Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Packing and discarding ...

Forty eight hours on and we'll be there! Simply have to survive Manchester T2 for a few hours and then Sahara here we come!
Busy packing; it easy to leave out our clothes and rely on Adama (our mother hen) to organise the laundry. That gives a few more kgs for essential educational and medical supplies!
Hi ho, hi ho it's off to The Gambia we go!

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Counting the pennies

A couple of local shops let us have collecting boxes and we've been opening them and counting pennies! The best little coffee shop in town ('Hatters', in Hatters Row) has been really kind to us for years and today added £12.33 to our funds. That amount could either provide four mosquito nets or educate a young child for six months or a teacher's wages for two weeks or buy the paint to redecorate a school or ...
As a friend said recently
"A pound GOES a long way in The Gambia!"
Yesterday we sent some money to buy medicine for the boy with the diseased leg. We've also had to pay for a copy of the doctor's report (he was seen by a doctor at Banjul hospital two days ago). Hopefully we'll be able to get things moving next week when we're out there.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Why we go! (Plus sunshine and good food and friends!)

Malarone and haircuts plus poetry.

This time next week I'll be in ....... a panic! Some lovely friends have given us heaps of things to take out and the lovely airline didn't give us extra baggage allowance (booked too late and all the extra had been allocated). So two heaps on the spare bed - things we want to take and things we simply must take. We try to ensure that we only take things which are unobtainable in The Gambia - mainly medical supplies and books. Clothes and mosquito nets are available there so we tend not to take such things. We don't want to put local tailors out of business - they have families to feed and the locally made nets are a tenth of the price you would pay here in England.
I had a haircut so I'll arrive looking fairly respectable - and my barber has been very supportive. He raised sixty pounds for us last year and today he promised a supply of garlic capsules which my friendly pharmacist reckons are great for blood pressure.
We've made our first withdrawal from the GOES bank a/c. Seems a shame to reduce the balance but that's what it's there for. Most is already earmarked - medical & school fees, building repairs and so on. I just wish that the people who donate so freely could meet the people they are helping. Of course, if any wanted to go out there we could provide the introductions - they would have a great time!
Almost reduced to tears when we heard how well the Anthology is doing. People in the Writers Group have worked so hard at every stage, from writing through publishing and now selling the book to raise funds for GOES. People really are wonderful.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

New Year mail.

Happy New Year, everyone. Among the late delivery of Christmas Cards today are two letters from friends in The Gambia. One is from Ras, a young man I met on my very first visit to Bakau. I was staying at a small hotel next to the beach and started each day with a s hort slow jog alonf the water's edge. After a couple of days Ras joined me, asking if he could run with me. We chatted (when I could find enough breath) and I visited his home. I met him again, a couple of years later, and he remarked that I was still running in the same shoes, and that the shoe-laces were still the same! He was right. Sadly, we lost touch for a few years, though I asked other locals if he was still around. Then, today, a letter!
Also in today's post, a letter from a young woman I met in October at a friend's house in another village. Up to the age of fifteen she had received an education; then she was raped. She dropped out of school, was abandoned by her family, and I understand that she became a street girl. She had another child and has now been accepted back into her mother's home. She has applied to join the army, and her mother has agreed to care for the two children. She seeks my advice.
What would you say to her?