Kind-hearted youngsters in Montrose and Angus have been sponsoring and extending the hand of friendship to children in Gambia.
Jackie Learmonth has spent the last year in Gambia helping the community and while she has been in Africa, Angus youngsters, including her grandchildren, have been doing their bit to help the children in Gambia.
Jackie has been working out in Africa for the last few years, raising money for Pandi’s Legacy for education, sport and medical supplies - Jackie became good friends with a Latrikunda FC player, Pandi Camara, and a week after one of her regular visits to Gambia, Pandi and two of his friends and fellow team members were involved in a car accident.
Pandi’s friends died and Pandi was rushed to hospital. He later died in hospital of his injuries.
Jackie said: “I just want these kids to be recognised for thinking of their counterparts in other countries, who have no Christmas presents, no food for some, no nice day in new clothes.
“I really admire these kids, in a world where material things mean so much, it’s humbling to see so many people teaching their children about those worse off around the world.”
Rudy Spink (9) and her mum Bekki Smith-Dutton, of Cloud 9 beauty salon on George Street, sponsor a girl called Ashmaw and pay for all her schooling and write regularly to her. They also are helping with the pencil case Christmas present appeal.
Children of Nichola Learmonth and Jackie’s grandchildren, Jake (11), Charlie (10), Evie (6), Archie (5) Henderson are at present putting together school bags for more than 120 children in the school and filling them with clothes and shoes.
They also have just sent a load to Lamin clinic, a baby clinic in Gambia where the newborns often do not have an outfit to leave the hospital in.
Jackie said: “We try to give them two outfits and a baby blanket. Also for orphaned kids we try to get help and sponsors.”
She added “My grandchildren have been brought up helping with the school, and think nothing of collecting, sorting or giving their own belongings.”
Morgan Holly Sharp (14), daughter of Teresa Alsop, owner of T Cakes, cake designer on Dubton Road, helps to sponsor a girl called Haddy. Morgan sends Haddy her own belongings regularly and pays for schooling.
Anna (5) and Harry Bews (3) sponsor a little girl called Jainaba and pay for her schooling and send letters and gifts to her.
Jackie added: “I am trying to set up a small football academy for young people aged from five to 23 and we regularly need football boots and strips. We have been helped hugely recently by Susan Millar at Carnoustie Panmure, also Brechin FC and Montrose FC.
“I have many more people who help me regularly and donate both money and clothes, as well as other things, and I cannot thank them enough, but there are too many to mention.”
There will be a fund-raising night and raffle at the Black Abbot on Sunday, December 28, for anyone who is interested in helping or donating to the Kunta Kinteh Nursery School or individual children.
Jackie concluded: “The most important thing I can get right now is donations to help with the freight costs, which can spiral out of control at times.
“Everything donation I receive goes directly to either the school, the football academy or the Lamin clinic.
“If we receive anything we cannot use, I sell it and they either get the money or it goes on freight. There are no admin costs or administrators to pay and no government taking anything.”