15 February 2017


Saturday 11 February - Children and Letter Forms

(Pippa has been unable to send any news for the last few days. The power situation has not improved and the internet has almost completely vanished. She managed to send this to Dave on Wednesday.)

Yankuba and I, with Jereh driving, had a really good day.  We covered a lot of ground, visiting, photographing and taking letter forms to children in Bakau, Banyaka, Tujereng, Jambanjelly, Siffoe, Sandele, Brikama, Farato and Tabokoto.  Quite a marathon effort - we were very pleased with ourselves!

Sunday 12 February - A Quieter Day

Miriam and Richard came with us to visit a couple of compounds in which they were specially interested.  First, a very poor compound, where a Mum and her seven children live in a house that was only partly completed when the Dad passed away suddenly about two years ago.  We have managed to arrange sponsorship for the elder five children and the next one is just starting at Nursery, so we will try for him too.  One pressing problem is the roof of the house, which leaks profusely when it rains.  It is not just the corrugate that is the problem - the supporting timber joists are riddled with termites, so the whole roof needs replacing.  Miriam has received several donations and felt that this might be a good project on which to spend the money.  We asked the Mum to get estimates for the work - Wandifa and Abdoulie said that they would help her find reliable workmen.  We will have to wait to see if Miriam's money will be enough...
A brief visit to another sponsored child and then on to the family compound associated with the KMJ Nursery School that we have been visiting and helping for many years.  Miriam and Richard have a special interest here as they sponsor a younger daughter of the head of the compound, a delightful older man who we have grown to be very fond of over the past years.  It was with great sadness that we heard that he had passed away a few days before our arrival in The Gambia, so this visit was to pay our respects and offer our condolences as well as to see the sponsored children there.
We returned to the hotel fairly early but then spent some time sorting the increasing number of returned letter forms and the associated sponsorship payments.

Monday 13 February - More Children and Letter Forms

Two newly sponsored girls received their 'welcome to Pageant' pencil cases and we bought a large number of exercise books that had been donated under our ethical gifts scheme.  A visit to Lutheran LBS and Nursery was rather disappointing - the installation of the tap and piped mains water into the school seemed to have gone well, but the work on the toilets left rather a lot to be desired.  I hope that our next visit will see a big improvement... Abdoulie is going to check to see that the workmen know exactly what they have to do.
One fascinating visit was to see how the cooking pots, that we buy so many of as gifts, are made.  I had always assumed that they were made in a factory but no... they are all made in compounds by small groups of men in handmade moulds made of a special sand.  The whole process was explained to me by a very kind man from one such group  - I took several photos and will add them and some explanatory text to a postscript to this blog when I get home.
More sorting of letters and money when we got back to the hotel, after which I was really delighted to see Modou, our first ever medical student, who is just about to leave for New York to do his elective studies in his final year.  He is to spend about six weeks in the hospital there and is so excited about it all... wonderful, I am so thrilled for him.

Tuesday 14 February - Even More Children and Letter Forms

We really are getting to the end of them now.  Two more newly sponsored children received pencil cases and we agreed the cost of the meals for the Gambia College workshops... and paid the catering manager accordingly.  
We then called in to Brikama Nema  LBS to see how our first project there had gone.  We had agreed to fund an extension of the mains water supply to provide two taps at the existing toilet blocks in the school.  We were very pleased to find three taps, one at the staff toilets and one at each of the girls and boys toilets.  The third tap had been funded by the SMC of the school and was a very welcome surprise.  Our next project at the school is the building of another block of toilets - at present there are only two girls and two boys cubicles for the whole school.  The new block will provide six more toilets, three girls and three boys, so should help the situation.  We gave the head teacher half of the estimated cost - she will call Wandifa when that money has been used and he will release the second payment if all is going well.  To say she was pleased with the whole thing is an understatement!
More completed letter forms and money sorted on our return to the hotel - our first port of call tomorrow will have to be the bank...

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