Friday, 6 November 2015

Banjul Hospital

Another day in the 'GOES on Holiday!' saga. We sort medical supplies out on our bed - reduced in quantity because of our donation yesterday to the village clinic. Today we're taking some stainless steel medical implements (I didn't want to know too much about their use), dressings, catheters and drugs to the country's main hospital in the capital, Banjul.
Ams turns up on time and some of the hotel staff help us to load the heavy boxes and bags into the car. Ams is familiar with the route because his father is an in-patient. We make our way upstairs to the office of Mrs Ceesay, the PPS to the CMO. She thanks us and promises a letter of thanks to the donors. We learn that there is a desperate need for paper rolls which record information from the ECG machine, which appears unobtainable in the Gambia. (When we return home we track down a UK supplier who ships a tear's supply out for us.)
From the hospital we drive the short distance to Bakau, a market and fishing village, to visit a family we've been helping for a year or two. There's a lovely new baby boy, born to a young woman we've sponsored at school and college. While baby sleeps we feast on Chicken Yassa with both rice and chips, followed by fresh fruit. I'm sent to entertain him while his mother takes a shower. Not a happy chappy, even though I sing to him and dance round the room. The return of his mother and the promise of food calm him down and peace returns. We all snooze until it's time to return to the hotel, where we help an old lady with toothache, refuse a rather dubious young man who wants money to either buy his girlfriend a car/re-roof a shop/or just hand money over and he'll decide what to do with it later!
Back to the room to do the accounts for the day. We're waiting for some people from a school a distance up-country to visit. We've brought money for equipment - they need paper & pens and blackboard paint and boards to put the paint on - everything, in fact. They have started the school from scratch, 'borrowed' an unfinished house on the outskirts of their village, and admitted as many children as would fin into the one habitable room. They deserved encouragement!  Because of transport difficulties they arrive about 3 hours late, but that gives us time to check that money given last visit to a young mother for the education of her children has been wisely spent - we are present with receipts from the school and copies of the first school reports. We congratulate her and promise another year's support. A young man arrives and reports he has at last secured safe employment but at a considerable distance from his compound. We offer him half the price of a bicycle and he goes away happy. (He really does buy the bike and we receive reports on his work later.)
The teachers arrive, full of apologies. We do know about the difficulty of travelling in this country. We chat for a while, remind them that we will require receipts for all the money to show how it has been used, treat them to a round of Malta drinks and send them off with money for their fares home.
Another friend calls with a bottle of Baobab juice (delicious, and said to cure all tummy complaints) and we dine off Butterfish and chips and drink Julbrew and watch the bats hunt mosquitoes across the swimming pool.
We slept well.

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