30 January 2019
Arrival and first full day (29/30 Jan)
With widespread snow forecast over much of the UK we were glad to depart Gatwick more or less on time. The northerly wind causing the cold snap blew us quickly south and we arrived in very good time in Banjul. As well as three really heavy suitcases containing our personal stuff and gifts, we had six large boxes of microscopes and science equipment for the two days of workshops. Luckily we had been provided with a letter for customs provided by the registrar of Gambia College and this smoothed our way through. We were met by our three Gambian friends and Pageant agents Wandifa, Abdoulie and Yankuba and were soon on our way to the hotel.
After a rest and unpacking we went to the refurbished Bantaba which has been transformed into an Italian restaurant complete with pizza ovens.
On Wednesday morning we left the hotel with the aim of visiting Gambia College, to finalise arrangements for the use of two laboratories and for the provision of breakfast and lunch for the student teachers during the two days. Before we arrived there we went to the ABC Nursery, Lower Basic and Upper Basic school to see and welcome a newly sponsored grade 7 girl. She was presented with her Pageant welcome pack of a pencil case containing rulers pencils etc for school. The ABC school looked very pleasant with plenty of shade. It is assisted by a Norwegian Foundation and has only recently started taking UB students. It is pleasantly small by Gambian standards having only 376 students, and an average class size of about 33.
The well-shaded ABC Nursery LB and UB school
On then, to Gambia College. Mr Ceesay, the Head of Science, whom we usually meet to arrange the workshops, unfortunately could not be there to meet us, but had arranged his deputy to be there and help. The main problem facing us was that the large tables in the Biology Lab, where we usually carry out the microscopy workshop, had been removed without authorisation and had been replaced with single chairs only. Useless for a practical workshop.
James, the head lab technician, arrived and had found some of the tables in another facility nearby. He and Pippa later tracked down most of them so we are hoping they will be in place for the workshop. We have a plan B to use another chemistry lab should this prove impossible!
We also needed to arrange the catering (breakfast and lunch for 50 each day) for the workshops. We have set the wheels in motion and are waiting for confirmation of cost and place, as the usual restaurant is being refurbished. We have been assured it will be completed for our dates in February. We will go back before these to check everything is OK.
A rustic scene at Gambia College
Having finished at the college we went to Jambanjelly to meet some sponsored students and pay their sponsorship monies over.
A return to the hotel mid-afternoon meant we had time for a sit in the very welcome sunshine. Tonight we are meeting up with Linda and going to a local restaurant.