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Andrew and Anne Butler
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Kingswood School visit - February 2013

We have just returned from a great visit to The Gambia! The highlight of the visit was the official opening of the new school toilet block!

On 11 February 2013, a group of students and teachers from The Kingswood School in Corby flew out to The Gambia on the now annual visit. Travelling with the group were Andrew Butler from NTF, former Kingswood Headteacher, David Tristram and Corby Phoenix Rotarians, Mel Jarvis and John Dixon. Unfortunately, the trip organiser and teacher, Faye Austin was unable to travel. We also had with us Anna Johnson – more about Anna later!

During the week we had excellent hot weather, a welcome break from the snow in the UK. Again we were welcomed by our great friends in The Gambia including our full time representative Dam Nyang. We had three day visits to Penyem, all of the days were packed full of challenging and exciting things for the students. As usual, all of the group travelling had sponsored a child in the year leading up to the visit, and so would spend a good amount of time with their sponsored child and families. On the first day we were treated to the emotional welcome of the children standing at the side of the road singing and chanting. By the time we reached the school everyone had children holding every finger on each hand! We were welcomed by Chief Kalilu Kolley. We were able to confirm the project sponsored by Labcare UK, the appointment and training of a Health Assistant for the Health Centre. A cheque for £1620 from Labcare was presented to Chief Kolley. The group toured the village projects. At this point the ward room in the Health Centre sponsored by Corby Phoenix Rotary was officially opened by Mel and John. In addition, a commemorative plaque in the Pharmacy was unveiled recognising the efforts of Moulton Primary School in their fundraising.

The group were treated to a display of drumming and dancing to celebrate our arrival.

The second day visit allowed the group to visit the lessons of both the Upper basic and lower schools. Everyone joined in with the lessons and some even taught the classes! The challenge was to teach the class of 83 reception children or to teach the Grade 4 class some new nursery rhymes – along with breaking up the odd fight!

On the final day visit the best part of the day was spent with the families of the sponsored children. This time we had asked that our students and teachers were treated as Penyem natives going about a normal day. So many were dressed in Gambian clothing, got water from the well, fed the animals, washed the children and prepared a meal. On the whole this was a great success. A day that will remain with everyone for the rest of their lives.

All that remained was the official opening of the toilets. The building had just been completed the day before. If fact some of the students were involved on the last bit of painting. The ribbon was cut and the building was open. The staff toilet and shower was named ‘The Webb Suite’ after the Webb family who raised nearly half of the funds for the building. It was the first time that many of the village children had seen flush toilets. Some were scared when they were shown how they worked!

To complete the day was the traditional football match, which somehow we managed to win 1-0!

Remember Anna? Anna remains in The Gambia! She was not a student at The Kingswood School, however she came with us and stayed on to gain experience in maternity work. She is working in a Maternity Hospital, alongside a local student. She is having a great time and experience – and is very busy!

STOP PRESS news! We are pleased to announce a small restructuring of our management in The Gambia.
Dam Nyang - previously our Operations Manager has been moved to a new position od Director of Logisitics for NTF (The Gambia).
Andrew Gomez has taken the position of Operations Manager for NTF (Penyem). Both of these work on a voluntary basis but with benefits.

Also we are pleased to announce that the sponsorship of the village doctor by Imerja UK Limited for 2013-2014 has been confirmed on 25 February 2013.