J and I had a day off yesterday. We went to my birth-town, Northwich in Cheshire, to meet some other people who, like us, are interested in History. J even bought me a slice of cake as a reward for driving! Cheshire is one of the most beautiful counties in England. Gentle rolling hills, green lanes, trees, sheep and cows, lovely little villages with a school and a church and a pond with ducks paddling around it. We have rivers and canals and castles and lots of history. Pretty, all very pretty.
But a couple of hundred years ago some of these lovely villages weren't quite so pretty: some of the pretty little cottages, the ones that cost a fortune to buy or rent now, these cottages would have been crammed with children and with parents who worked very hard down the coal mines. No coal mines now, of course; they belonged to the bad old days. There's a nice new BMW or AUDI parked outside today. Back in the day the miner, and some of his children, walked a couple to miles to the mine, spent their days in darkness, and, exhausted after a hard day's work, walked the same couple of miles back to their rented cottage.
And what has this to do with the Gambia? Well, so what was going on there, a couple of hundred years ago? Well, people were working their gardens, building their houses, trying to look after their children, just like the poor people of Cheshire, but with one huge difference. The poor folk of Cheshire were not likely to have been taken as slaves. Slavery still goes on, possibly even more than in the bad old days. Poverty still exists, even in Cheshire people live in slums, parents go hungry to let their children eat. Families depend on food banks, places set up in village halls and churches, to help people in poverty have food to eat. I know that people in the Gambia live in poverty, depend on support from family and friends and neighbours.
We are the same people, linked by a desire to support our children, see them educated, see them live happy, secure lives. We want to see them in good employment. The more I travel the more I realise that all good people are the same, whatever colour or faith or language they have, I feel safe when I live for a while in the homes of my Gambian friends. I wish that they could travel safely to visit me, and I wish that they could prosper in their own lands so that, having made that visit, they could cheerfully and willingly return to their own prosperous, happy, country.
In the meantime, learn a little about village life by purchasing one (or all!) of the Malinding series of eBooks from Amazon. All the income from the sale of these books goes, without deduction, to help schools and clinics in The Gambia.