New Leaders Programme

The New Leaders Programme also appeared in 'The Elephant Magazine' produced by Southwark. 

Overall summary

On Friday 23rd October 2015 Abena, Tyrone, Sam, Ellen and I (Omolade) boarded a plane to the capital of The Gambia – Banjul. This opportunity sparked from the Duke of Edinburgh New Leaders Programme. We were given a fantastic opportunity to apply for the programme. Due to our hard efforts and preparation, we were able to excel through the interview stages and as a result of doing so, we were given the opportunity to visit The Gambia in order to develop local communities and provide a caring hand to developing communities.

Once we have completed the programme, we will gain the following

Level 2 Award in Working with Young People

  • First Aid at Work Certificate
  • Work experience placement at D of E London Regional Office
  • International Residential – Learning week and community activities

The plethora of achievements we will receive, and have already received, will develop our key skills for use in the future. As well as this, the visit to The Gambia has allowed us to make a positive impact in a developing country, understand the principles and practice of equal opportunities and develop employability skills. The Gambia trip has allowed us to put what we have learned in our weekly Saturday sessions into practice through voluntary work in various communities. Through our weekly lessons we are now able to assess risk in a youth work setting, reflect and improve upon our roles as a volunteer and reflect on our personal development and identify areas for development in the future.

Whilst in The Gambia, we visited Bijilo, Lower Basic School where we supplied the school with stationery which we brought from the UK. In The Gambia there is a heavy emphasis on producing food organically as many people source their nutrition and income from doing so. Currently the school’s quality of education is below average as students find it difficult to focus during classes. This is because many of the children are attempting to learn with empty stomachs or in some cases; they do not have the required equipment to learn with and so therefore leading to inefficiencies within the education system in the school. In order to improve infrastructure and productivity within the school, we helped Bijilo through heavy amounts of donations and providing support in the Bijilo Lower Basic School’s garden. By doing so, the school is now able to grow crops and food for the school and sell the surplus in order to generate funds for the school. In turn, this will lead to an improvement in education within Bijilo Lower Basic School. Upon our visit to Bijilo Lower Basic School, we also played a friendly football match with the students at the school. Unfortunately, theD of E New Leaders were faced with an unlucky loss as the final score was Bijilo 4, 2 D of E New Leaders.

Further to this, we also attended the Presidential International Award, which is the equivalent to the D of E in the UK. We met with some of the current participants and have now developed long-lasting relationships with them. The half term entailed an array of experiences through The Gambia trip as we experienced The Gambian culture and cuisine whilst making a positive impact in the local communities, and donated football kits to our Gambian counterparts.

The expenses of the trip to The Gambia were fully funded by Delancey, a real estate investment firm, who provided up to £1500 per head for the trip to The Gambia. Yes, that means we did not have to pay a single penny for our travel expenses to The Gambia. The advice we would give to anyone, is grab every opportunity that comes your way because you never know where it could lead. Who knows, maybe next year you could be on a ferry to France!

Omolade, Sam, Tyrone, Abena & Ellen.

Personal Reflections:

Abena Obeng: I see the world through different eyes now. My actions and the decisions I make will be governed by a different mind-set. I feel more cultured and able to be proactive in my community and hopefully widespread. I aspire to be a paramedic in the future and this journey with the New Leaders programme has confirmed that. This programme has made me learn a lot about myself for which I will always be indebted to. It’s a shame we may be the last cohort of D of E New leaders programme but I hope our efforts will have a lasting effect.

Tyrone Salami: The opportunity to help others in the way we could and at the same time, embrace a new culture was an opportunity that does not come often. The ability to see differences between how we live and act between the two nations has allowed me to reflect on what I could do better. The fundamentally cohesive nature of society in The Gambia allowed me to reflect on how little they have but how willing they are to share. To be able to see this first hand, gives me memories I will never forget and values I will now incorporate in my life in the UK. I aspire to do Economics and Politics at University and to see the differences between the UK and The Gambia in both these disciplines allowed me to boost my knowledge

Ellen Hagos: The trip to The Gambia was definitely an eye opener. The altruistic nature of the volunteer work enabled me to reflect on the simple things in life which I take for granted. It was amazing to see how content children were without the materialistic aspects of life and how much they value their education compared with children in more economically developed countries.

Omolade Ojo-Abioye: "It was an amazing opportunity for me to become a better person by actively making a change, but also re-evaluating the materialistic priorities I once held dear. The trip gave me the motivation to continue making a difference no matter how far away I am, and to never forget where true happiness comes from. My aspiration in the future is to continue helping people and making a difference in their lives by setting up my own charitable programme and being part of the new leaders programme has enhanced my desire to do this. It has made me realize that we, in the privileged positions we are in should give our all to helping those less fortunate than us."

Samuel Imie: “Being a participant in the Duke Of Edinburgh New Leaders has allowed me to experience many things which I would have never been able to experience without my commitment to the programme. The opportunity to visit The Gambia was a once in a lifetime opportunity which endorsed my cultural and geographical experiences. I was able to experience the Gambian culture, an experience which I will never forget. Through the D  of E New Leaders Programme I was able to stay at my counterpart’s house and explore the Gambian culture further. As a western individual, I am familiar with eating food with complimentary knives and forks. However, during my stay in The Gambia, I chose to experience the Gambian culture by eating Benachin with my hands from one pot. Benachin is a popular one-pot rice dish which is popular in The Gambia. In the future, I would love to visit The Gambia. Tourism is one of The Gambia’s main exports and I believe that The Gambia can expand their growth through tourism in the future. However, I think that when people visit The Gambia, they shouldn’t stay in a hotel throughout their stay but instead, they should experience the Gambian culture by visiting a school or a local museum. In the future I hope to study Accounting & Finance whereby I will be able to apply my experience to my degree and hopefully invest in various projects within Gambia in the future.”

(Samuel Imie, Omolade Ojo-Abioye, Abena Obeng, Tyrone Salami and Ellen Hagos)