Friday, 28 December 2012

Burning rubbish.

Smoke rises from the rubbish tip at Bakoti. It burns round the clock and the smoke and smell spread for miles. Children scavange the rubbish for items to sell - plastic bottles, re-usable bags, anything that might fetch a few dalasis. Directly across the road from the tip is the S.O.S. Children's Village - a wonderful institution which looks after the welfare of orphans in a manner which puts us in the U.K. to shame - read up about it, or, better still, visit it for yourself when you travel to The Gambia. Just remember to hold your breath if the wind's in the wrong direction ...
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At last - clean water for the clinic!

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Friday, 21 December 2012

Back in the UK

Another trip over. Good news - and, sadly, some bad news. Hope the good outweighs the bad. Very tired, not much food in the house but sleep is the major need! Tell you more when we wake up!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Stories for Gambian Children

Sorry, I was a little early with the news that this book is available free on Amazon ebooks. It's on now, for five days and the first one has gone to some discerning reader in America! Feel free to review or point out errors and I'll try to correct any mistakes. many thanks, Tom.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Where is Malinding?

A few people have asked me about the location of the village which features in my e-books - Malinding. Sorry, you can't go there because it exists only in my imagination. If you can find a map of The Gambia, or if you search for the villages of Lamin and Mandinari you'll be looking in the right area. From Lamin Taxi Centre take a car to Mandinari Village. From there ask your driver to turn right and follow the River Gambia for about 2km. You'll find the place where Malinding might be on the inlet (bolong) - but don't get out of the car because the village really isn't there!You won't meet any of the characters you may have read about in the books - they're imaginary too, I'm afraid. But please don't let this put you off visiting the Gambia and meeting the real people who live there. They'll love meeting you, and are some of the nicest people on the planet.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Good news day!

Many thanks to the staff and customers at Hatter's Cafe Shop in Warrington! We emptied the GOES collection box and counted the grand total of £36.90 ! We promise that all of this (and all of any other donations) will reach The Gambia intact - we don't use any Charity money for our expenses.
As a 'thank you' I've put one of our e-books, 'Stories for Gambian Children', on free offer on Amazon e-books.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Bit of a blow!

Just discovered that Thomas Cook has had to reduce our  Charity baggage allowance from 20kg to 10kg. Still, we want the aircraft to be able to take off! We'll be doing some weighing and de-selecting. Some of the heavy text-books wmay have to stay at home ...
Also discovered we might have a bit of a problem with our travel insurance. Can't go without that! Still, 'May you live in interesting times ...'
We'll keep you posted.
Anybody going to The Gambia without any luggage? !

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Found it!

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Ten days till this is on its way!

People have been giving us all sorts of goodies to take to The Gambia in December. This is some of it! We have three suitcases and 60kg to take (thanks again, Thomas Cook and the staff at Warrington!) People are very kind and understand the needs of people in Sub-Saharan Africa. When ever we travel out there seem to be dozens of people taking things out for their Gambian friends. We started off years ago helping ShineAfrica, another small charity supporting Nursery Education. After that first visit Africa bit! It won't let go either! About thirty trips later there is still more to do. It would be lovely to think that all the politicians in the world could soon solve the problem of poverty in the world but until that happy day thousands of people who aren't politicians will continue to help when ever we can.
Thanks again to all who have helped - you know who you are! Just viewed this - seem to have lost the picture! Sorry - probably on the bed in the middle of the muddle ...
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Friday, 23 November 2012

Can't find the spare bed!

As usual before we visit The Gambia the spare bed vanishes under the mass of things we've been given to take out with us: children's clothing, reading glasses, medical supplies, books, mobile 'phones (very few of those this year - people in UK hanging onto theirs much longer!). I'll try and post a picture - if I can find my camera. I think I left it on the spare bed ...

Monday, 12 November 2012

Looking Back.

 A collection of pictures we've taken during the past few years. If you're thinking about a holiday in The Gambia - pack and go! Take a few gifts - chalk and pencils and crayons for schools, reading glasses and crepe bandages for the clinics, dictionaries and books about football for students. A few pounds spent in Banjul market will buy mosquito nets for any one! Beware though - if you go once you'll go again (and again and again and ...) See you there?

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Thursday, 1 November 2012

Many thanks to Amieyo for this cover picture!

 This is the original of the picture which features on the front cover of 'The Mechanical Girl' , set in the imaginary village of Malinding, on the south bank of the River Gambia. The book features the adventures of a highly intelligent village girl, who by virtue of hard work comes to be of great value to her community in spite of many difficulties. Thanks again, Amieyo!
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Thank you, Amieyo

'The Mechanical Girl', out on Kindle, now has a new front cover. We're delighted to welcome Amieyo from Bakau to our long list of friends and helpers. I explained to her the character of Fatou, the mechanical girl, and Amieyo came up with exactly the right picture of a bright village girl with an enquiring mind and a determination to help people. As soon as I've found out how to add text to the title page of the book I'll give her credt there, but I hope this will act as a thank you message!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Sorry - we don't supply sheep!

It's that time of year again and the requests for sheep are rolling in. Sorry - we can't help. We can't even afford one sheep, and this year we've had nearly twenty requests! We're Gambian Occasional EMERGENCY support: we help with education and health concerns. If a family we know is in desperate need of support we can sometimes help with a gift of rice. We have recently helped a village by providing a clean water tap for the clinic. We can sometimes help with repairs to a house. That's the sort of thing we do. Please, friends, don't ask for a sheep - we can't do it, especially a very short notice!
Best wishes to all of you - long life, good health and happiness

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Who was the 3000th viewer?

We should celebrate - Gambia GOES has just reached a total of 3000 views!
1097 from the USA (I know some of you, welcome and thanks to the others!)
733 from the UK - can't be the family?
194 from the Netherlands - greetings, new friends!
130 from Russia - welcome, please keep watching.
127 from France - hello, neighbours.
118 from Germany - hello, friends and family.
52 from The Gambia - I wish there were more of you. Please keep in touch.
39 from Poland - I think some of you may be Gambians living abroad?
35 of you from Latvia and 31 0f you from Japan - I hope you will travel to West Africa one day - perhaps you have already been there?

This list only adds up to about 2550 so there must be more of you from other places. Please remember, you can add your own comments to the blog. Those of you who have our home 'phone number do remember our house 'phone does not tell us your number if you are 'phoning from outside the UK, only that we have missed your call. Please, if the answer machine plays the message that we are out do wait till after the 'bleep' and leave your name & number, slowly and clearly, then we will be able to call you back.

To all of you, thank you for your interest. We are a micro-charity with very limited resources. We cannot buy you a sheep for Tobaski but we may be able to help with some school fees or medical expenses.
Best wishes,
Tom and Joyce (Amadou & Isatou)

Monday, 8 October 2012

She's done it!

Congratulations to Joyce. She completed a 40k Cycletta charity cycle ride yesterday in 2hours and 41 minutes. (Only 59 minutes slower than Victoria Pendleton!) She has raised at least £100 for GOES and an equal amount for Gladstone's Library (where the 4 Malinding books were written to raise money for GOES.)
Joyce had a slight accident after she finished the ride. She swerved to avoid a car and fell off her bike onto gravel. She bumped her head and grazed her knees but was back on her feet a few minutes later. You can't keep a good fund raiser down!
We're all very proud of her.
Thanks to all the people who have promised donations - we promise we will find Gambian schools and clinics that really need your help.

Friday, 5 October 2012

40k, 40k, 40k onwards!

In two days' time Joyce will mount her trusty steed and pedal off on a Cycletta Charity ride to raise funds for Gladstone's Library and GOES. She's in training, getting lots of rest and practising not getting lost. While she's enjoying herself pottering along leafy Cheshire lanes and chatting to fellow riders, I'll be sitting in the cafe at Tatton Park chewing my fingers with anxiety and eating comfort food (cake, in case you hadn't guessed). Wish us luck! I'll let you know how the day went in a couple of days ...

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Odds & Ends

Bit of a mixed week; work progresses on the next book, the fourth in the 'Malinding Village' series. This has the working title of 'The Alkalo' (The Chief) and is the story of Sirra and Ed's life together.
We've finally signed off Jenny's form for her Duke Of Edinburgh's Gold Award - she's managed the setting up of our web site and completed the application forms for GOES charitable status. Fingers crossed (don't need to - she's worked very hard for us, bless her!)
Bob and Lynn have offered us a large suitcase to pack the extra baggage Thomas Cook have allowed us - T.C. have been very kind to us over the years.
Don't know how much longer we can keep GOES going - a few more years, we hope. We just don't seem to be getting any younger; strange, we work hard enough at it!
House is a bit upside down, due to repairs to the kitchen. Thanks to family who have fed us during this time!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Stories for Gambian Children

From 3/9/12 for five days the ebook 'Stories for Gambian Children' is on free release from Amazon Kindle books. I was shocked a few years ago to hear that traditional storytelling was dying out in some areas of West Africa so I thought I'd add a few ideas of my own. They seem to work across national boundries - after all, a story is a story is a story! So, here you are - a pre-Xmas gift from GOES!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Paralympics 2012

GOES sends greetings to Benba Janu and Ida N'yang, the first Gambians to represent their country at the Paralympics. We hope they enjoy the experience and find themselves among friends.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Some days are better than others!

As I said - some days are better than others! Writing the fourth book in the 'Malinding Village' series the other day I managed to add two and a half thousand words to the story. This volume has the working title of 'The Alkalo' and is based on the events which bring a woman to be elected chief of her village. Drove home feeling very cheerful, decided to put 'Empty Bananas' on free distribution again (two or three days left if you haven't read this first book of the series) and went to bed happy. Next morning the door fell off the garage where we keep the bikes! Nobody hurt = good. New door needed = expensive = bad! We've been a bit worried about finance for the Charity and this was a blow. Postman arrives, bringing a donation of £50 for GOES! Back to being cheerful again. Many thanks to our benefactor - you know who you are!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

'Mechanical Girl' free!

Just to let you all know that another book in the 'Malinding Village' series is available on Amazon (ebooks) on promotional free offer for five days (ending 15/08/12). Please feel free to download - if you enjoy this book you might like to buy the others in the series ('Empty Bananas' and 'Mussukunda') All proceeds go to GOES and from there to help needy people in The Gambia.
Many thanks and Happy Reading!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Slowly, slowly ...

Progress is positive but a little slow - but it's still progress! A few more books sold, a few donations - but each and every one means more help can go to where it's most needed. 

We were happy to watch the progress of Saruba Colley, the Gambian athlete who ran in the 100m qualifying race. She ran her hardest but sadly wasn't placed for the final. Her family and friends can be very proud of her.

We're planning a visit to The Gambia later in the year. It will be good to visit friends, schools and clinics to see what progress is being made.

best wishes & fingers crossed for Gambian success in the Olympics and Paralympics!

Friday, 27 July 2012

2012 Olympics

Welcome to the Gambian Olympic Team - Suwaibou Sanneh and Saruba Colley, both 100m runners. I'm sure they will compete hard and wish them both success. Hope they enjoy their visit to London and that they make many friends and have happy memories to take home with them - and maybe a medal or two?

We send the same message to wheelchair athletes Demba Janu and Ida Nyang who will be competing in the Paralympics. 

We will be watching your progress with great interest and hope - well done to all of you for making it this far!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Free Book!

The second book in the Malinding series, 'Mussukunda' is available, free, on Kindle ebooks for five days from 26/7/2012

I'd be happier if you bought it but it's your choice! All profits go to GOES ...

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Home again and back to work!

We're home from our first holiday for years - practically on doctor's orders! Running GOES and trying to raise funds by writing is turning into a full time career - just when other people are settling into easy chairs and listening to Radio 4. We were put to shame though by another member of our holiday tour group; a gentleman of 95 years of age who certainly isn't settling down to pipes and slippers just yet! There were other people who, having overcome serious medical conditions, were getting on with an active and interesting life, and  who provided true inspiration. GOES followed us about on holiday - one of our young Gambian friends was reported to be ill and we were able to send a donation to cover his care costs. 

We use a money transfer system called BAYBA which is very quick and reliable. Money is deposited with them via any branch of Barclay's Bank (there was one two doors away from the hotel we stayed at in Bergerac.) A 'phone call is then made to BAYBA in England to arrange a transfer to a selected location in The Gambia, and a code number is given. We then send the recipient a text message containing the code and the money is available, sometimes even on the same day. We're waiting for a message to tell us how our young friend is.

Our friend in the local coffee shop greeted us today with a bag full of beautifully made baby hats - we'll just have to go and give them to deserving babies! 

In the meantime I'm working on the fourth book in the Malinding ebook series. Long coach journeys are a good place to work out a plot!

Best wishes to all of you; please consider The Gambia for your next holiday and please, please buy the books! All proceeds go straight into GOES for immediate use in Gambian schools, clinics and homes.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Back in Business!

It's been rather quiet on the GOES front recently, largely due to a shortage of funds. Being a very small charity means we don't keep a large balance in the bank! We receive money, somebody needs it.

Recently our friends in the Vale Royal Writers' Group, together with members of Liverpool's Dead Good Poets, staged a Summer Wordfest at the Blue Cap pub in Sandiway. Some excellent poets and storytellers performed and the 'profits' from a raffle and sale of books, together with some very generous donations made GOES' bank balance very much healthier - for two days! By then the money was in The Gambia providing medical care for a very sick young man and providing mosquito nets to protect families from malaria (which kills far too many people in sub-Saharan Africa).

So, we're out of funds again! Hope our e-books ('Empty Bananas@, 'Mussukunda' & 'The Mechanical Girl') sell well!

Best wishes to all, and an especial 'thank you' to VWRG and Dead Good Poets!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Taps and books?

Well (sorry!) yes: The Malinding series of books* are selling well (sorry again ..) so we've been able to send off the money to move the water supply from a tap on the outside wall to the inside of the clinic at Mandinari. We haven't had the cash to visit The Gambia ourselves yet this year but there are a number of villagers we trust to oversee the work and we have sent the money for this work to a couple of them. We're also waiting for a report on the fund raising we're sharing with the villagers with a view to buying a maize milling machine for use by the village women. Pounding the maize in large mortars and pestles is a traditional African task, but it's very hard work and very time consuming so a powered mill would be a great advantage - and raise money from the surrounding villages. I so miss being out there with our friends, but the important thing is that progress is being made. (Still want to be there!

*Please help by buying one or more of them - see previous post!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Books for Sale!

The three books about life in The Gambia are selling well - from the U.S.A. through Europe to Spain! I wrote them to raise funds for Gambia GOES, our charity, and the hard work seems to be paying off. They books are set in an imaginary village on the South bank of the river Gambia called Malinding. The inhabitants of the village are also imaginary, though I have borrowed genuine Gambian names for them. The characters live only on the pages. I'm offering the first book, 'Empty Bananas' on Amazon ebooks, free for five days, in the hope that this will tempt people to buy the rest of the books in the Malinding series - 'Mussukunda' and 'The Mechanical Girl'.
I'm having a short rest before I start on the next book, which will be called 'The Alkalo' - Sirra, who appears in the first book and marries Ed, becomes am important member of the village community ...

Sunday, 3 June 2012


I've been moaning and groaning about a decline in the level of donations but there is good news: the tap has been installed at Mandinari Clinic and is supplying pure water for use there. I gather that at the moment it's installed on an outside wall but we'll send the funds for it to be extended to a sink inside the clinic next week. It would be nice to wave a wand and have things done very quickly - as a Westerner I was becoming a little impatient; we had taken the money to the clinic in December when we visited. But, six months wait is better than not having the job done at all! Thank you folks; in the UK for providing the funds and those of you in The Gambia who undertook the work. Team effort = good result!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Hard times and tight money

The international shortage of money hits us all. GOES has suffered a severe loss of income and we're trying hard to avoid hurting the people who need help. So far we've managed to salvage most of the loss by send the money to a number of Gambian friends who act as our agents; the economy comes from us not going out there ourselves. We normally pay all our own travel expenses out of our own pockets. This time we added that money to the charity and sent it out in our place! We're saving (!) hard so that we can go out in the Autumn - we would love to see water coming out the the tap in the clinic or sit in the Bantabar and tell stories to the children - but it's not about us.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Gladstone's Library

Gladstone's Library (1809 - 1898) features in quite a large part of my life. It was given by William Ewart Gladstone to the nation, shortly before his death in1894. His wish was to 'bring together readers who had no books and books who had no readers'. To this end he bought land near his home in the village of Hawarden, in Flint. He provided a corrugated iron building to house his personal collection of 32,000 books - and it is said that he transported then, in a wheelbarrow, from his home to the new library assisted by one of his staff and one of his daughters. The project cost him £40,000 (about £3million in today's money). The corrugated building was replaced by an elegant sandstone edifice in 1902, funded by public subscription of £9,000 and in 1906 a residential wing was added, which the Gladstone family paid for. 
It is the only residential  Prime Ministerial  library in the country. Dinner, bed and breakfast is available at very reasonable cost. The dining room, 'Food for Thought' provides excellent meals, using as far as possible local produce. Many of the local people dine there - you're not forced to read a book if you don't want to! You can register as a day reader, without charge, and use the library (which now houses quarter of a million books0 free of charge. 
 The library relies on donations from the public. It costs about £1000 a day to run. There are about 20 staff, and the heating bill must be enormous. It's also a Grade One Listed building, so repairs and updating are expensive. 
 It is a priviledge and a delight to work there. A large part of my three books* has been composed at one of the desks in the upstairs gallery of the library building. WiFi is available freely but I avoid using it  - I'm there to work not doodle about on Facebook ... 
 I must admit to the distraction of trying to work when surrounded by books. Perhaps that old volume on the shelf there - the small book in the leather binding - perhaps it's last reader was the grand old man himself? 
 Maybe I'll see you there one day?

* Available on Kindle: 'Empty Bananas', 'Mussukunda' and, very shortly, 'The Mechanical Girl' - about life in The Gambia and how Europeans can either exploit or benefit the Third World. 
All monies from the sale of these books is passed to the charity Gambian Occasional Emergency Support - G.O.E.S.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Newsletter 2012/2

What happens when we're back in England?
Well, first of all we stop to get our breath back! There's a house to look after, friends and relations to be visited, books to be written and work started to provide things needed for our next trip. We're supposed to be a couple of retired old-age pensioners but we've never been so busy in our lives. The aches and pains of old age slow us down a bit but GOES keeps us on our toes. We're often asked 'What do you get out of it?' Well, apart from the joy of being able to help people the main benefit to us is that GOES brings us into contact with all manner of good people. Look at a newspaper or watch the TV news and you might think that the world is peopled with evil, narrow minded folk who only rejoice in the misfortunes of others.
We know that the world is not like that. We meet a constant stream of people who are good, tolerant and kind. From the couple who emptied their wallets for us at the airport on our way home last time to the people who have supported us, with funding or goods, ever since we started GOES, we can say that most people are good. Yes, of course there area few rogues - but they are in a tiny minority, both north and south of the Sahara!
A very special ‘thank you’ to all the good people at ‘SNIPS’! - the collection box by the till has, over the years, sent children to school,  managed hospital treatment for young and old, provided mosquito nets, helped to supply clean water to Mandinari  village clinic— well done, and thank you again!

Newsletter 2012

How we raise money.
Collection boxes! These provide an important, steady income.
Sponsored events—Joyce raised over £200 last year by completing a 40km cycle ride. Hopes to repeat in 2012!
Sale of poetry and prose anthologies by Vale Royal Writers Group.  VRWG has loyally supported GOES since its inception.
Tom has written three books—travel romances—based on the typical but imaginary village of Malinding.  The books, Empty Bananas, Mussukunda and Stories for Gambian Children, are available on Amazon’s Kindle eBook site. Hopefully another book about Fatou Manneh, a village girl, will be added later in the year. All proceeds go direct to The Gambia without deduction for any sort of ‘expenses’.
Regular donations from family and friends, some by standing orders from the donor’s bank accounts. Visiting our web site  -
www.  -gives access to the information needed to contribute this way.  Our blog -  - is updated regularly.

Read on!

Thursday, 5 April 2012


GOES aims to ease problems caused by poverty and ill-health. We believe in equality of access to education and health care. We help with grants towards the costs of school and college, medical treatment and provision of clean water supplies. We have provided mosquito nets, house repairs and grants towards setting up small businesses.
Helping people in The Gambia can be very rewarding. It's good to see a youngster, especially a girl, progressing through school and college towards a career which will help her, her family and local society.
We pay grants directly to the person, school or clinic. Any donation made to GOES does indeed go directly to where it is needed - we deduct nothing by way of 'expenses' or 'charges' or 'running costs' of any sort. If you give a pound or a penny it goes to a Gambian in need. We pay all the expenses of the charity, and when we visit the country we pay all our own expenses. 
We are in our seventies and running a charity is a full-time, exhausting, wonderful occupation! We're slowing down and we haven't changed the world. We haven't ended poverty or disease or discrimination, but, with your help, we've made a few steps on the way.
Thanks, from Joyce & Tom.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Success! Well done, Amieo!

I was delighted to receive a copy of a Diploma (with credit) certificate from a bright young lady we've been helping during the course of the last few years. We are so pleased to have been able to help (with considerable input from our friend Joan) in the education of this hard-working girl. She also seems to be on the brink of an exciting modelling career. Any firm which employs her will know they have a dedicated, talented and educated person on their staff. Go, girl, go!
(And thanks again, Joan!)

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Coffee & Clay!

We stopped for a coffee at a small, friendly cafe in Stockton Heath. We often stop for a rest while we're out cycling! The charming couple who run the place had time for a chat and we talked about bikes and tents and caravans and children for a while. Then, as our conversations tend to do, we talked about The Gambia. We were offered a bag of children's clothes which had been on its way to a charity shop. We'll have to have a trip to The Gambia now! People are so very kind. You may be wondering about the title to this post - as well as selling a very good cup of coffee this place offers an unusual gift service - bring your baby and you can have a cast made of his or her hands and feet! The clay is fired and glazed and you have a very tangible reminder of how small your child was before she/he grew to full size!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Back to The Gambia?

Been away too long - but how to stretch the money for the fare? Every penny GOES receives in donations goes to help people in The Gambia - nothing is deducted for 'expenses'. We're having a furious counting of personal money to try to raise enough for at least one of us to travel. We would like to see the tap installed in the clinic, the open-air classroom in the school completed. We're searching the internet and local travel agents for the cheapest deal. Thomas Cook have been very helpful in the past ...
There is always this dilemma: - which is better for The Gambia - us going there to see first hand exactly what needs doing or sending the money we would have spent on travel to a clinic or school? Maybe the British government will double my pension! Ah, well. Back to Google!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Looking back?

Hindsight can be quite comforting!
Been feeling a bit down in the dumps recently. Cash hasn't been flowing in and requests for help are increasing. Saying 'no' is horribly hard to do and at times I must admit I've been thinking that perhaps the best thing to do is to close the charity down. Goodbye to GOES? Then I think back to when we started work in The Gambia. One of the first things we did was to provide a boy, a young student, with a bicycle so he could travel more easily to college. His journey prior to this had been long and difficult. The bike in question was not some hi-tech creation, in fact it reminded me of the bike I had fifty years before and on which I rode to school. So, the boy got his bike. He worked hard at school and progressed well. So well that he was accepted by a university in Euirope; the bike was passed onto another student. I'll bet that bike is still, to this day, in good hands and providing much needed transport to some deserving person. Thanks to GOES all sorts of good things are happening. We work in very small ways - we are, after all, a micro-charity! We know the people we help (and those same people help us, with a meal, a glass of Atayah, a bed for the night). A child has school fees paid. Years later that same child proudly shows us their college diploma. We help a youngster who needs medical attention - and the next time we visit that village the same youngster runs up to greet us with a smile. We pass on a pair of reading glasses, and later the recipient is noticed with her head down in a book, absorbed in the world of words. Tiny occurancies, small parts of the tapestry of life, but so important to those individuals. Your good deeds roll on, just like the bicycle we started off this post with. How can we not go on with GOES, at least for a little while longer?
Thanks to all our helpers, past, present - and future.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Good times coming?

Well, we hope so. I've struggled with the technology and managed to put a short book of short stories - 'Stories for Gambian Children' - on Kindle. It's priced at 77p because I couldn't find a way to put the price lower! Who knows, it may lead to great things! Anyway, any profit goes to GOES. When the final final on the three novels about life in The Gambia has been completed I'll try their luck on Kindle too. Let me say now that none of the characters in any of the books is based on any real person - they are purely fiction!
Meanwhile we're waiting to hear about progress on the installation of a water supply at the clinic in Mandinari, and also that work on the bantaba in the compound of the nursery school is finished (it was only a matter of tiling the floor).
We're looking for a cheap flight to Banjul before the rainy season starts.  Can't wait to get back there and meet old friends and new. Best wishes to all,

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Procrastination ...

Being bone-idle by nature is a real blessing! I've had a nice lazy day, doing a bit of this and a bit of that ... Spending time looking out of the window at the clouds racing past, reading the papers, listening to some poetry on the radio. If Radio 4 didn't exist somebody would have to invent it. Sending messages on Facebook, a couple of chats on Skype. Must remember to call my daughter. My print-out of the latest book lies on my desk, daring me to start editing it. Tomorrow. No, not tomorrow. Have to go into town tomorrow. Tuesday? No. Something on on Tuesday. Can't remember what. Wednesday. Definitely Wednesday. I'll go to the library and work all day on Wednesday. My turn to cook. Fish? What's in the fridge? Fish, Sea-bass. What goes with Sea-bass? Onions? Potato? Herbs? Right: no problem. I'll just finish writing this then I'll put my feet up and rest for a few minutes then I'll go and cook. Back to GOES later in the week.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Mrs Dibba's school

This is a lovely new school in The Gambia. I had the good fortune to visit it and was delighted by the friendly welcome I received. It's a joy to meet such such friendly and polite children. Schools like this are of such a high standard that any English village would be lucky to have one!
Of course there's a snag - such schools have to depend on voluntary contributions to survive. If you are interested in helping, Mrs Dibba can let you know exactly what is required. Teachers have to be paid, uniforms and school meals provided, the school supplied and kept in good condition. This school has water laid on already but you may spot the odd length of cable dangling - power is not yet available - just a problem of finding the money ...
The staff are well trained and enthusiastic. There's a lovely, caring atmosphere in the school - I'd love my own daughter to have been given a start to her education there - pity she's a bit too old!
The sad thing is that only a small fraction of Gambian children are able to attend such a fine school - or any school, for that matter.
If you have the chance do go and see for yourselves. (The children will sing their welcome for you!)

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Thursday, 12 January 2012

What happens when we're back in England?
Well, first of all we stop to get our breath back! There's a house to look after, friends and relations to be visited, books to be written and work started to provide things needed for our next trip. We're supposed to be a couple of retired old-age pensioners but we've never been so busy in our lives. The aches and pains of old age slow us down a bit but GOES keeps us on our toes. We're often asked 'What do you get out of it?'
It's a fair question - why do we do it?
Well, apart from the joy of being able to help people the main benefit to us is that GOES brings us into contact with all manner of good people. Look at a newspaper or watch the TV news and you might think that the world is peopled with evil, narrow minded folk who only rejoice in the misfortunes of others.
We know that the world is not like that. We meet a constant stream of people who are good, tolerant and kind.
From the couple who emptied their wallets for us at the airport on our way home last time to the people who have supported us, with funding or goods, ever since we started GOES, we can say that people are good.
Yes, of course there are rogues - but they are in a tiny minority, both north and south of the Sahara.
Thank you to all our friends, here and there.