28 November 2019


Thursday... Brikama day

We left the hotel at 8.30am as planned...the traffic was not too bad to start with and I thought we might be at Gambia College earlier than planned. However, it all snarled up midway along the road from the turntable to the airport junction, so in the end we arrived at just after 9.20am.

No sign of Nakulang.. after a search Yankuba found that he was taking a special once-a-month class and would be available just after 11am... would we ever actually get to talk to him, I wondered?

Off on a few family visits:

A bag of rice and a letter for a senior student and his family.

More rice and a personal gift for an Upper Basic student and her family, plus a visit to her school for a photo.

A visit to a family with a newly sponsored child to give him his 'welcome to Pageant' pencil case... and here we hit a snag. This child is a younger sibling of some already-sponsored children. The father had contacted the sponsor directly to ask for his assistance with this younger boy, as he had just started at nursery school... and the sponsor had agreed to help. Wandifa phoned the father to say we were on our way to visit the boy in school... and was told he was at home because he was sick. When we arrived at the house... no sign of this sick boy! He eventually arrived, full of beans, with a group of friends... when asked why he had not gone to school he replied that there was no school on Wednesday or Thursday! It transpired that he was not attending nursery school at all...only the local Arabic 'school' that runs on three mornings a week. As the father well knows, this does not qualify him for sponsorship...a real case of trying to obtain money by false pretences. I don't know how the sponsor will react...but we did not give the boy a pencil case.

Back to Gambia College...and at last we managed to have our long-awaited discussion with Nakulang about the Practical Science workshops for 2020. He was delighted to hear that we will be able to include physics this year as Joe Brock will be coming out with us after an absence of several years.

[More about Pageant's science and other workshops]

We fixed the date, subject to checking with the overall College timetable, discussed the provision of breakfast and lunch during the workshops and went to see James (the excellent science technician) about the rooms and facilities. We are going to have to track down some tables as we did last year, as they have been spirited away again, but hopefully all will work out OK.

We checked our stock of books and found that we have 34 physics books there, so will not need to have too many more printed.

It was a relief to have all that sorted out...so off we went on some more visits:

An OND engineering student to check on what was happening regarding last year's results...answer, not a lot as GTTI had not yet given them to the students. The second year's course is now not due to start until January...not very satisfactory. He was very pleased to receive a letter from his sponsor... another photo.

Another bag of rice for the family of some sponsored students and more photos.

And then visits to three compounds in Jambanjelly to both take some photos of the sponsored students and to give a selection of ethical and other donated gifts to the families and their neighbours. (Uploading the photos of the gift sessions will have to wait until I get back to UK as they were all taken on a camera that cannot be accessed by the tablet on which I am writing these blog entries.)

We drove up the splendid new road from Jambanjelly to the turntable, where we had agreed to meet a Grade 11 student who has moved home. We agreed with her as to how and when her remaining sponsorship payment would be paid and gave her a little travel money to tide her over in the meantime.

A quick supermarket visit, where, among other things, we bought a pack of biscuits to remind us of Andy (!) and then back to the hotel.

Quite a full day...what will tomorrow bring?

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