Sunday, 8 November 2015

A day off in The Gambia - or not!

We decide that we are due a rest day - we haven't stopped dashing around since we arrived. The heat is very tiring so we decide to be sensible. We stay in bed longer than normal, have showers, dress and amble down to the terrace dining room. So far this trip we've not been hit by Banjul Belly - you don't want to know the details, you really don't! Usually one or both of us is struck down so J has developed a 'paranoia kit' - disinfectant, rubber gloves, wipes and disposable cloths with which to clean toilet areas we use before we use them! It seems to be working, fingers crossed. If it fails we have Imodium and re-hydration drinks ready. We stay out of the sun as much as we can and drink lots of bottled water. As I say, it's working, so far!
 We chat with people as we queue up for breakfast. It seems that every European wed meet here is contributing to humanitarian aid in some way, either as an individual or as a member of a small charity. Somebody is helping Gambian ex-servicemen with medical expenses, someone is supporting a group of nurses trying to eradicate the practice of FGM, a woman has given away nearly all her clothes an is worrying about how she will manage when she lands back in Gatwick in the middle of winter wearing only flip-flops, shorts and a skimpy T-shirt.
 As we finish breakfast one of the gate-keepers arrives with news that we have visitors - would I like to come to the hotel entrance and sign them in? This isn't going to be a rest day - tomorrow, may be.
 By the time I reach the gate there are three people waiting for me. First, a student nurse we support, complete with her certificate and exam results. She wants to thank J especially for her support and encouragement. I sign her in and she goes off to find my wife.
 Next, a messenger from a village school: money has been stolen from the school fund: the thief has been caught but the money cannot be found so the teachers will have no wages. I make a 'phone call to check the story, which is confirmed. I agree to visit the school tomorrow and give the messenger a little cash for his return journey.
 Next in line is the lady from the bureau-de-change and her young sister, the one who wants to be a doctor. The youngster has had a long spell of good health and wants to show me her school certificates. Not a single day absent from class, top marks in every subject and a glowing testimonial from her teachers. I sign them both in and we set off to find J and celebrate by the pool. So, it's mainly a good news day (apart from the robbery, but we can deal with that tomorrow). Who wanted a day off any way?

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