16 April 2016


Unity Nursery in a celebration parade in Banjul

Yankuba sent these photos yesterday when the team had been to Banjul with Pagant members Ann and Brian.  The children of Unity Nursery were involved in a celebration parade organised by Banjul city council. Don't they look cute? 

Mohammed (our little sponsored boy with what appears to be cerebral palsy) is the boy in the middle of this first photo. 

Yankuba sent them as he thought they might be worth putting on the website - and I think they certainly are!

Many thanks, team - Ann and Brian, I hope your trip is going well.


07 April 2016


Signing off....... until next time!

The last few hours of a trip are, as ever, a flurry of packing suitcases, paying last bills, fond farewells - and the inevitable final sponsor letters to zip into hand luggage that are pressed into our hands as we go through passport control. These always provide excellent reading material on the plane home, and we are so pleased to hand them on to our wonderful members who sponsor so many children and students during the year.
Having said a big "thank you" to our fabulous Gambian 'A' Team of Wandifa, Abdoulie and Yanks, it remains only for me to say a further heartfelt thank you to Frances (Frankie), Caroline, Rachel and Ellie whose good humour, excellent organisational skills and adventurous spirit ensured a great trip, filled with much laughter and fun. Thank you also girls for working out the finances - only you know how lost I would have been if it had been left to me to do!
Hopefully we shall all be able to do another trip in the future (once we have recovered from this one!).
(I am posting this for Tina, and would just like to add my thanks to ALL of them - I just wish I had been able to be there as well....  never mind, next time, hopefully...)

04 April 2016


Day 11 - goats, rice and crocs!

Today was our last full day- our trip has flown by! We had an early start to make the most of the time and began with a trip to Serekunda market to buy three large sacks of rice. We then delivered these sacks, along with the remaining cooking pot and bowl, to three families, identified by Wandifa and Yankuba to be in need of support. They were all received very gratefully- one lady was so overwhelmed, it was very clear that the gift meant so much and that it would really help her family.

A family pleased with their gifts

Goat negotiations came next and Yankuba took the lead here. We managed to secure a healthy looking pregnant goat for a lady who is in great need. We arranged for the goat to stay in its current compound until the lady has finished building her goat house so that the goat can be safe. 

Our newest goat!

Next, we headed to Banjul to meet with Naba and Modou Jeng for a drink. It was lovely to catch up with Naba who is working very hard just like Modou. She looked beautiful as ever and we wish them both the best of luck in their upcoming exams. 

A small pit stop! 

Tina with Naba

This afternoon, we met Linda for a late lunch at Calypso, a restaurant overlooking a crocodile pool and the beach. We enjoyed a very lovely meal and saw at least 12 crocodiles, including one eating an eel! We were also joined by a charming little monkey who proved to be great entertainment! 

Tina, Rachel, Linda, Frances, Caroline and Ellie at the crocodile pool

Company for lunch! 

Company for lunch!  

Tomorrow we will return home. This trip has been a huge success, thanks to everyone's hard work and enthusiasm. We have hugely missed having Pippa and Ian here, but as ever, Wandifa, Yankuba and Abdoulie have been superstars and a lot has been achieved. Abdoulie, you have driven us safely and have looked after us so well. Wandifa, you have been a great organiser and a wonderful comedian and have ensured our trip be productive and lots of fun. Yankuba, you have managed to juggle and organise so much and always manage to make sure things happen as they should, while always watching out for us and laughing at our jokes. Well done and a huge thank you to everyone involved.

Until next time...

Day 10 - treat time!

Today was definitely a favourite of ours! Due to it being street cleaning day, we were stuck at the hotel in the morning, so we continued our lazy day! In the afternoon it was time for treat day! We had 6 children and 3 adults join us, alongside the Pageant team and began with a feast of chicken yassa and chips. 

Isha enjoying her yassa and chips! 

We then played frisbee and football rounders on the beach before having a quick paddle in the sea. The children were all so keen on the water that we then treated them to a swim in the pool, which was definitely the highlight of their day! Alaghie was a superstar, swimming with complete confidence. His smile was bigger than ever despite his teeth chattering from the moment he got in! To end the day we gave out small gifts to all the children and adults and then waved goodbye to a bus of very smiley, rather exhausted children! 

Rachel, Amie, Fatima, Isha, Ida and Caroline playing piggy in the middle 

Fatima enjoying the sea
Frances with Alaghie in the pool

02 April 2016


Day 9 - team dinner

Hello everyone! 

Not much to report from today as we treated ourselves to a lazy day, after our trip up country yesterday. We enjoyed some free time at the hotel and most of us caught slightly too much sun! 

In the evening we went for a fun dinner with Wandifa, Abdoulie, Modou and Linda. Wandifa in particular was on great form and thoroughly enjoyed his chocolate cake! It was lovely to hear all about Modou's studies and the possibility of him going abroad for a short placement in a hospital. We are keeping his fingers crossed that he is one of the lucky few who will be able to do so. 

Tina, Modou, Frances, Rachel, Wandifa, Ellie, Caroline, Linda and Abdoulie
A happy Wandifa with cake!

01 April 2016


Day 8 - hip hip hooray!

What an adventure! Today we left at 5am for our long drive up country. On the way going we collected and gave out several letter forms for sponsored children, including one boy who had one of the best reports we have ever seen! We arrived in Janjanbureh (formerly Georgetown), which is the furthest we have ever been up country, at about half past 10 (as ever, Abdoulie was spot on with timings!). Janjanbureh is on McCarthy Island, about an hour East from Jarreng, Yankuba's home village. We saw snakes, baboons and lots of birds on the way, as well as busy villagers, starting out their days. 

We found ourselves a boat and off we went down the River Gambia in search of hippos. We were rather nervous due to discussions over the days leading up to our trip as hippos can be dangerous creatures. We had been told that pregnant women are not allowed on boat trips to see hippos as a hippo had once flipped a boat! However, as we didn't fear this, we decided to give it a go! The wildlife we saw was incredible! This is what we saw: colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, Eagles, black and white kingfishers, a monitor lizard, vultures, weaver birds and their incredible nests, donkeys, African dada birds, hornbills, Abyssinian rollers, egrets, black and white herons and A HIPPO!!! We also enjoyed some delicious mango which was ripe due to the proximity of the river. The hippo was amazing to see and we were very lucky as many people go without catching a glimpse. 
 Caroline, Ellie, Rachel and Frances on the boat

Wandifa, Tina and Yanks on the boat

Someone's watching us! 

An eagle

After the boat trip, Yankuba proudly showed us round his old Senior Secondary School, Armitage SSS, where we also met Lamin, a sponsored student currently studying there. We looked around the dormitories and grounds which were still the same as when Yankuba was there, apart from being rather run down. 

Next stop was to Soma, to visit the health centre there, where a Pageant sponsored student now works. We delivered the gift token mosquito nets and buckets, as well as some clothes and children's toys to them and were met by some lovely ladies who's babies are in the centre to help them gain weight. They all seemed delighted with the gifts we had taken.

Mothers and children at the health centre

On the way back to the hotel, we collected another couple of letters and bought some firewood and mint for Wandifa. We arrived back at about half past 9, luckily just in time for some well-earned dinner of chicken yassa and butterfish. What a day!