24 February 2010


Feb 24 Kathy's blog

Kathy’s blog Feb 24 – really hot today

Beginning to wind down to going home. Last evening during Happy hour Katherine won at Bingo. Her prize was any drink from behind the bar as long as it was a small beer!
picture here shows Pippa ad Ian's bedroom during a packing session for the workshops- we did this 4 times.

Went to KMJ nursery school this morning and were deafened by the children singing! Very impressive though and so many smiling faces. Had to dig and push the minibus out of deep sand just before we got there.

Visited a compound where some children we sponsor live and saw some although the rest were at school. We had seen them a few days ago so it was a settling up visit but good to see them again.

Back to the hotel where Pippa and Ian met Mr Jallow the headteacher from Barra Essau to arrange some work in the school and give him a spare extra microscope. We have 3 left over, two from a school that didn’t show and one spare. We had decided that there were 3 very outstanding teachers/schools in the workshops we could give an extra microscope to, and Barra Essau was one. Mr Giteh from Bakalarr school had also come to visit, so it was nice to meet him again.

Peter and Katherine went home today. We were sorry to see them go. They were really great in the workshops and good company outside.

At the hotel you couldn’t even get cool in the shade it was so hot. Noticed a few very sunburned people around the pool. We went to Linda’s in the evening and out for dinner. Restaurant ran out of gas so we were there a long time waiting for food. It was very nice when it did finally turn up.

Tomorrow is a rest day hopefully and a short boat trip if we can, then back to pack for leaving on Thursday.

A very full two weeks for me and three for Anne and Pippa. Weather sounds awful in the UK so not looking forward to that. At least spring should be on the way soon.

Very glad we came and did this but the amount of organisation Pippa and Ian did had to be seen to be believed.

Bye for now


23 February 2010


some pictures

Kathy’s blog Feb 23 – another very hot day

Today a reasonably early start to drive down to Jambanjelli basic cycle school. Greeted by the teacher of the grade 5 class that were linking with the Ipswich school, and we also met the Principal, a very experienced and nice man. Went to the classroom and Pippa, Ian, Wandifa, Peter and Katherine left us to go to a few nursery schools further on.

The children in the class were just finishing letters to the kids in Ipswich. The standard of English and writing was very high, especially when you think that they are only about 11 years old and learning a new language. We showed them a short movie of the children in Ipswich and then filmed them saying hello and also singing a good song. We had a few rehearsals first.

The children and their teacher were really delightful and full of fun. The biggest laugh was when they tried to teach us Mandinka. They thought our pronunciation was very funny and I think it probably was!

Afterwards they gave us a bag of oranges as a gift. We will try to get them juiced in the morning for breakfast.

On the way back we stopped off a few times at schools or to meet up with families to arrange the school fees. We then were all invited to visit Wandifa’s compound where we met up with his family and saw the new baby. He was so cute and small but really lovely looking. He was fast asleep but had been keeping them awake during the night crying a bit. We were cooked a good lunch and everyone enjoyed seeing the family again and having fun with some of the toys we had taken.

Arrived back at the hotel very hot and dusty. My face looked like a beetroot, and the pool was very good at cooling us down. Also in time for Happy Hour – Hurrah!

22 February 2010


Kathy’s blog Feb 22, 2010

I’ve been here nearly 2 weeks now and like last year had good intentions of doing a blog often. However this means remembering your email name and password! Finally thought to text Helen who was at home and ask her to send it to me.

Andrew, Ian (our son) and I came out with Ian Howard and Bob Skipper on Feb 10 to join Pippa and Anne Jackson who had been out since Feb 4 visiting schools and compounds- well you know how hard Pippa works when she comes out here! Anne is Andrew’s sister and a retired teacher. We were coming out this year to help run 4 workshops for science teachers on using microscopes in science lessons. Peter Evennett and his wife Katherine had arrived on Feb 9. Peter is a retired University lecturer in microscopy and Katherine also a scientist worked as a teacher and taught science teachers.

40 schools were invited in total to the workshops and 2 teachers from each school. We had to get 124 microscopes plus lots of small pieces of equipment out here for them. This meant absolutely huge amounts of luggage. Fortunately Thomas Cook had given us enough excess baggage allowance so when we got to Gatwick at 4.30am we got through check in fairly easily. We were met by Wandifa at Banjul. It was really good to see him again.

Each workshop took place in a school so we had to transport it all in a taxi minibus. It did all fit- just! We arrived at each school at 8.30 to set up and the workshops finished at about 4. Two ran in an organised timetable and 2 were more Gambian time. They were hard work as the standard of teachers experience varied a lot, but they were very enjoyable and I think the teachers gained quite a bit- at least I hope they did. They were very happy to be given a large holdall with the microscopes and extra stuff that we microscopists like to use, for them to take back to their own school for science lessons and hopefully a science club.

The school on the north bank meant a very early start to catch the ferry. Something I was looking forward to as I didn’t get to see the north bank on my last visit. I really liked it and would like to return.

Bob returned home last Thursday and Andrew and Ian returned home last Friday so we are a reduced group. The last workshop ran well but we did miss them.

This is my second visit to the Gambia and I see it with different and better eyes. I also really enjoyed meeting our kids we sponsored and doing a market shop followed by a good lunch at Billys and a swim at the hotel.

Today we are going down towards Brikama. Anne and I are visiting a school in Jambanjali which is linked with a school in Ipswich where a friend of Anne teaches. Pippa is visiting children further on below Brikama. In the afternoon we are hoping to visit Wandifa’s compound even though his wife has just had their second son (really just yesterday!)

If I want to get this up today I must finish now and go to the lobby to log onto the internet

Bye for now


12 February 2010



Two British nationals namely Dr Nick Morris and Anita Bew were on Sunday 31st January 2010 awarded honorary citizenship at a ceremony held in Gunjur village in recognition of their long-standing contributions to the Gunjur Marlborough Link which started some twenty eight years ago.

In his acceptance speech Dr Nick Morris who founded the link thanked the community for recognizing his efforts in promoting the link with the aim of creating a new world order for peace, justice and equality.
"I am moved and humbled by this event. This is the culmination of an extraordinary adventure which started in another part of West Africa - Togo. My experience in Togo where I worked as a teacher for one year and stayed with a warm, caring Muslim family set me on the journey to the Gunjur-Marlborough Link. I returned home so much richer for the experience I had and wanted to promote cultural exchange for other people." he said.
He added that over one thousand five hundred people have exchanged visits from Marlborough and Gunjur since the inception of the link with the prime aim of learning about each others cultures.
"Over nine hundred people from Marlborough visited Gunjur and stayed with families to learn their culture and all of them say that their lives have been positively changed for the experience. This is a remarkable experiment in human relations", he added.
He likened the Gunjur-Marlborough link to a mango tree which is long-lasting, has intense foliage that provides shade, fun and is fruitful, ending with the poser "what is the purpose of a relationship if it is not fruitful?"
For her part, Anita Bew thanked the people of Gunjur for their warm welcome and hospitality that makes her feel at home.
"I have always been told Gunjur is my home, but it is now official. I must thank my hosts whose warm welcome, care and assistance on my first visit in 1985 really meant so much to me that I was motivated to do more to promote the link. I have had many thing from Gunjur but this surpasses everything", she said, clutching back tears.
The Alkalo of Gunjur Village Sulayman Touray thanked the recipients for their efforts which, according to him, have yielded positive results for the Gunjur Community and the Country as well.
"You richly deserved this award for your efforts, which have gone a long way to promote the advancement of this community. There is no better award we can give you than this to show our appreciation for your loyal and fruitful friendship over the years", he said.

The Governor of Western Region, Lamin Sanneh described the Gunjur-Marlborough Link as a bright example of a partnership that can positively change the reality of our world and bring development to poorer parts of the globe.
"Gunjur-Marlborough link has not only helped in the education of young people, but it has also provided further education for people from the community who have now become assets to our country, especially in the education sector", he observed.
Drawing on the benefits of the link, Governor Sanneh made mention of various partnerships that have been formed between schools in The Gambia and those in the United Kingdom which he said have been inspired by the Gunjur-Marlborough Link.
The Gnansimba of Gunjur, Mai Kebbeh, also expressed thanks and gratitude to Gunjur-Marlborough link on behalf of Gunjur women folk for establishing gardens that have served as sources of livelihoods for them.
"Gunjur-Marlborough link has immensely helped progress in this community, because we(women) use proceeds from our gardens to support the education of our children. This is helping us in laying a firm foundation for the future progress of our society", she said.