Saturday, 12 September 2020

 Good news!

GOES has provided 500 pairs of protective gloves for use in the village clinic at Mandinari. Many thanks to our local agent, K, for his help in this matter. We continue to help 'small small' - better than nothing!

Monday, 31 August 2020

 GambiaGOES plods on

Slowly. Our ages total 165years and some days it shows! The pandemic has slowed things down, a lot. We continue to support a small school in a village, and an excellent clinic in Mandinari. We also offer help occaisionally to families, usually for education and health issues. This is really how we started out, all tjose years ago. The big difference is that then we were able to travel out two or three times a year, stay for up to three weeks, and lodge in one of the villages and join in village life. We have no regrets - true, there was always more to be done, more oeople to be helped. We didn't, sadly, have a magic wand.

Nowadays, age is against up, as are the fees demanded by the travel insurance companies, some of which now refuse cover at any price. So, in a way, that's a benefit. For the last two years we have directed the money we would have spent on fares, hotels, and insurance into GOES. Because we cannot travel we no longer seek contributions from outside our family because we can no longer say 'Your money was given to Mrs X for her operation, or to the infant school at Y for a new roof' because we didn't actually see the money handed over. 

If there is any risk it must be our risk, not yours.

Best wishes to all who have helped us, both here and there!

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Was Bayba, is Small World FS, Still open!

GOES has used Bayba (now Small World FS) for twenty year to send support to schools, hospitals, and village clinics in the Gambia. We have been delighted with the speed such transactions can be made, and never once has a payment gone astray. We are happy to read the assurance that this will continue in spite of the present difficulties. This is an extract from a letter from their CEO;

In light of the uncertainty we all face in our daily lives with the outbreak of COVID 19 (Corona Virus) I want to reassure our customers that Small World remains focused on ensuring that they can continue to send money to their family, friends and loved ones.

As a husband and father to 3 children, I know how important it is to provide safety and support to those close to us during these times and we are working hard here at Small World to ensure the health and safety of our employees, communities and their families.

Despite these uncertain times, Small World continues to remain open for business - as a technology led business our teams can work remotely with ease. and our App are available for your use 24/7 worldwide, and globally we have a quarter of a million locations open across 196 countries, bringing together an extensive network of offices, agents, branches and payment points - although I do encourage you to check for any service updates as some locations may have restricted opening times or temporary closures if they are located close to outbreaks of COVID-19. We are working closely with our partners around the world to minimise the impact of any disruptions on our customers

Thursday, 13 February 2020

On the road with GOES

On the road with GOES ...

Where does your money go with GOES? Fair question. Let's imagine we're going to find out as we travel to some of the villages together.
We're staying at a small hotel on the Atlantic coast near Kotu village. Turn left out of the hotel and a ten minute walk takes you to the centre of the village. There are a few shops, a market, several hotels and that's it! Back to the hotel, keep going to the crossroads and we'll pick a taxi to Bakau, the next village along the coast. It's a good 20 minute jog but it's a hot day ... Bakau is a much larger fishing village with a fish market, a craft market, several hotels, large shops and banks and a crocodile pool! We've helped one of the large families here with housing, education, and health care. We might as well drop in for a brew of attaya (green tea). The children are anxious to show us their school reports and parents smile proudly ... while we're nearby we'll pop along to the Capital city, Banjul, and visit the hospital. We need to drop off supplies you've donated - medicines, bandages, catheters  and a ream of computer paper.
Where next? Another taxi ride to see one of the schools we help in a suburb of Serrekunda. We drive across Denton Bridge which carries us across Oyster Creek, a wonderful place for bird watching, and eventually turn off the blacktop road onto a series of sand tracks which lead us to Bundung, where the school is. Here we have contributed to the running costs, bought paint, supplied school gates - numerous items which you've contributed to. The children greet us and sing! We tell a story but refrain from song!
 Back in the taxi - one of the yellow Mercedes which transport everything from people to goats and chickens and sheets of corrugated iron and ... everything that requires transporting, and mostly at the same time! Off again, back on the main road, past Abuko nature reserve on the right - must find time to visit one day - and Lamin Lodge Hotel on the left, on the bank of the mighty River Gambia, through Lamin village and turn left by the Taxi Centre on the road to Mandinari. We pass the Lower Basic School which has received a couple of dozen dictionaries given by you and carried free by Thomas Cook, plus a locally purchased sack of rice which the head teacher cooks so the children start the day with happy tummies - and stop outside the village clinic. We've had a long and happy relationship with this place. You'll remember helping to provide a clean water supply? See, there's the tap! This time we're bringing supplies for the medicine cupboard - stacks of paracetamol (for treatment of malaria) and rolls of bandages and a blood-pressure monitor.
 We also pay a quick visit to the nursery school next to the clinic and check that funds we donated last trip have been put to good use. More attaya, then a quick round of visits to friends GOES has helped over the years - school fees paid for children and adults (mainly women who missed out on formal education, house repairs funded - if cement is added to the home-made building blocks it can resist water damage for a much longer time.  So many people here want us to stay and chat and drink attaya and share a meal that we promise to return in a couple of days and stay longer.
 Time to head back to the hotel in Kotu. Our driver, a long-time friend, mentions that his wife is preparing the evening meal and perhaps ... and the children would like to read to us? Of course - you don't mind, do you? You'll be welcome!
 It's much later when we return to the hotel and sit by the pool watching the bats chasing mosquitoes across the night sky. Hope you enjoyed the journey? What's that? Mandinari seems very like Malinding in the story books? I couldn't possibly comment!

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

We've come a long way!

How it started - the first post.

"GambiaGOES" is the diary of a couple of oldies trying to set up a charity (Gambian Occasional Emergency Support) and struggling with the unfamiliar work of blogging, registering as a Charity, setting up a special bank account, raising funds, getting publicity, staying sane, fixing the printer, editing the newsletter ... resisting the temptation to pack it all in and buy that new car. Then we think of the pure joy on Lamin's face when he was accepted by the University, or of Ebou's relief when he received the cash to enable him to repair his mum's house before the rainy season, or - so many people who need occasional help.

'How will people know what you're doing if you don't tell them?' Good question. I'm rather shy about anything that says 'Look at me!' or in any way looks like boasting. I believe that the vast percentage of people are busy being kind to anyone who crosses their path and in doing so are probably doing ten times more than I can do. That was true at 09.39 hrs on the morning of the 29th of August 2007, when the first page of the blog took to the air, and it's still true today. Still the same car, still the same reluctance to go into details about what we do. I can justify this latter thought;what we do is very personal not only to us but also to the people we help. These people are very often stressed out by their worries about how to make ends meet, how to balance putting food on the table with paying medical bills or school fees for their children. I'm not going to make capital by identifying them and their problems. 

Saturday, 30 November 2019

November 2019 update

Well, there's a dull title.
First, GOES: still marching on. Slowly - what do you expect - we have a joint age 164 now! We haven't been travelling a great deal due to a problem finding affordable travel insurance, but we have a reliable team in the villages who keep an eye on what needs doing and making sure it gets done properly!
A school has been re-roofed, homemakers have been supplied with bags of cement to weather-proof their walls. School fees and teachers’ wages have been paid. GOES has covered medical expenses for several elderly people and children – and covered the wedding expenses of a couple of friends.
Funding has been sufficient; several friends have made regular contributions, Gift Aid has refunded income  directly to the GS bank account, and we have tithed our income to the charity.
The Malinding Village books bring in a small (tiny?) regular income. The two ‘dark novels’, Chasing Freedom Home, and Story’s End told the story of a dystopian society so for the present work in progress I’ve chosen a more gentle word, populated by good-natured ghosts. I’ll publish a few first-draft pages later.

Here it is - provisional title is Ghost, writing?

I'm on a boat. This friend, Karen, lent m e her boat.
'Call me Nameless' she said. 'It's a basic boat' she said. 'Simple, like me. The less there is means there's less to go wrong. It's a boat. A hull, a cabin roof, furniture from Ikea, and an engine. It's a proper boat engine, strong as a horse, never goes wrong – there's fourteen million of them in boats all over the world – perfect piece of design. Can't go wrong. Send me a postcard from Runcorn. Don't worry, the boat knows the way. Bon voyage.'
What's a postcard, I feel you asking. How should I know? There's something I do know. The perfect engine, as used in zillions of boats all over the world, won't start. Sorry, that's wrong too; it won't start again. It started yesterday. Perfectly. So quiet you couldn't hear it running. You can't hear it not running either. Silence all round. Just like that library my dad bangs on about all the time. You’d think silence would breed silence, wouldn't you?
Swans breed swans. Cygnets. Swans in the future tense. Somebody said my dad disliked swans. They attacked a canoe he was paddling across Hickling Broad, forty years ago. I was about minus fifteen at the time, waiting to be an egg or a cell or a seed. Perm any two of three and you might get me. What's a Hickling anyway?
Anyway, here I am. You might want to know where 'here' is. I'll tell you this for free, you're not half as curious as I am. Let's look around; what can I see? I can see water. The water is about thirty miles long and forty feet wide, and three feet deep. I'm glad we're using Imperial again, that metric stuff was fine for people who like counting on their fingers and toes; there's no variety in it. There are trees, assorted shapes and sizes. One tried to get into the boat yesterday; big ugly thing, branches everywhere, loaded with gazillions of imitation furry caterpillars. I hope they’re imitations. I'm not Thomas a Kempis, what do I know? I know Nameless omitted to tell me about invading trees. Or ignition keys; the sort of ignition keys that get stuck in the lock and won't start the engine because really it's the key to Nameless's house's front door. It's the master key, switches all the computers and the washing machine and the swimming pool filter and, oh, and everything that needs switching in her life. Just not the boat; perhaps because it's broken in half and I don't know where the other half is.
I do know that we’re drifting along the canal. I do know that we’re heading for a bridge hole and I can see that we’re going to miss the hole and hit the bridge. The bridge should be all right, it’s been there for two hundred years. I’m worried about the boat because I’m on it. It’s fragile and I’m even fragiler. Look, don’t worry, I survive. I live to think these thoughts, don’t I?