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.