Sunday, 20 April 2008.
Here we are having returned from Tha Gambia after our April 2008 visit. Needless to say we had a brilliant time and were yet again made so welcome by the villagers of Penyem. We visited Penyem on a Saturday which allowed all of the villagers the opportunity to join in the celebrations. We were met by drummers and dancers and a guard of honour of 50 young children who were singing and waving flags.We were able to tell the villagers that the number of sponsored children has now risen to 61 in total, and we thank all the sponsors again for their generousity. We have encountered a problem with the sponsorship agreements. Last year the fees were calculated at 50 Delasis to the £. The rate has fallen recently so we worked on 44 Delasis to the £ - in fact the best we can do is 35 Delasis. This means the cost per year has risen, but our list of sponsors have stuck with us - thanks! To sponsor the youngest child the fees are currently £40, middle age children are £80 and the senior children are £110. We still beleive this is a small price to pay for a year's education. We still need to find sponsors for 7 additional children - 4 older ones and 3 youngers ones. Get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, 20 April 2008.
Monday, 21 April 2008 | Posted by AJB1 at 06:33
Sunday, 20 April 2008 | Posted by AJB1 at 12:13
Posted by AJB1 at 11:50
Posted by AJB1 at 11:46
What a wonderful experience to see at first hand the work that I had, for the past year, only read about in newsletters. For those people who have never visited a third world country, it is very difficult to have any true concept of the conditions that these people live under. Materialistically they have very little but they all try to make the most of what they do have, just wanting to be able to provide for their families. There are very few opportunities for work and so we can only hope that by enabling some of the young people of Penyem to gain an education more opportunities will open up for them.
The visit to Penyem itself, despite not feeling too well that day, was an amazing experience. I will never forget the welcome that awaited us. The sight of the school children lining the side of the road waving their home made Union jacks and singing a welcome song made me feel like the Queen! This was followed by drum beating and dancing that seemed to go on for ages. Another highlight was meeting my sponsored child. Most of the children were a bit overwhelmed by the occasion and just seemed to stare, probably they had never seen a white person before. My child, a boy of fifteen, seemed pleased with the football shirt and book I took for him, but wasn’t quite sure what to say. Again I expect that he was not used to getting presents. It was noticeable that when the other children were given their gifts from their sponsors they didn’t open them but hung on tightly to be opened I suspect in the privacy of their own homes.
Another part of the day was a meeting with the village group to make decisions on what they would like help with next. Unfortunately by this time I was feeling quite ill and have to admit I did doze off once or twice but not before I realized how grateful these people are with the support that they receive from The Northampton Trustee Fund and how every penny that is collected from fundraising is put to good use. However, during this time Chief Colley did seem to find time to become engrossed in a book I had given him for his school on Prince William – he couldn’t fail to notice the difference in lifestyle!
There is far too much to write about here but if you get the chance to go out to Penyem take it with both hands you will have an experience that you will never forget. Joyce Nicholls
Posted by AJB1 at 06:32
Penyem – An example of direct development projects
We arrived at Penyem to a raucous, friendly welcome. It seemed as if the whole village was there to greet us. It was obvious that Andy and Anne’s annual visits to the village were an excuse for celebration and a ‘big party’. We were treated to a fascinating display of local music, dancing and traditions in which all generations of the village participated from very young children to quite elderly grand parents. The formal welcome was a led by Chief Kolley and other village elders and it was an expression of their gratitude for the various projects that the Northampton Trustee Fund (NTF) has supported over the years.
We then went to the village primary school where we had a good lunch consisting of local food, and discussed the projects that we were going to see in the afternoon. These were as follows:
Lifetime Sponsorship of students
We met with students who have been awarded sponsorship for their education from primary school through to university. It was very moving to see and hear how proud the parents and families of these children were and to witness first hand the basic way in which families in the village lived.
We then visited the village water well. This provides water for the whole village and is powered by solar panels which provide the energy for the large water pump. NTF have been involved in this project over the past two years as part of a joint venture with some sponsors from the USA. This venture has been very difficult to coordinate and it could be seen that it was huge relief to the village development committee and NTF that after many set backs this project was now up and running and working successfully. In fact, the water pump works so effectively that that one of the next projects is to increase the capacity of the water storage tank for the village so that all villagers can access clean fresh water very day, instead of every other day as they do at the present time.
This project has also taken a while to come to fruition, however, Andy and Anne were both pleased to see this project was now producing results. The village has set up and cooperative chicken farm which operates on a commercial basis and will help Penyem to become self sustaining and earn precious revenues which can be ploughed back to the economic development of the village. It was good to see that NTF money has been used for investment in a self sustaining project such as this.
It is wonderful to know that a small part of West Africa is named little Northampton! It comprises of an area of land in the agricultural area of the village which has been gifted to NTF. This land is currently being used to grow maize which is used to provide all the students at the primary school with a breakfast every day.
At the end of the day we were invited as honoured guests to the village sports field to watch the young people of Penyem first team play against Penyem reserves. This was a brilliant experience. The standard of football was truly excellent with many of the players displaying a very high level of skill and commitment. The pace was very quick, the tackling was hard and the standard of play was of the highest level. We were told that since NTF ‘s support commenced Penyem village football teams have improved each year, so much so that in 2007 they made it to the regional final and are now playing at a level well above that of a small village. Support from NTF has been vital in helping to develop sports in Penyem and the surrounding area. It seemed like the whole village had come out to watch, young, old, men and women. It was a party atmosphere throughout the match with loud music, dancing and fun for all spectators young from the age of 2 to 70.
Overall my visit to Penyem was an amazing experience. There are several lessons that the visit has taught me
· Just how much we take the basics of life for granted in England, such as clean fresh water, electricity and food.
· How in an African village such as Penyem, the whole village community seems to be responsible for raising the children. Although deprived of material possessions that we take for granted, youngsters in Penyem are lucky in the sense that they grow up in a loving, safe and secure community where all are looked after and watched over with seemingly no conflict or friction between generations.
· How much education is seen as the most valuable gift that can be given to a young person
· That the work of organizations such as NTF is invaluable in terms of contributing to the development of countries such as Gambia through small projects which have a direct influence on improving peoples lives at a local level.
Finally the work of Andy and Anne Butler needs to be recognised as making a real difference to the lives of many hundreds of people in a very remote and poor part of inland Gambia. (now click older posts below).
Saturday, 19 April 2008 | Posted by AJB1 at 06:29
Penyem Boys in Northampton Town colours!
Friday, 18 April 2008 | Posted by AJB1 at 07:10
We could not do this without you! Of course we cannot mention everyone. However, we must mention a few! Val and David Sabin from Val Sabin Publications in Northampton for a huge input, Millway Primary School and Chiltern Primary School for their regular contributions. Moulton Primary School and The Kingswood School have already been mentioned. Little Sutton Primary School for sponsoring a child, although the school is near Birmingham! Imerja, a northern IT company for supplying £750 of mosquito nets. Imerja also have sponsored the village nursr for 2010. Thomas Cook airlines for providing us with double baggage allowance on each trip!
Thursday, 17 April 2008 | Posted by AJB1 at 07:35
Monday, 14 April 2008 | Posted by AJB1 at 07:56
Registered UK Charity Number: 1115191
May 2008 Newsletter
At last we have been able to put together an update on our trip to The Gambia last month. The reason for the delay is that we have been waiting for some additional input from the Penyem Village Development Committee. At this time of writing we are still waiting on GMT – Gambia Maybe Time! The reason for the delay will become apparent later in this letter.
So Anne and I set off for The Gambia in early April this time accompanied by our friends Nick and Joyce. Nick works as an Education Officer in the LEA (Nick’s wife Sue was unable to come). Joyce is now retired after many years teaching in Northampton schools. Our passage went smoothly. On arrival at Banjul airport we were greeted by the enthusiastic baggage handlers. We quickly ‘employed’ 4 of them to look after the 200kg+ of luggage. The head honcho said to me ‘ Oh sir I saw you on TV 2 years ago’ so we were well away! Another group of willing baggage handlers located all our boxes from the aircraft hold and bought them to the arrivals hall on a ‘private’ trolley. Customs can be difficult! However, this time we were shown to a side room – opened 3 boxes for approval, and after much nodding and handshaking and the liberal distribution of £1 coins, we were on our way!
Our visit to Penyem Village was on a Saturday. The welcome was again superb! Nick and Joyce were overwhelmed! The children lined the track, singing and waving home made flags. We were surrounded by the villagers and escorted to the village centre, to the tune of drums and colourful dancing.
We then had two hours of speeches, dancing and presentations. At this point we were able to hand over this year’s resources of board games, sports equipment etc. In addition, we were able to announce the continued sponsorship of 33 children and a further 18 for this year. We also are able to help two eleven year olds and a five year old for a special sponsorship initiative from The Kingswood School, Corby and Moulton Primary School. The villagers were so grateful.
For the first time we were part of VDC meeting to discuss various projects. Moulton Primary School, where our daughter teaches, had raised over £4000 for the fund. This is more than we have been able to offer in the past and so we asked the VDC to meet again at a later date to decide how to use this money – the results we are still waiting for – hence the delay with this letter. We are not concerned about the delay – all it means in the VDC are taking the decision very seriously.
Furthermore, to the surprise of the VDC we asked them to cost up an extension to the school. The Andrew Butler Dream Corner is a room they use to store all the gifts from NTF. It is now too small! So we asked for a price to build rooms twice the size. We have interest from a local source to fund this project. However, if any of you know of anyone who would like to get involved please let us know. In the whole scheme of things is would be such a small cost. A cost beyond the hopes of the villagers – but to us – perhaps 5 secondary schools doing a non uniform day a £1 per student? Nothing!
Anyway, back to our trip. We then moved to look at the land called ‘Little Northampton’. This has been well cultivated, growing maize to feed the children breakfast at school. The chicken farm had chickens! A small banana plantation had been planted in the same area. The water system was working well – but they really need a larger storage tank, The very primitive health centre was a little more organised. This is all due to you and the contributions you have made over the years.
And so onto the exhibition football match, by which time we were wilting a bit! But it was a time for the whole village to come together for a carnival! After the first half we need to return to civilization as we know it! (A cool beer or two at the hotel!) So, we loaded the vehicle and left, stopping at the house of our friend and agent Abdou Camara (Ten) to give his Dad some tobacco we had bought earlier. His Mum got some cash and soap!
In this short newsletter we cannot possibly tell all. You really need to come with us! Bookings are being taken for next Easter! Call us to talk about it. For much more detail on what we do have a look at –
If you sponsor a child at school please continue to contact them through us. New sponsors, can write to their child and send the letters to us to post in the first instance.
Just to remind you of the procedure. Write to your child (do not put your address on the letter). Put the letter in an envelope and label it with the name of the child (you may wish to include a small gift – money is good! £5 max – but don’t feel obliged – and it is best if it is in Delasis. Then get the letter to us and we will post them off from time to time. Please don’t expect an immediate reply.It often takes 3 weeks for post to clear customs and another 3 weeks to find it’s way to Penyem!
Finally, we have some tablecloths and bed covers from the village for sale. They are really nice, £25 and £30 with the small profit going directly back to the village.
Thanks again for all your support. We will be in touch again soon.
Posted by AJB1 at 07:30
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