Thursday, 25 December 2008

Tabaski to Christmas

Hello again. I'm back in England after amixed trip - good news and bad news. Bad in that the family of the boy with the bad leg had failed to take him back to the clinic for regular check-ups and his wound has become re-infected. Everyone blaming everyone else, lots of accusations of theft, neglect & ill-will. I arranged for the doctor to see the boy again, laid on transport, a new x-ray and both doctor & I threatened to withdraw support if a single appointment is missed in the future. This took four days of family conferences, 'phone calls, people calling at my house last thing at night and first thing in the morning to say they didn't agree with the decisions that had been reached in the previous meeting and demanding another. Outcome - the doctor has seen the boy and the leg can be treated, so I suppose that's good news!
The good Good News is that by chance I met a young woman who was forced to end her education at the age of fifteen when her father died. She led a very sad life, giving birth to two children. The father of the first child also died and the father of the second ran away. She left the village to seek her fortune and, not finding it, returned to her mother's compound and became an agricultural labourer. She had attempted to join the army and the police force but failed to satisfy either with her educational attainments.
She asked GOES for support with school fees for her children (agreed) and we discussed with her her own ambitions. It seems there is an introductory IT course which includes basic language & maths. She came to the airport to say goodbye and we found ourselves sitting at a table near two people who had taken the course we were discussing and offered her help with it. Also within earshot was the head of a fairly local nursery school who offered the girl a job as a student teacher provided she achieved good grades in the IT course! She also offered her the chance to practice on the school's typewriter to help with her keyboard skills! As I left for the departure lounge the four of them were still deep in conversation.
Apart from two doses of Banjul Belly (don't ask!) my health kept up, my lungs and heart continued to work and I was too busy to worry about it anyway ...
Thanks from all the people you have helped and I'll post some pictures after the family celebrations are over.
Happy Christmas, and we wish you good health, happiness and long life for 2009.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

There's good news and there's bad news ...

Day before the journey. No news about the extra baggage allowance. Suddenly realise there's not much time left and everything is in heaps or plastic bags on/beside/under the spare bed. Flurry of emails/'phone calls. Outcome is the Thomas Cook, who have been so helpful before, aren't going to be this time. No extra allowance. Drat, blather and trudget!!! Good news 1) Adama rings to announce she has washed and ironed some of my clothes that arrived in The Gambia without me in April. Too excited to enquire what's there so out goes my bag of spare clothes. It's a fingers crossed moment. Now down to weighing everything else. Seven kg above the 25 allowed.
Out go some items of clothing for adults. The laptop weighs just under 5kg and will go in my small backpack. Joyce has brain wave - check the accuracy of the fisherman's weight scale. Brilliant! 2kg of tinned food from the pantry shows up as nearly 3kg! The scales add on 0.5kg for every weighing! Fingers crossed, nearly everything goes back into the holdall. Just hope the airport scales aren't made by the same firm as the fisherman's! Next panic - did I book the taxi for 5am in the morning? Better just check!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Packing and discarding ...

The spare bed has vanished under the mountain of essential stuff that MUST go to The Gambia. Alongside is a much smaller heap of things I'd like to take - spare clothes, toothbrush, medication to keep me functioning. I'm waiting to hear from flight 737 that it can carry a few extra Kgs of luggage. I have survived for a couple of weeks on one T-shirt, and one of most everything else (two shoes, though. Sometimes I spoil myself!)
I'll be missing the Poems and Pints at the Blue Cap, Sandiway, 9/12/08 @ 7pm. Pity - I quite enjoy performing - no shame in old age!
Hope to bring some decent pictures home, including one of the tap at Bundung school, in place thanks to a donation by my friend David, who died recently at far too young an age.
I'm looking forward to visiting friends and the children we're helping to sponsor. One advantage of being a micro-charity is that we know personally the people we help, and we know that help goes directly where to where it's needed. One disadvantage of being a micro-charity is that we never have enough money to help all the people we would like to help ...
Three days to go. Best wishes to all of you who help. Thanks.