On 27 November I visited The Gambia to check on projects and to plan for future initiatives. On this visit I was accompanied by Michael York, who had asked to come along for the experience of visiting a Third World Country. This made the trip much more interesting for me, and it was good to have the views of another person. In this picture we see Michael visiting a normal Gambian family in their compound. This visit was not pre-arranged or 'set up'. We were simply travelling around the local area to the hotel region, and our Agent, Dan, called in on this family just to say 'Hello' - Dan is at the back of the photo.
During our stay in The Gambia we visited Penyem village on two days. The first day was used to inspect the various projects. We had a surprise greeting when we arrived. The track on the edge of the village was lined with children from Penyem Upper Basic School. They cheered and sang as we approached. The reason for this welcome was to acknowledge the fund raising done by The Kingswood School Students from last February. (You may remember from a earlier post in this blog that they raised the funds to repair the school's water pump).
It was good to see some improvements were being made to the water supply. The storage tank was being repaired and painted. New standpipes were also being installed to help with irrigation of the surrounding banana plantation and to help with the cleaning of the solar panels.
I was able to look at the progress in the new classroom block. The shelving in 'The Andrew Butler Dream Corner' is now complete and the materials and equipment in the room are starting to be organised. The outer shell of the toilet block is now complete. Part of the reason for our visit to The Gambia was to deposit phase 4 and 5 payments in the bank to allow the building to be finished. I was satisfied with what I saw so 100000 Delasis was deposited in the bank in Brikama. The photo shows the toilet block from the school side. Through the doorway will be 4 toilet cubicles with proper flush toilets and wash basins outside the cubicles. The floors will be tiled. At the rear of the building is a similar doorway and the same facilities inside. One side will be for boys and the other is for girls. In the photo you can just see another doorway at the other end. This is a staff toilet and shower. We aim to open the block next time we visit in February 2013.
At this point I would like to thanks all our sponsors again.. Without your support it would have not been possible.
I was able to meet the new doctor. He seems to be 'on the ball' and keen to do well. He had regular patients when I was there, including a boy of about 10 years old who was making the most fearful noise as the doctor was trying to give him an injection!
Michael is a keen tennis player. He took some donated rackets and balls with him on the trip to donate to the village with the view of introducing a new sport to Penyem. This turned out to be a great success! The photo shows Michael teaching some basic skills in the village hall using a table for the net. Michael is considering funding an outside concrete mutti use area that can be used for a variety of sports including Tennis. Watch out for more news about this project in later blogs. The photo on the right shows the meeting I had with parents of the sponsored children of the Kingswood School Students and staff who will visit in February 2013. Here I am trying to arrange for the students to visit the homes of the families for a whole day. They were very amused when I asked the to provide traditional Gambian clothing for the students to wear for the day!
Overall a great deal was achieved on this visit. We learnt a little more about the Gambians and they learnt more about us. Much of Gambian life is built around trust. These visits build the trust we have in each other.