Friday, 13 April 2018

Keep going?

Yes, possibly, with reservations. The illness I mentioned in the last blog took weeks to clear up. We managed to rescue  half the money we'd paid out for travel, and that money we directed to Gambia to help with health and education, our two main interests. I don't think our travel insurance firm viewed our refund very kindly, they just added it on to our renewal premium, which gave us food for thought.
And the thought is: do we have to be in The Gambia to help Gambians?
It's a sad thought; maybe we don't have to be there? For each of the past twenty years we've spent time out there, wet season and dry, coast and inland, in the Capital and up-country. We've met wonderful people, desperate people, not many rich people. We've been met with smiles, invitations to share meals, jokes, stories and to swap views on cultures, politics, religions, gardening and a thousand other things.
The longer we've talked the smaller our differences have seemed and the greater our similarities have proved to be. Our desires for safe, good quality education and healthcare are universal; they life we wished for our daughter is much the same life they desire for their children.
We're not giving up. We will work on a smaller stage, probably just two schools and one village clinic. With modern communications we can receive a request for assistance in the morning, communicate with villagers at lunch time and send financial aid the same day, receive reports of outcomes the next morning, possibly.
Maybe, one day, we'll feel confident to travel again, to share a bowl of rice with Domada sauce, then relax under the shade of a mango tree, sipping ataya tea and watching the lizards chase through the roots of a baobab.
We miss you, my friends, we miss you.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

GOES & 2018

Christmas 2017 didn't quite turn out as planned. We had planned to join Val & Richard on Christmas Day and be spoiled rotten, be lazy, eat cake and mince pies and relax. I hadn't planned to be ill, to stay at home, 130 miles away from that lovely Christmas Dinner, with only a small cheese sandwich for lunch. Still, it made a change, and think of all the petrol we saved. And I broke a tooth when I tried to substitute a biscuit for that far-away Christmas pudding. Still, lots of time for reflection and planning.
One result of the reflecting was the thought that Gambia is no place to be ill. We've been lucky so far, travelled extensively without suffering much worse than a broken finger nail and some interesting variations of Banjul Belly.
But. Joint age of 160 gives a hint that we aren't getting younger and the realisation that a sub-Saharan remote village probably isn't the best place to be poorly. The cost of the travel insurance backs that supposition.
So we cancelled our January visit. Cowardice? Possibly. Probably. And how to manage GOES if we don't go? In the short term we're lucky that our small team of helpers have proved supportive, honest and wise. We certainly can hang on till the end of the financial year when we can claim Gift Aid and feed it back to the schools and clinics we help. Beyond that point we can't yet see.
Again, many thanks to family and friends, and VRWG, for years of encouragement and support. Perhaps time to find another cause to champion?
As a totally inadequate 'thank you' I've arranged that most of the Malinding Village series of ebooks will be on free offer for the next few days.