It takes a village…To build a village of peace.
It’s been almost 6 years since Hilary and Keith Walker have set foot in the village of Medina Salam, in The Gambia, West Africa. The village is the home of Wonder Years Centre of Excellence AKA WYCE Gambia NGO A78 (non-governmental organisation) named after their nursery in the UK ‘Wonder Years’.
When Hilary and Keith founded the project in 2002 they had a simple yet tenacious goal – create a self-sustaining community which could continue to grow long after they, and the UK arm of the project, were gone. Their role would be essentially as a bridge; bringing education, resources and people from all across the UK, to help in the area.
Although the NGO was created to help in the smallest, and possibly poorest, country on the continent of Africa, their journey was formidable. Endless negotiations with government departments, tribal leaders, sponsors, investors and volunteers meant that Hilary and Keith spent many years, and almost a quarter of a million pounds of their own money, to bring the project to life. But against seemingly overwhelming obstacles from both the UK and The Gambia, the project has continued to thrive.
In 2019, Hilary and Keith will once again travel to the region and visit Madina Salam (The village of peace). This will finally allow them to get some closure on a project they held so dear, and almost cost them their lives.
The project is now completed and heading to festivals.