About Us

The Sweetwater Volunteer Project Aim

The Sweetwater volunteer project aim is to give volunteers/visitors a realistic view of life in Africa today.

Projects will include work in aspects of village life such as:

  • Education in Schools/Nurseries
  • Medical care
  • Dental care
  • Teaching
  • Building projects in the village
  • Support with agricultural improvement
  • Eco or alterative power initiatives.
  • Women empowerment programmes
  • Football/Sport coaching

Together we will reach for the stars in partnership with Geedema Sweetwater Charity Project we will make a marked improvement for the community.

Sweetwater Volunteer Project African Location

Our location in Fula Kunda is a typical village on the outskirts of Brikama a town in The Gambia, West Africa. It is a large village with approximately 800 men, women and children.

Health and dental treatment is difficult as there is no national health service. Many people cannot afford the costs, lots of families neglect health care due to financial restraints.

Education is a challenge for many families in the Gambia, therefore many children have no access to formal education.

English is the main language taught in Gambian schools; however the village does not have a school that teaches English, the children have a considerable walk to the nearest school.  There are many children in this village that do not access any education at all. Some children are orphans that are cared for by kind neighbours.

The People Behind the Volunteer Project

Alagie Ceesay

Alaghie is a Gambian man who donated the land in order for us to develop the Project.  Alaghie is a family man who has worked very hard supporting not only his own family but also the wider community.  Alaghie is always on hand for us all to benefit from his local knowledge and contacts. He is well known and well respected in Brikama where he was born and raised.

Alaghie is dedicated to bringing positive change to his local community. His hard work and commitment is invaluable in making the Geedema Sweetwater Charity Project a success.

Elaine Ripley

Elaine is a UK citizen who has travelled to The Gambia on many occasions, and was moved to try to put something in place in a effort to alleviate the suffering of many of the local people.

Elaine has a professional background where she supported Refugee communities for the Local Authority, she worked in schools across the district in support of the families, as part of her role she trained staff and pupils on the issues faced by the families she supported, families who had come from all corners of the world. This role developed in Elaine a strong sense of empathy for people from less fortunate backgrounds.

Many of the families Elaine supported were from the African Continent, she noticed despite the difficulties they faced they remained dignified and always showed an appreciative attitude of the support and love they received not only from Elaine but also from the UK as a country.  Elaine wanted to help in a more focused measurable way so she decided to leave her job and her home so she could devote the time and expertise to start the Geedema Sweetwater Charity Project.

Elaine lives 6 months in The Gambia and 6 months in the UK where she maintains links with local schools who are sponsoring the Project.

Mark Cockerton

Mark lives in East Yorkshire and works in Hackney, London. He has worked in healthcare for over 30 years, including several Chief Executive positions and went to the Gambia for the first time in 2012. After visiting a school away from the tourist trail and meeting the children and the teaching staff, he was struck by how a relatively small contribution can go a very long way in Gambia. Also by how much effort children and their parents make to ensure that they can get an education. Resolving to do something to help he has returned to Gambia on several occasions since helping the development of the school and the local community.

Mark believes that there are many people, in the UK and elsewhere, who want to do ‘their bit’ to help those without the advantages that they enjoy. Often though they don’t know where to start.  Yes, it is easy to donate some money and hope that it gets to a worthy cause and makes a difference but how about if you want to give up a week or two of your time and share your expertise with people that will really benefit from it? That is where the Geedema Sweetwater Charity Project can help by arranging a bespoke package enabling you to share your expertise with local children and their parents but leave you enough time to enjoy the sun and everything else that the real Gambia has to offer.

Mark had the honour of being the very first visitor to Geedema, loved what he saw and joined the team as the UK contact.