Devizes MP Claire Perry and daughter Eliza, 13, have just returned from a private visit to The Gambia living with a Muslim family in the village of Gunjur, which has been linked to Marlborough for 30 years. 

The link between Marlborough and Gunjur was established by the Marlborough Brandt Group (MBG) in 1981 following the publication of the Brandt report North South – A Programme for Survival.

So far 1,600 people have been on exchange visits between the two communities.

Mrs Perry is a governor of St John’s School, Marlborough, and chairs the all-party Connecting Communities parliamentary group.

She visited the many projects in which MBG’s partner non-governmental organisation in Gunjur has been involved, including vegetable gardens which provide food and income from sales of vegetables for the families of the women who manage them.

There is also a sanitation programme, a milling machine which grinds rice into flour, a health education programme which has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the incidence of malaria and childhood illnesses, a pre-school through which 3,500 children have passed and primary school which contains a five-classroom block built in 1985 by students from St John’s and Marlborough College with local volunteers.

She had many conversations with community leaders about some of the issues facing the village and with the British High Commissioner David Morley.

During her visit Mrs Perry opened a new market place in the centre of Gunjur built within a month in August 2012 by a young volunteers from St John’s School and Marlborough College with local volunteers.

Eliza Perry spent a day teaching in the pre-school and helping women with their vegetable gardening.