Sunday, 21 October 2007

Sponsoring Lamin

We really should make a list of all the students/mothers/children we sponsor. Lamin, for instance, has been a friend and student for five or is it six years now? I first met Lamin on a pitch dark night, chatting to a group of the local boys - Sanchabo Football Club - as it turned out. I was very impressed with the intelligence of one of the lads who asked lots of questions - and still remembers my replies to this day! I realised the gulf between our respective ways of life when he asked me to describe what a computer looked like.

Since then we have sponsored him through school and college in The Gambia and now during his studies at university in Lodz, Poland. Throughout this time he has accounted for every penny and has returned money when we have "overpaid" him. Here he is at Banjul airport seeing me off before I return home from a visit to his village.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Panic packing

Three more sleeps then off to Africa. Suitcase is the problem - people are so generous. Our office cleaner turned up today with loads of lovely baby clothes, books, paper & pencils - and soft toys. Sarah offered to let her two children sponsor a Gambian child each. The kindness of strangers. I feel so moved by the generosity of these friends who take my word that there is a need and offer help to people they will prbably never meet. I suppose they could, and I take comfort in the fact that GOES is accountable. We can direct people who are thinking of a holiday in The Gambia to the children and parents they are helping.
Don't suppose that we'll hear about the Registration of the Charity as I'd forgotten that although our posties are back at work when we posted it off the Liverpool posties were still on strike. It will be another reason to sweat a bit more while I'm out there. The main reason is that the temperature out there is in the 90's. Should be a little cooler at night ...
28 tabs of Malarone for £49 from SuperDrug, and cut rate garlic tabs from Holland and Barrett should see the mozzies off. Adama still won't tell me where I'm staying except that it is very nice and I WILL like it. I think that means the room has a bed and not just a mat on the floor.
Really looking forward to seeing my friends - Ma, my adopted sister and her husband; Adama and her family, of course; friends Manneh and Modou who have been so reliable and helpful while I was with SHINE-Africa; Ras-Bai who I met running on the beach at Bakau; Awa and her children - she has asopted Joyce as her sister - so many lovely people.
Back to the packing!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Moving on ...

Greetings, again. Postal strike over so application forms posted off to the Charity Commission at Liverpool. Just noted that the strike isn't over in Liverpool. Drat and bother. Hoped to hear that we had managed to register before I trot off to The Gambia again next week but this now seems unlikely. Lots of things to organise - decide what to leave behind as T. Cook failed to grant me a few extra kgs of luggage space. The medical supplies must go, anf the books I'd promised people out there. Lucky I learned to travel light back in the cycle camping days ...
Travel clinic for the Malarone on Thursday; weigh everything twice, more things to leave behind. Adama tells me she has found a room for me, probably in Bakau, but refuses to be more descriptive. Exchange rate seems to be against the GBP at the moment, down from 52 to 38 last week. Hope to meet Ras Bai again, running on the beach. Missed him on the last trip.
Large, overflowing suitcase on spare bed. Thinks "Why not drive instead of fly? Only 3000 miles, only 1500 miles of Sahara ..." Carbon footprint glowers over my shoulder. Sounds like contortion feat/feet.

Friday, 5 October 2007


The writing group which tolerates my poetry has very kindly agreed to donate any profit from the sales of its first anthology to GOES. This is a lovely thought and very encouraging. Members have worked really hard to compile, edit, seek out publishers and printers. We have a couple of pieces of work accepted and hope that more will follow. The group are extremely supportive and constructive with ideas and comments. My barber has been interested in the charity for a while and has arranged for a publicity display and will offer the profit from a car boot sale. We've nearly completed the documentation for the Charity Commissioners to decide, we hope, to award us charitable status and we can then register for Gift Aid (which will give us an extra 28% of refunded income tax on all donations). The Postal Strike actually gives us a few days of grace to get everything ready to send off! Beautiful day - travelled by scooter to do a few hours voluntary work and call on a couple of friends who also run a charity which supports nursery schools in The Gambia.
I'll try to post a few pictures next time.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Cross more fingers

At last managed to 'phone Lamin, discover how Western Union works and send our student some cash towards his permit to stay in Poland for the duration of his studies. Fingers crossed that it works in practice! Sending money to West Africa is quicker (same day) and much cheaper. Now, just time for a quick bath, a hobble down to the chiropodist, a meal, write something for the writers' meeting tonight, post this, send a couple of emails. Time flies and so must I. Uncross fingers.