A Dunmow dad built a school in the Gambia with help and donations from his friends, family and the community.
Pat Larkin, who is originally from Ireland and has lived in Dunmow for 27 years, spent five weeks working on a school for four to seven-year-olds near Janjanbureh.
He was joined for 10 days by 25 friends from Ireland – all builders and tradesmen who knew each other through previous charity work.
Father and son Pat and Chris Larkin helped to build a school for children aged four to seven in the Gambia – Credit: Supplied
They helped Pat construct the school building, and his son Chris, who also lives in Dunmow and runs a social media marketing company, filmed and photographed the project.
Pat said: “It was an absolutely fantastic trip. My son came with me as well and he did all the photography and the video.”
He described the school, which is out in the countryside, as in “desperate need” of help. It had been without electricity since 2005 and did not have running water, but Pat and his friends installed electricity, water and built two new classrooms – as well as refurbishing the existing building.
The school also did not have a kitchen – which meant that the staff were unable to give the children food while they were there – so Pat and his friends installed one on the site.
The project was inspired by a 24-year-old teacher at the school called Kumba Kyle, who had a brain tumour and contacted the group for help.
Pat said: “We sent her to get the operation and we decided to build a school for her and get her back into work when she recovered from her illness.
“We were going out to meet her but she passed away so we decided to stay with the trip and build a school in memory of her.”
The Gambian school built by Pat Larkin and his friends – Credit: Chris Larkin
The group also took a container full of donations with them, full of clothes, toys, tools and school books, all of which were donated from local people in Dunmow, Braintree, Felsted and surrounding areas.
Pat’s daughter Emily said: “Dad’s always been involved in different charities that go out to build schools and housing.
“It makes a massive difference to the kids. It was really good of them to do it. They are looking to go back again next year.
“It was a nice charity thing which everyone came together to do.”