We contacted Goal for The Gambia ahead of travelling out to Gambia for our 2 week holiday in Jan 2011. We had seen the reviews posted on Trip Advisor and also on this website and thought that it would be a very different experience to spend a day with Sandy and her team and also assist a worth while cause with our donations of stationary items. We agreed with Sandy that she would collect us from our hotel and we would spend the day visiting the nursery and the Arabic school, which was quite something. We ate a traditional Gambian lunch cooked by the family of one of the helpers and the whole day was unforgettable!
The spirit of Sandy and her team (Fansu, Bliss and Lamin) is quite amazing. They are making a real difference and should be so proud of the work that they are doing. The Gambian people that we met are so grateful at what is being achieved and it is lovely to see this first hand. The children were just brilliant and their families were so welcoming.
As for the donations, they really have very little and are very happy to receive anything at all. We were amazed that the children wanted items such as empty plastic bottles or empty plastic bags so that they could blow them up and play with them! If you are flying with Thomas Cook, do ask them to add an extra free allowance of 10kg to your luggage allowance as you are taking goods to a charity. As long as your charity donations are packed in a separate bag to the rest of your luggage, it is free of charge. When I asked about the free 10kg in the travel shop, they did not know it existed, so I insisted they called their customer service centre and it was added to our booking without any hassle.
After our day out to the schools, we arranged another day out with Fansu as our tour guide and Lamin as our driver. Their fees were much cheaper than Arch Tours (they are the preferred tour company) or the Thomas Cook trips and we had a really fun day out, which was catered around our choices rather than a trip with a structured itinerary. Therefore, check our Fansu's trips before booking any through the tour companies.
We had a great time and will be keeping our eyes on the website to see how the schools are coming along. We wish you all the very best of luck.