just over £10,000 for an orphanage in India. Sam and Josh had the privilege to go to visit the orphanage and meet the kids in person. Every year since we have made it our goal to consistently do international charity work.
Promoting and capturing our charity work on our social platforms led us to the connection of MENSPIRE and SPOT Charity. SPOT (Supporting The People Of Tomorrow) is a charity organisation which was founded in 2016. The concept behind SPOT is to give the less fortunate children, those that are malnourished, living in poor conditions with no parenting figure in their lives a glimpse into the life of the western world. What do we mean by this? It is SPOT’s goal to give these orphans state of the art accommodation and high level of education just as we have in the western world. This concept was brought to life and work had begun to make this happen in late 2016 when SPOT had invited out directors of MENSPIRE, Sam & Josh, to The Smiling Coast Of Africa, The Gambia. Along with other invites, MENSPIRE had travelled over to The Gambia after collecting donations from the local community and online to help start work on the SPOT ACADEMY. A place that is built for orphans of Gambia that have no sense of direction in life. In aim to take the orphans on board and mould them into leaders, into men that have a goal of what they want to achieve in life and attain all the life skills and technical skills that are needed for them to achieve these goals.
After going out to Gambia in late 2016 to physically help building the orphanage, work had carried on and MENSPIRE were again invited out to The Gambia in the early months of 2018, when the orphanage had been fully built. Director, Sam, paid a visit to the completed orphanage which at the time had on board twelve orphans who have had their lives changed by the SPOT ACADEMY.
Following on from Sam’s trip out to the SPOT Academy in early 2018, we were later invited again by SPOT but this time an invitation for the MENSPIRE Team. This was an amazing opportunity thanks to SPOT to give the employees of MENSPIRE as well as the directors a grounding first hand experience of the progression of our project and where all the money we had raised was going towards.
November 2018 quickly came upon us and after collecting donations across our entire MENSPIRE Roster, nine members of the team made ways to The Gambia. With plans in place for our activities over our time there, everything went as smooth as can be. Starting the trip off by visiting the average orphanage already built in The Gambia to give us an insight into how they are run and how the children in these orphanages are treated. We arrived as a team with food, toys and clothes for the orphans of which they were deeply appreciative. The reactions were incredibly heart-warming to see how much these items meant to these kids; items that we take for granted in the western world. However, witnessing the state that these children live in was indescribable. The conditions in which they live, the clothes they are wearing and general cleanliness was unbearable to see for us as more privileged individuals.
After leaving this orphanage, we had an idea of how already built organisations in The Gambia are. We then made ways to the SPOT ACADEMY which was not far from the orphanage we had already visited. We knew that the SPOT ACADEMY would impress us in comparison the orphanage we had already been to however we didn’t expect it to wow us quite like it did. We were speechless. After witnessing the progress for two years, raising funds for this cause and then finally being able to see the project built up, it was truly amazing. The group of seventeen children, all in their matching uniforms greeted us with perfect manners and enthusiasm. The staff of the orphanage made us feel incredibly welcomed and quickly got us settled. After giving us a full tour of the entire academy, from the SPOT Kitchen, to the area the children sleep in to the classrooms where the kids are educated. Everything was built and kept to such a high standard, standard that we are used to in the western world but is rare in the lands of Africa. We started the activities off right away after setting up our cutting area, we began to trim all the staff and children of the SPOT Academy. It was amazing for the MENSPIRE Staff to cut the hair of these deeply appreciative orphans in the scorching sun of Gambia. The reward of making all these children that have way less than us, that are not as fortunate as we are, smile and happy was an overwhelming feeling of joy. After lacing all the staff and children, some SPOT Staff and children and MENSPIRE Representatives were interviewed by a National Gambian News Channel which was covering the whole SPOT Project and the visit from MENSPIRE. We then gathered together in the SPOT Canteen where we all sat and ate lunch cooked freshly by SPOT Academy’s very own chef, it was delicious!
After lunch, it was time for the moment all the kids were looking forward to, the SPOT vs MENSPIRE Football Match to be played on the newly surfaced SPOT Academy Football Pitch! The kids all came out in their full football gear, we didn’t quite know what to expect! The energy of these kids was unmatchable! We began to play and right away the SPOT Team struck the MENSPIRE Team hard. After dominating the game in the 35 degree sun of Gambia; the SPOT Team were victorious against MENSPIRE! It was phenomenal to see just how happy these orphans are. The disciplined and regimented systems put in place in the SPOT Academy is shown through the respect and manners of the children. Firstly witnessing how an already built orphanage in Gambia is and then witnessing the SPOT Academy, there was an evident contrast in the way things are run. The SPOT Academy portrayed a whole new level of orphanages in The Gambia and set the bar for future organisations of the similar type in the world in general. The state of the art accommodation and education that is built for the kids is now a blueprint for anyone that ever wishes to carry out similar work in less economically developed countries experiencing poverty.
It was a real honour to have the opportunity to visit the SPOT Project and it really meant a lot to every single one of the MENSPIRE Team to finally see the progress of a project we have been fundraising for in real life. We can’t wait to get back out there! We will continue to stand side by side with SPOT and continue raising funds for this incredible project.