Sergeant Maxi helps School children in the Gambia

As Commonwealth Day 2024 is celebrated today, a British Army soldier has helped children in The Gambia, where he was born, get kitted out with school uniforms from the UK.

Sergeant Sada ‘Maxi’ Sumareh, from Churchill’s Town, The Gambia, is the personal assistant to the director of personnel at the British Army’s headquarters in Andover.

Following the sudden closure of Worcestershire’s Abberley Hall School, voted the best prep school in Tatler’s schools guide last year, a British Army officer, whose children attended the school, reached out to Maxi for his links to The Gambia.

Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Geoff Brocklehurst MC, HQ 6th (United Kingdom) Division, read about Maxi’s links to The Gambia when the British Army published his story on Commonwealth Day last year.

Lt Col Brocklehurst thought a school in Africa might benefit from receiving school uniforms and sports kits, donated by parents of children, aged three to 13 years old, who attended the English school.

Maxi gladly took on the challenge in his own time and found a military school, close to The Gambia’s west coast, that was delighted with the offer of new uniforms, sports kits, and school bags.

Maxi then traveled to Worcestershire where he and Lt Col Brocklehurst, with a volunteer group of parents, sorted and packed boxes of uniform and sports clothing onto a container lorry for subsequent movement to The Gambia.

The kids were so happy. It was all over the news. I was chatting to one of the older children who said he wants to join the British Army.SERGEANT SADA ‘MAXI’ SUMAREH

Lt Col Brocklehurst said:

“It was a tragedy that Abberley Hall, such a vibrant and fun school closed. But the children, parents, and teachers are delighted that we have been able to make a difference in The Gambia.

“Special thanks must go to all the parents who kindly donated all the clothing, as well as their time in sorting and packing it all up. This could not have been achieved without the assistance of the Abberley Hall Foundation who paid for the shipping of the container from Worcestershire to The Gambia.”

Several weeks later, the cargo reached its destination in Gambia, Old Yundum Primary and Upper Basic School.

Then, just before Christmas, Maxi traveled at his own cost to The Gambia to oversee the grand opening of all the boxes containing the school uniforms and sports kit.

It was a big occasion for the school with local media, including TV, turning up to a special ceremony, led by the camp commander and senior officers from the Gambian armed forces, where the children tried on their new uniforms.

Maxi said,

“The kids were so happy. It was all over the news. I was chatting to one of the older children who said he wants to join the British Army.”

So great was the gratitude of the school for the donation that they included the name of the closed English school as part of their name and adopted Abberley Hall’s uniform as their own.

This was not the first time that Maxi has given back to his community in The Gambia. The previous Christmas saw him take a load of football boots to his country of birth.

At the time, he said:

“It was lovely seeing the children running around. All I saw was myself as a little kid running and playing in the streets without shoes.”

“I remember when we marked Commonwealth Day in school and dressed up to represent the dress of various countries. We would celebrate and do a performance in front of parents.”

Maxi serves as part of the Adjutant General’s Corps in the British Army’s Staff and Personnel Support Branch.

Aged 38, he joined the Army in 2008 and went to school in Devon to join some of his family who had moved from The Gambia to the UK.

Maxi says:

“I was a good kid but one of those kids who would not listen, and if I had stayed on the streets of Plymouth, the way I was going who knows where I would have ended up.

“Joining the Army transformed me from a boy to a man and taught me a lot about self-control and discipline.

“I am very proud of myself, as is my family, for what I have achieved, including traveling the world.”

Maxi, who is married with two young children, continues to support children in The Gambia where he sponsors six schoolchildren from his Army salary.