But the mother-of-two and grandmother-of-four has insisted: “I’m not ready to give up.” She formed her plan 12 years ago after visiting the African country and developing a love for the people she met.
Seeing the desperate conditions facing many people there, she founded the Abijay-Danso charity – a project to build and run a not-for-profit school to offer children in the village of Samyang the chance of an education – along with her neighbour Jade Miller and Sanyang resident Karamba Danso.
They have since encountered many obstacles in their fight for an education for all, including logistical difficulties and finding land which was suitable for the project.
However, none is more pressing than the cost of building a school in an area which has some of the poorest people and lowest paid wages in the world.
A prolific fund-raiser, who is battling rheumatoid arthritis, has seen her efforts to raise money to build a school in Africa take a dive because dealing with health issues.
A big scar down her left leg shows why she hasn’t been so active, for she had to undergo major surgery.
She said:“I live in a body that shouldn’t be mine. The nerve is not telling my brain to lift my leg.
“As I’m getting older things get worse, but I’m not ready to give up.
“I haven’t been able to do collections this year due to poor health but Our Lady of the Wayside, in Shirley, and Lady of the Lords, in Yardley Wood, gave us books and classroom equipment, which is all ready to be sent out to The Gambia.
“Material costs are going up like cement, rubble and sand, but we have 2,500 bricks made already, from the money we raised.
“My school will be free where most of the schools aren’t. And I want the kiddies to have a chance as some animals live better than the people.”
Her desire to help further increased after she took some donated clothes back to Gambia and saw the desperation for herself. “I was flabbergasted by the Gambians’ reaction when I emptied the bags. There was a huge rush and you couldn’t control everyone.
“They’re not desperate in The Gambia but I remember people fighting to get into the shop and we had to shut the gates.
“It reminded me of a jumble sale crammed into a small room.
“After that experience we organised ourselves into different days – a baby clothes day, a women’s day and men’s day. All the money raised from sales has gone back into the charity for the building of the school.”]]>