24 February 2013


Back from The Gambia

Well we are back in the UK and it is very cold! 35 degrees difference from when we left.
It was very difficult to get on to the internet when we were in The Gambia so I have had to wait to let you have some more news on our trip.
We spent a week over there and actually had two rest days so they were really appreciated. The first full day we spent visiting compounds. It was lovely to see the "children" we sponsor (they are 20 and 21) and I was delighted to see the garden that Ebrima had made- lots of salad, cabbages, carrots and also two large banana trees. We visited Abdoulie's compound and met his mother. She is a very keen gardener and had a large plot very neatly kept with lots of vegetables growing well. Then we visited Wandifa's family and met Mariama and his two sons Mo Lamin and Ebe.

 The two microscopy workshops on Sunday and Monday went very well considering we had done very little to prepare for them. Andrew and Ian (Groves) did some chemistry with cornflour making a "bomb" which went down well and Helen did a chromatography session with different coloured pens. The idea that a red pen had three colours in the ink was a surprise for the student teachers. For the microscopy we looked at flowers, leaves, fabric and anything we could get hold of including a piece of termite mound and several insects. We also looked at human hair and compared it to the synthetic hair that some of the women were wearing. The student teachers (and science club) presented us all with gifts and also with a marvellous large picture of a carved stereo microscope. Hopefully Pippa can get it back as it was too large for our cases. Look out for it when you visit Pippa and Ian.

After the workshops we had a day at the hotel and then on the Wednesday we went with Pippa, Ian and Wandifa to the north bank. For those of you who haven't done this, the trip involves catching the first ferry at 7 in the morning. It left on time and the crossing in the dark was very cold. Once the sun was up it soon became too hot though. We had a session at Barra Essau upper basic school with microscopes as we were leaving them two and some lenses for the science classes. A very impressive school and high quality teaching was evident. We then drove on to Bakalarr and left Pippa and Ian to discuss the school projects while we went with Wandifa to visit a new child we had sponsored. The family were so lovely it was a real pleasure to meet them. Finally back to the ferry picking up Pippa and Ian on the way. Got back to the hotel at 6 and had a welcome beer. Even after three washes we were very orange from the red sand.
Finally another day off and then back on the flight home on Friday. On this final day we had a some time with Yankuba who was working at the hotel.

A lovely, if a bit hectic, week and we all really enjoyed meeting many Gambians as well as the lads from Christs Hospital who worked very hard with their sports and art sessions at the schools. Thanks to Wandifa, Abdoulie and Yankuba as well as Pippa and Ian and all those who helped out. Looking forward to going next year although sadly without Helen and Ian who will be at University all being well.

Apologies for all misspelling!

Kathy (Andrew Helen and Ian Groves)

below are some pictures to show you what it was like.

Helen blowing bubbles for the children at Wandifa's compound

Gambia college for teacher training where we carried out the science and microscopy workshops
for the trainee teachers. Hopefully they will then go out to schools and pass on some practical teaching of science
with the microscopes and equipment we have left them

After  the first workshop - group photo including Linda who came along and helped us out that day 

At the end of each workshop the teachers had to teach some children what they had learned. The children came in specially for this

More children being shown the microscopes

Pippa in discussion over something of interest!

A typical view of the class

The beautiful picture presented by the President of the science club of Gambia College to Pippa
for Pageant

At the airport with Abdoulie and Wandifa

Listening to Yankuba's radio interview for the BBC while having a drink at the hotel

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