Another day dawned, already hot. It was time to revisit the very first village we saw on our very first visit to The Gambia. We had joined a tour - Crocodile pool, Craft market, Village school and Clinic. The crocodiles had been very sleepy (probably a good thing, a very good thing!), the craft market spectacular with beautiful tie-dyed materials and hand carved wooden models of every African creature but it was the clinic, busy with patients young and old together with the little school room full of enthusiastic youngsters anxious to shake our hands, practise their English and sing for us that grabbed our hearts. We'd been back many times over the years: children and teachers had come and gone but two at least had remained and become our very good friends.
Ams was on time and we set off. The smoke from the huge rubbish dump that always seemed to be on fire drifted across the road to the SOS Children's Village where orphaned or abandoned children were given a home and a good education. GOES occasionally contributed to the funding but we were happy in the knowledge that the place was well run so we did not interfere. On through Serekunda, a huge sprawling town with an equally large market. If you couldn't buy an item in that market it probably didn't exist.
Half an hour later we arrived. We parked in the shade of a large Baobab tree near the school gates and wandered into the school's compound. We were surprised to find that there had been a complete change of staff - teachers, gardeners, cleaners were all strangers. We were greeted by the new head of the school and shown round as if it was our first visit. We made a donation to the school fund and left, wondering what had happened.
As we walked round the village a number of people with children at the school greeted us and asked if we had ever thought of taking on the management of the school.
We have realised that there are ways we can help and that there are situations we cannot resolve. We cannot take on the task of running another school. The problems in this case appeared to have arisen due to a dispute between the European sponsor and the village education committee, though even that was not clear. We hope that by our next visit the difficulties will have been resolved.