Saturday, 27 April 2013

What's GOES been doing lately?

We seem to have been busy! I may have mentioned the writing business once or twice? That is going quite well, and the Malinding series of books have found their way into all parts of the UK, the USA and odd places in Europe - there's even one somewhere in Japan!
The next two books are underway; one is the story of Ed's eldest son, now living in England and married to an English girl - first baby expected soon! The other book is an anthology of my poetry; it's time it was all in one place (the waste paper basket, do I hear you cry?) so I'm compiling an anthology just so I know where everything is.
On the money front we must really go ahead with the Gift Aid claim from HMRC - 25% tax back on all authorised donations. Comes in very handy - every penny goes to Gambians in need.
We've made donations to a couple of people we know to help with starting small businesses - market stalls, small-holdings, that sort of thing. We've provided a young woman with the means to buy a decent wheel-chair and given a grant to another to help re-roof her house before the rains start.
We've helped a village clinic re-stock its medicine cupboard and provided a new wheel for a gardener's wheelbarrow. We've contributed to school and examination fees and to funeral expenses as well.
We've managed to do this with the aid of people we know and trust - thanks to all who have helped (you know who you are!)
Time for a cup of tea (wish I could brew Ataya - one of the many things I miss when I'm here and not there!) and back to work. Thanks for your time.
Did I mention 'The Alkalo' of Malinding is on free offer - Amazon Kindle e-books?

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Latest Malinding book on sale!

At last, 'The Alkalo' is on sale. Had a terrible job loading her onto Kindle - first attempt included every single alteration, update, edit, spell check and dozens of blank 'ghost' pages. version 2 seems OK, but let me know if you find any errors! She's on sale at $1 to start with but I'll let you know when she goes on free offer for a few days.
Happy reading!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

The best laid plans can go wrong!

Today was the day I hoped to add 'The Alkalo' to the list of ebooks based on the imaginary Gambian village of Malinding. Just one more read through, I promised her, then you're on line to find your way in the world. Just one more read through: I noticed a number of 'ghost' blank pages. Impossible to delete, the cursor wouldn't click onto them - there were more by the minute.
Close 'Word', remove usb stick, shut down the computer - and try again. Worse this time - 'Word' crashed every time I scrolled about half way through the document.
Lots of searching on-line for a solution. Managed to get rid of the ghost pages (View - on-line layout - scroll document) Ghost page vanished but Word still crashed. Drat, bother and trudget! Will I have to re-type 80k words?
Just one of those days, I guess. Better luck tomorrow?

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

A day in the life of ...

People who haven't retired yet sometimes wonder what we find to do all day, imagining a life of quiet calm punctuated by long walks, log fires and cake. If only! Today has been spent on the 'phone, trying to sort out payments to people in The Gambia. Usually it works perfectly. A request for assistance arrives - we consider it. Do we know this person, have they been honest with us in the past, is it likely this clinic needs re-stocking, is this what that school really needs? And, of course, have we got the funds to cover the request? On Monday we managed to respond to three requests; wages for one, rice for another and help with building materials for a third. We use BAYBA as a money-transfer office, very simple, very quick, usually no longer than 24 hours to complete a transfer and same day transfers not unusual.
So it was for two of our clients. Money collected by Tuesday, just as expected. The third customer arrived at the BAYBA office in Serrekunda (very large, busy, market town - well worth a visit!) to find her application refused. Very distressed she sent me a text today to explain.the problem. I called the London office - yes, the money should be in Serrekunda. We re-checked the code number people have to give when collecting their funds; yes, that was correct. Text to client, who tried again - failed again. More calls and texts. Sometimes calls to the Gambia are clearer than calls to London. Sadly, today was not one of the clear days. Three hours of calls, texts, weeping, code numbers and, finally success. Happy client and we could breath freely again. Human error. No international fraud, just a mis-read code number. People in the BAYBA offices both here and in The Gambia have been most helpful, patient not only with a slightly deaf old man at this end but a tearful and distressed lady in the African town. Until the beginning of the year we had an excellent representative based in The Gambia who sorted these things out for us but, sadly, he has left the country.
Oh, and we've lost J's diary ... just one of those days!
If I ever find out how to post photographs from my 'phone to the blog I could illustrate this sad tale with pictures of us tearing out hair out and looking anxious ... just as well not, then!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Questions, and a few answers ...

We were fortunate enough to be able to retire about twenty years ago, from what seemed at that time to be busy working lives.
'That's it' we said, 'a bit of peace and quiet, a bit of travel, time to read the paper and do the odd crossword.' We did that for a week, then J decided to go and study for a degree. Three degrees (sounds like a Pop group) later she's still an avid student.
I was far too idle to go back to being a student so I became involved with 'voluntary' work. At first I helped out a bit locally, then, after a trip to The Gambia, my world changed. So, here I am, at three score years and seventeen, working eight-hour days for no pay and having a great, if exhausting, life. No sign of retiring yet ...
People have asked
'How can we be sure that any money we give goes to the people who really need it?' Well, if possible, travel to see what local conditions are like, get to know people, keep a check on progress (of the student, the patient, the school - whatever cause you gave the money/assistance to.
There's an old saying - fool me once, your fault. Fool me twice, my fault.
Give small at first, increase amounts later (if you can), ask for receipts, photographs, any evidence you can gather.
If you're approached by someone you don't know listen, but don't promise. Find out if any of your friends know the person/school/clinic. Don't accept offers to 'give to the orphans/old men/un-named school or clinic.
We're a small charity but over the years, we've been able to help hundreds of people. Things have gone wrong, we've been cheated by people we trusted, but such cases are exceptionally rare.
We don't preach a faith and we respect the beliefs of our friends. If we can help, we will. We won't promise help we can't sustain, and yes, it's hard to say 'no'.
Chatting to people at the airport and on the 'plane it's clear that many, many people are doing what we do. This lady may be helping to build a school, that man has sponsored a dozen school student, this person is bubbling with excitement because she's going to meet the child she's helping through nursery school - people are, I'm firmly convinced, good.

Enough ranting I've been putting off the paperwork for claiming Gift Aid on donations.
Must find out if we can claim on the value of reading glasses we took to the clinic last year ....

Friday, 5 April 2013

Free E-book!

'Mussukunda will be available on Kindle from 6/04/2013 to 10/04/2013 - free! Or you could wait to buy it on Thursday for 77p and contribute to GOES funds! Now there's a moral dilemma ...

Thursday, 4 April 2013

'Mussukunda' soon on free offer!

The revised, second edition of 'Mussukunda' will soon be on free offer on Kindle Ebooks. It's the story of how an unemployed single woman from south Lancashire finds her way to West Africa and finds fulfilling work there. She's accepted by the inhabitants of Mussukunda (the place of women), helps in a rescue mission and finds love. I'll post again when it's available.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Mussukunda re-born!

The second book in the 'Malinding' series is in the process of re-publication on Kindle Ebooks. It has a new cover and hopefully all the typos have been corrected. I'll let you know when it's on free offer so that all of you who bought the faulty first edition can see how it was supposed to be! I'm now working on the revision of the third book - 'The Mechanical Girl' - and the the last (I think!) book in the series - 'The Alkalo' - will be available.
Last year the books brought in about £200 - that's to all of you who bought them at the full price ($1 or 77p). The amount that Amazon passed on to the charity - 35% of the sale price - went into the charity account. Money doesn't linger long in the bank vaults! Today I sent £100, via Bayba, which will help maintain a clinic, make a contribution to the wages of a small school and repair a house.
I wonder if increasing the price of the books an Amazon would bring in more money? What do you think?
Best wishes,

Monday, 1 April 2013

Want more money!

I know, I know - so does everybody else! It would come in handy, honestly! There are children in need of school fees, older  students wanting to enrol on IT courses, people with medical needs, schools needing refurbishment, clinics wanting to re-stock their medicine cupboards, unemployed workers who would like just a little capital to start a business, villagers hoping to have just a few bags of cement to weather-proof their homes before the rainy season starts.
 We need a fund-raiser! Unpaid, of course!  6Or donations can be made via the GOES web-site, or money can be +popped into our collection boxes at Hatters and Snips in Warrington, or you can buy the 'Malinding' e-books, available on Amazon Kindle (you don't actually need a Kindle as it's easy to load them onto PCs and Laptops ...
 I'm busy re-editing 'Mussukunda' (should be doing that now but I fancied a tea & biscuit break), which will be going on-line later this week - the book, not the tea break!
 It seems like only a few days since we returned from The Gambia - a couple of months, in fact - but we keep in touch as much as possible with our friends through texts and Skype. Ah well, back to the grind-stone ...