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?