Meet the Prestwich women living on £1 a day to raise money for a Gambia school

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Madeleine Penfold, a photographer from Prestwich in Manchester, is on a mission to raise £10,000 to renovate the Erenjang nursery school in Kotu in The Gambia after a visit left her saddened at the conditions the children are educated in.

To raise money and awareness Madeleine, 24, has been living on just £1 per day throughout April.

Madeleine is now 25 days in to her challenge, with just under £3000 to go to reach her target.

Madeleine’s colleague and friend Hannah Carrington, also from Prestwich, first went to the Gambia when she was 18 she was part of an African drumming group and wanted to find out more about the music. On her third visit, in April 2013, she asked Madeleine to join her for what turned out to be an eye-opening experience.

Madeleine Penfold, who is also the manager of Salford-based Foundry Film Studios, said: “I was only there for two weeks but I had never felt so much love, warmth and acceptance. When I first met Fatima, aged five, we had a special bond and when I learned her family couldn’t afford to put her through school I immediately agreed to help pay the £60 a year for her education.

“They deserve the best possible start in life, and education is everything. We have the power to change this so why shouldn’t we?”.

As well as Madeleine’s decision to live on £1 a day, which is also the amount most of the families have to live on in The Gambia, they have set up a Just Giving page where people can donate to the project and help them reach their £10,000 goal https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/erenjang-nursery

The money raised by Madeleine through her ‘£1 a day for 30 days’ challenge will go to getting two teachers qualified, installing electricity into the school, installing working toilets and a new septic tank, rebuilding a shelter from the sun in hot seasons and rain in stormy seasons, installing a new school floor, buying new school equipment, extending and fixing the roof to stop flooding in the classroom and helping children with their school fees.

Madeleine said: “It’s been a hard challenge so far, and I still have five days to go, but it’s nothing compared to the conditions Hannah and I saw on our visit and what we are both passionate about helping to change.

“At the start of each week I take my £7 for that week and buy oats, bananas, rice, carrots, kale, broccoli, apples, tinned chopped tomatoes, tinned kidney beans, stock cubes, salt, onions, sweet potatoes and fresh tomatoes – all from value and discount ranges. I have oats and banana every morning and a rice and veg meal for tea, plus sweet potato and tomato if I get hungry.

“My main challenges have been the lack of energy. Also working in a studio constantly being surrounded by food is hard. Social situations are hard too. I can’t eat or drink anything or do anything that I would normally do really. So many social situations, if not all, are centered around spending money, which really makes you think. I cycle to work each morning so I’m not spending money on travel either.

“It was particularly difficult over the Easter weekend – living on £4 with no family meals or chocolate was particularly tough, but every time I start to find it hard I just remind myself of the good the £10,000 for the Erenjang nursery project will do and that keeps me going.”