10 November 2016
Days 8 and 9
Day 8 - Wednesday
To the North Bank today. A very early start. The kitchen staff kindly opened early so we could get some breakfast before we left. In the cab and off to Banjul Port at 6.15am for the 7.00 ferry. A good crossing saw us in our cab at Barra, the port on the North Bank, at 8.00.
The cab we had was exceptionally noisy and bumpy particularly on the North Bank roads which are mostly untarmacked and made of compacted sand with many potholes and ruts.
The North Bank is very different from the South Bank. It is considerably poorer and the villages and communities are fewer and farther apart.
After about one and a quarter hours we reached Albreda Lower Basic school where we met with Fafa Jobe, the head teacher, and the regional schools cluster coordinator. We have carried out projects before at Albreda LBS (see PAGEANT Albreda page) and were here to talk about new projects. Fafa kindly provided us with a breakfast of bread and sardines.
The school has no mains electricity and wants a solar installation; a panel and storage batteries. These would be used to power the computers in the resource room and some security lighting for night time. One of the issues we have is that the school already has 8 solar panels on the roof that are not being used, along with some batteries that don’t work. We were told that they could not be used because they belong to The Ministry rather than the school and couldn’t be used without permission. Getting permission would be a long process. Bureaucracy at large!
We handed over some money for projects approved so that they could go ahead – the construction of a perimeter walls and tiling of the teachers’ quarters. Albreda is so remote that the teachers need to live on site. Fafa than told us of some further refurbishment projects he would like to carry out.
We then went to Bakary Saidykhan’s house in Juffreh. Bakary is Wandifa’s brother and is also father to Ousman, who Kathy and I sponsor. We chatted and were kindly provided with some lunch.
We then returned to the port via Aja Fatou Bojang Senior Secondary School, Albreda where we met with Ousman. We arrived at the port very tired, thirsty and dusty.
There was one final treat in store. As we crossed the river a school of dolphins passed by. There must have been at least 20 of them. Seeing them certainly helped make a tiring but rewarding day.
Unfortunately, no pictures today as I had a flat battery in the camera and had forgotten to pack the spare. Sorry about that. Pippa will add some when we get back to the UK.
Day 9 =Thursday
A quieter day. We started by visiting 4 schools to welcome newly sponsored students and giving them their pencil cases and taking their photos. We were also chasing up missing reports. We do need the reports to check on progress.
We then went to The Reach Centre, which I hadn’t been to before. On the campus there is a school, a church, a hostel for young students, a study centre and a library. I’ve not seen anything quite like this in The Gambia before. One of our sponsored students lives there enabling easy travel to school.
On then to the Lutheran Nursery and Lower Basic School. We ae funding a project there to provide piped water from the mains into the school premises. Unfortunately, the Water Board has not completed the final pipe work into the schools so we were unable to sign off that project as completed.
We did talk about some other possible projects including running water pipes further into the school to the toilet block and paying for those toilets to be refurbished. Other possible projects there to consider include now windows, as the existing ones are so small that they let in very little light, and possibly some suspended ceilings to provide heat installation.
The young persons’ hostel at The Reach Centre
Lutheran Nursery and Lower Basic School