July - Tree Planting Week.

On July 18th 2008, Andy returned to The Gambia to be present at Penyem's Tree Planting Week. This is a huge initiative to regenerate the forests around the village. On one day 1500 saplings were collected from the nearby Brikama Forest and transported to the village. This is alot of trees but the target is actually 10000! The collection was hindered by the very heavy early rainfalls. On all of the seven days of the trip there were heavy rains each day. Apparently this is normal for late August - not July - it seems as we in the UK are not the only ones experiencing a change in climate.

With the saplings collected a second day was spent in and around the village planting them. This was a big community event with large groups of villagers coming to help. During this time the Little Northampton land was ploughed and 5 orange trees planted. Ploughing is done by hand using long handed spades. Most of the work is done by the youths of the village with the women following behind sowing millets seeds.
After the ploughing there was an informal ceremony where Andy was asked to plant the first of the saplings on behalf of Northampton. The crowd then walked around the forest infilling gaps with the young trees.

Eventually, a traditional lunch of rice and fish was served out in the bush at which point Andy made a presentation to the village of 150 mosquito nets which were donated by a company called Imerja. This was an unexpected but very welcome donation which helps towards a target of 1000 nets, one for each of the villagers.

This trip was different to the trips we usually take in April. The April trip is a combined holiday. This July visit in many respects saw the village and The Gambia in it's normal day to day state. One can wander freely in the forests, through the small towns and villages. It is only then - away from the trappings of the tourist season, do you realise how poor these people are.

Northampton Trustee Fund - Tree Planting Week. By our Special Gambia Reporter - Daniel Nyang.

Daniel Nyang is NTF's Public Relations Officer in The Gambia. From time to time he sends reports of NTF's activities. During our visits he follows our activities and writes reports from a Gambian viewpoint.

This is Daniel composing the report you can read below.
"Climate change, being a serious problem is caused by the release of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas. There is a lot we can do about it and one of the most important things is to plant trees and protect our forests to go carbon neutral. It is very essential to know the dangers posed by climate change towards our environment and nature. It is responsible for the lack of rains causing drought, desertification, soil erosion and poor harvests, being the main cause of rocketing global food prices. Living carbon neutral is an easy way to take responsibility for the carbon dioxide emissions we create every day.

Northampton Trustee Fund, a U.K. based charitable organisation in the Gambia, in collaboration with Penyem village youth, will be engaged in a tree planting exercise through the active participation and co-ordination of the Village Development Committee under the leadership of Chief Kolley.

The aims and objectives of the project will be to establish the basis for a carbon offset programme of which this occasion will be a community tree planting exercise. Various varieties will be planted, ranging from fruits to medicinal value whose flowers can attract bees, hence creating an opportunity for bee keepers and the community. I will not hesitate to Mr Butler for such a meaningful venture and genuine participation towards maintaining and reserving our forest.

The N.T.F. is not only a charitable organisation that provides educational opportunities and infrastructure for the people of Penyem but are also interested in making sure that the forest is being preserved for future generations. A community based labour was organised by the V.D.C. of Penyem for ploughing of lands and tree planting exercise. The day started with the ploughing and growing of millet on little Northampton land, then we proceeded to the land allocated to the Day Care Nursery School. Ploughing and growing continued then we had a short break for breakfast of peanut porridge made of rice and peanuts.

The tree planting exercise started with the first tree being planted by Mr Butler which continued until lunch time. A lunch of palm oil stew and fish was served in the forest, followed by a presentation of mosquito nets and gifts to individually sponsored children from the various sponsors, accompanied by the usual claps as a sign of appreciation to the good will gesture. Some children were present to collect their gifts and those who couldn't make it due to reasons, were represented by parents or family members.

The N.T.F. representative, the Gambian agent, the village head, I will not hesitate to thank all the people of Northampton for their endless contributions and support in any way in making this project a progressive and successful one."

Signed Dan Ahmadu Nyang (Public Relations Officer)