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  • Writer's pictureElena Edwards






I left The Gambia. I flew back to the UK on my own. My co-pilot overslept, and missed the plane. As I was dosing of to sleep, all I was seeing were the images of the children on the mud floor in the school, the 100’s of children in the schoolyard, the lack of so many basic facilities…

Somehow, I expected not to see much in Africa. Perhaps this is what we are programmed to live. We are shown documentaries of life in Africa so often. There are always communities in need. I’ve just returned from these communities, and not much was done by the Western World. How did they live under an Empire occupation and nothing happened during that time? What happened to all the money raised by so many charities that claimed they were helping Africa? I am still thinking about it.

What does Africa need? Aid or education? Are we going to send them parcels for the rest of our lives or are they going to start developing themselves one day, and soon? Why develop and do something on your own when you are giving help as soon as you raise your hand? I strongly believe that if you give someone power to feed you, you are also giving them power to starve you.

What if, by feeding Africa, we are starving Africa?

The flight between London and Banjul takes 5.5 hours. That’s plenty of time to talk to yourself…

Offering them money to build the school was never going to do anything. Education will. It will take time. There will need to be an African movement to see a change. They need to have the desire for change. They need to want the development. And then they will develop. But, I am not going anywhere soon. I am dreaming of seeing this movement before I am gone…

As soon as I returned to work, people started asking me about my African adventure, the car rally, and what was going to be my next adventure. When I told them that I was going to go back to Africa, to build a school, there was much excitement among many of my business colleagues and clients. Many offered to help raise the funds and be part of this project. To be able to register the donations through the business accounts, I need to register a charity. Without the charity registration number, nobody was going to make any donation from their business accounts.

And so, on the 2nd of February 2015, I filed an application to open the charity and named it Africa Angels.Who are the Africa Angels? First, us, the ones who are offering a place for education. Secondly, the children. They will be the Africa Angels, by implementing all that they’ve learned at school on their own land, and help Africa develop from within. Unfortunately, there is an old route to gaining the charity status. A certain old English language needs to be spoken and written. I have managed to master some of the modern English, over the past 17 years I have been living in the UK but no way am I accustomed to Shakespearean way of living.  

The Charity Commission rejected my application, because the African party was not to be trusted, they could not see the public benefit of the charity, and because my Old English language did not exist. They also requested either a treasurer’s account or charity bank account. No banks wanted to open a bank account without a Charity registration number issued by the Charity Commission. I could have employed an agency to fill in the application once more. But why? Why we cannot speak modern English nowadays?

They were helpful though, and advised how to proceed further. They did not refuse to register the charity but rather said that they cannot proceed further with the registration, unless I re-submitted the file as requested.

Without a charity registration number, all my business friends backed off. They have never helped, but that is another story.

I promised the children that I’ll demolish the said old school and I’ll build a new school. I also asked them to trust me.

There was no way back now. I told the teachers that I couldn’t register the charity just yet.

“So, what shall we do with the £1000 your friends left here with us for the pillars?”

“Start making the bricks”, I said. “I’ll send the money to demolish the old school as soon as you have a team in place to demolish it.”

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