Friday, 14 December 2018


GOES (Gambian Occasional Emergency Support) is a micro charity* registered with HMRC for Gift Aid (XT 7385)
Looking back to Christmas 2017 when we were a little worried about the future of GOES, a mocro charity Joyce and I have been running for about 12 years.
We were finding it impossible, due to our interesting collection of age and medical conditions, to find travel insurance at a price we could afford. To take my mind off the worry I decided to be ill (!) and we cancelled our celebrations.
Recovering, we decided to hand over the practical of work in The Gambia to a young local man, K. He, with his family, lives in the village** where much of our work goes on. K is familiar with the local schools, and the very busy local clinic. We also operate in another fishing village, Bakau, and a suburb of the busiest city, Serrekunda, where we support another nursery school.
We pay a salary – we’re not paying for airfares so that’s sorted that – and local bush taxi fares. He has been accepted as our representative by all the beneficiaries and we’ve received positive feedback from them. Nearly twelve months on and things seem to be going smoothly. We, with your help, have supported 15 students, mainly female, aged from 7 to 22, with funding towards their education. A school has received a grant towards the cost of re-roofing, a village clinic has been kept supplied with essential medical supplies, and an indoor fresh water supply has been laid on.
·          * Operating on less than 5,000 GBP pa
·         ** The village ‘Malinding’ is based on, re-located onto the opposite bank of the river Gambia.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Free Malinding Village Amazon Kindle ebooks

Several Kindle ebooks in the Malinding Village series are on free offer for the next few days.

Set on the banks of the mighty Gambia River the village offers shelter to a mix of British ex-pats and attempts to introduce them to a civilised way of life.

Meet Ed, Sirra, Ebou, Sam, Jodie,  Binta and a host more – learn to brew tea, cook benechin, eat properly,  and even build a house …

Saturday, 13 October 2018

What we do when we're not working for GOES

One of us is an historian. That’s why were up at half past six the other morning. The train was at half past eight and we had to be on it. We started to ring for taxis at half past seven. We could have had practically every taxi in Warrington – at half past nine. A good neighbour who was taking the day off work to have root canal surgery offered to drive us to the station. It might take his mind off things …we caught the train. The ticket machine at the station worked perfectly, at the third try. The young gentlemen sitting in our pre-booked seats vacated them with a smile. The train was on time. We arrived at the Lancaster University early enough to wander round and get lost. We found our way back to the Ruskin Library and Research Centre. It’s an exciting, dynamic structure, ship shaped, approached along a causeway through a field of wildly waving grasses. Beautiful. Through the heavy double doors (less of these later) and into the interestingly shaped lecture room. It’s ‘Y’ shaped. The audience sit in the arms of the Y, unable to see one another. The lecturer stands at the joint of the arms and attempts to be heard by both sides at the same time. Behind the lecturer is a huge window which gives a clear view of buses entering the University grounds. No 1 seems to be popular. A working sound system would also be popular.
Coffee and very nice biscuits were in a cramped corner of one of the arms by good humoured staff, as was an excellent lunch. Perhaps if there had been room for a few tables lunch would have been even more enjoyable? Certainly less enjoyable was the blocked lavatory I encountered after lunch. As it appeared to be the only one available I called on my army training and cleared it. The wash basins have very hot water. Thankfully.
The lectures were excellent, interesting, and mostly audible. An announcement was made during the afternoon tea break. Storm Callum had blown one of the heavy entrance doors off its hinges, and the entrance was considered to be unsafe. We would therefore exit via the basement. We did. Our taxi picked us up, and, apart from developing a fault with its brakes, delivered us, on time, to the station. Being on time was unimportant because a tree had fallen on the line north of Lancaster and or train arrived 32 minutes late. We were assured that Virgin would refund our fares.
An interesting day, and we learned much about the extraction of peat from the Cumbrian fells, and more about the problems of bracken for the commoners of the region. We’re due to visit Whalley Abbey in the New Year.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Writers writing

Well, one writer thinking about writing ... we visited Gladstone's Library, at Hawarden near Chester, last weekend. Joyce runs a writing course for Vale Royal Writers there, twice a year. The Library is unique; Mr Gladstone, 4 times Prime Minister, left his collection of books for anyone to read. The library was built to accommodate the books and 28 bedrooms, a restaurant, and a chapel for the readers. The library is silent but the rest of the house rings to laughter and chatter. It's a good place to be. I managed to add a couple of thousand words to 'Jodie Two' the second book in the story of Jodie Sonko, orphan, para-athlete and politician. Girl on Wheels is the story of youth, Jodie Two sees her into a troubled middle age, and all money from the sale of these, and all the 'Malinding Village' books, goes to the Gambia to support students, mothers, old people, in schools and clinics. The most recent donations bought sacks of rice to be shared among the poor of a small village; the next will fill the medicine cupboard of a hard working village clinic.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Back to the Blog :-)

GOES seems to be working fairly well in its new slim -line form.
We've sent money to the clinic to re-stock the drugs cupboard, we've supplied bags of rice for distribution to families in need, and we've paid school fees for the students we support.
This all depends on trust, but then, so much in life does. I don't anticipate any problems, maybe naive, but if we don't trust one another what is the point?

Here I am, slaving away over a hot laptop, adding a few thousand more words to Jodie Two, the second volume of Jodie Sonko's autobiography. When it's published on Kindle (about Christmas 2018, I hope) all money from sales of the book, as with all the Malinding Village story books, will go to helping people, young and old, in Gambia.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Very belated update :-(

I miss the sounds of village life. I miss the scent of my favourite food cooking - many of you will know what that is! I miss sitting under the shade of the mango tree, chatting to friends, to people who have, over the course of many years, become as close as family to me.
  Last time I wrote in this blog I wondered what would become of GOES, now that we are probably unable to travel to Gambia again. That was four months ago. We have found that we can manage for the foreseeable future to run a restricted service, concentrating on the villages we have helped in the past, people we know already to be reliable and trustworthy. We regret that we cannot take on new clients.
  We will continue to make the same contributions to GOES funds, and, considering that we will sadly, not be spending our money on flights and hotels, perhaps increase our funding. Perhaps also I will be  able to spend more time publicising the books I've written about Malinding Village, more money will flow into the bank from increased sales! (You have bought all of them, of course? Bless you!)
  We rely on the help of a few of our close Gambian friends to ensure that the money GOES donates to the schools, clinics, and students is wisely spent. If we find that it is being wasted or fraudulently used we will close the charity and donate any remaining funds to another charity elsewhere. It does seem to have worked reasonably well during the last four months, so, with fingers crossed, we'll continue 😎
  Best wishes to all of you,
Tom and Joyce

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.