GAMBIAN culture was celebrated by Wiltshire teenagers as they prepare to travel to an African village to work with locals through community project Thriving Through Venture.

Young people met members of Bristol based charity Kombo Sillah Association and together explored traditions, religions, food and culture during a charity day.

During the meeting a young Gambian woman also revealed her experience of Female Genital Mutilation, a deeply embedded tradition in Gambia that the charity is working to eradicate throughout the country.

Nick Maurice, part of thriving Through Venture and the Brandt Society, said: “It was an opportunity for people who originally come from Gunjur but are now living in Bristol to talk to the young TTV group from Wiltshire schools about the history of The Gambia, their culture, their Islamic faith and the important role that it plays in their lives.

“A young woman also courageously brought up the important subject of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) of which she was a victim when a child and which is widely practised in The Gambia but which members of the KSA are helping to educate people in their home country in an attempt to eradicate this awful but deeply embedded tradition.”

The group ate a Gambian lunch of Benechin, a rice dish with meat and a peanut butter sauce and learnt traditional greeting Salaam Aleikum which they will be expected to use once they reach Gunjur.

12 young people from across the county will travel to The Gunjur in August and spend two weeks living alongside locals as they work to improve the quality of life there, by launching a business plan to improve mango export links.

The trip will also be logged through a series of portraits and stories captured by the teenagers who will interview some of the oldest members of the local Gunjur Community.

The charity is the dream of educational psychologist Caro Strover, who was inspired to help teenagers after noticing a sharp rise in mental health issues in young people.

Mrs Strover said: “This will give these young people the life experience to launch into their adult life, boosting connectedness and belonging. It will improve strength and connections across generations with the elderly.”

Thriving Through Venture met Kombo Sillah Association on June 23 at their offices in Bristol.