This is the story of Seedlings and how one small Christian family put their faith into action and turned it into something bigger than they could of ever imagined.
Seedlings School started as a family run group set up by Ruth and Martin Kingdon. They live in Barnstaple, North Devon and they first visited The Gambia, in West Africa in the year 2000. Ruth Kingdon is currently the UK based Trustee.
They soon realised that the amount of children who were unable to attend school and get an education was immense. Many of the families found it impossible to feed their children let alone pay for their schooling. Unlike many English children, African children love learning and equally love going to school.
It was on that first visit that Ruth and Martin met Seedy, Anna and Ruthy; (pictured below with Ruthy Kingdon). The young sisters were playing in the dusty streets but was soon established that they really wanted to go to school. Their father could barely afford food for his family let alone the education. His wages were £18 per month and £14 of that was for rent! Ruth and Martin met with the young sisters parents and the local headmistress and paid their fees.
Sponsoring children was not the only work that Ruth and Martin ventured into. They distributed clothes, shoes and medical supplies. They visited schools and hospitals and went into local villages giving out basic food supplies and generally helping families and those in poverty stricken areas.
All these activities, and some new ones are still carried out today.
In December 2004 a group of 18 volunteers visited Gambia for a week. They also visited schools, churches, hospitals and even a prison taking aid and supplies for those in need. Little did the group know that this was the start of something much much bigger.
In February 2006 another group of 26 travelled the 4,000 miles from London Gatwick to Banjul airport in Gambia. With them they took over 70 suitcases packed with essential aid for the African hospitals, schools and churches. They stayed for 2 weeks travelling inland to find the more poverty stricken villages and families. In one village the team set about restoring an old derelict medical centre. Money the team had raised was given to a church enabling them to put a roof on their building!
In December 2006 28 people travelled to Gambia for 2 weeks. The amount of work carried out was nothing but amazing. The amount of money donated to this little group was simply astounding. The medical centre from the previous visit was fitted with running water and a drop in clinic was set up. It was kitted out with fresh supplies and a general tidy up was carried out. The digging up of 2 big pits for old needles and medical waste was also carried out and made safe. School rooms were painted in bright colours making it much more inviting, fresh and fun for the students.
After returning to England in 2006 a small group came together and decided that due to the massive growth and obvious support and interest it would be a good idea to consider becoming a charity.
In March 2010 the biggest group ever of 32 people travelled out for 2 weeks. Work was carried out at the school both in the classrooms and building works outside. Building work was also done at the local medical clinic and there was the usual inland trip to visit villages.
Ruth and Martin's plan was to keep things simple and small, doing whatever they could with the little they had. However, God had other plans and has taken this small group and turned it into a growing and thriving registered charity.
I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.
The Bible, Jeremiah 10 v.23