Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Mrs Horija Dibba

GOES has been supporting Mrs Dibba while she studied for her first degree, then for her Master's, at the University in Uganda. We helped in a number of small ways and were continually delighted by her successes.
We had been corresponding by e-mail for about four years and finally met this December at the Badala Park Hotel in Kotu.
Mrs Dibba works with the charity ChildFund, supervising twenty five nursery schools in The Gambia. Here she is, in her own school, surrounded by fortunate young students at the start of their academic careers.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The clinic at work.

Sorry, couldn't resist this - the clinic is already doing excellent work and a supply of piped clean water can only improve the results. We hope that by the time we visit again, probably in March next year, we'll be able to show you the completed installation. Thanks to all of you who helped bring this about.
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No title!

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Signing the receipt.

All three sign the receipt for the donation from money raised by Vale Royal Writers Group and Joyce's bike ride.
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The money!

Tom hands over the money which will pay for the installation of a piped water supply to Mariama, the nurse in charge of the clinic. K, in the background, witnesses the transaction.
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Water - part two

Water at last!

Water comes to Mandinari Village. Perhaps not one of the most pretty sights in the world - unless you live in a village which has never had running water. This storage tank stands beside the road from Lamin to Mandinari.

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Sunday, 4 December 2011

Posted by PicasaAlmost packed - well, I did say 'almost'! Thanks to Laura at
Thomas Cook's for the huge suitcase.  Thanks to so many
others for donations of reading glasses, children's clothes,
shoes, books, bandages, blood-pressure monitors, SD cards -
and money, of course. Sorry - I forgot the stuff for the schools.
Of course it will all fit in!

A very happy Joyce, having completed the 40km
ride in good time and finishing 650th out of 950 riders!
She has raised more than £200 for the charity -
many thanks to all her supporters.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Many thanks to Thomas Cook!
TC have again granted us an extra 20kg of baggage allowance so we can start packing the baby clothes, the reading glasses (more needed!) the oddments of computer connections, the books, mobile 'phones (still more needed !), the medical supplies (we've got one blood pressure monitor; could use another), CDs of African music, pencils, crayons - oh, and as much spare money as you can afford! There are school fees waiting to be paid, medical expenses to be met, teachers wages to be paid, mosquito nets to be distributed ...
Laura and Lynne have both offered suitcases which we can load with the above goodies and then leave out in one of the villages for people to use as storage cupboards.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

100% means every penny!

There has been a lot of publicity recently about charitable funds being used to provide people who should have known better with luxuries such as first class flights and the like.
Every penny that is given to GOES is used to benefit needy people in The Gambia. Every pair of reading glasses we receive goes first to a clinic then to someone with fading eyesight. We promise you that any donation given to GOES is used exactly as we promise. We pay our own way. We pay for our flights, accommodation and food. We travel about by local taxi. In addition we tithe our income to the charity.
Thanks for your time - just wanted to make things clear!
Best wishes,

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Here's a way you can help GOES (or most other charities of your choice) and it won't cost you a penny!

Just register with and use it as your search engine when you shop on line. You nominate GOES (or any other charity of your choice) at that stage.

GOES will receive 0.5p for each search you do. Doesn't sound much? Well, so far we have received £48 this year! Believe me, every penny counts!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Goodbye, with many thanks!

Sadly we have to say goodbye to two of our loyal supporters. Both have contributed generously over a period of years and thanks to their efforts a young woman and a young man have gained a good education - a priceless gift.
Sincere thanks to both of you - you know who you are!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Well done Joyce!

Joyce has just completed a 25 mile sponsored cycle ride for GOES. Not bad for 70+ ! Very proud of her - well done!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Chance conversations

It's always worthwhile mentioning The Gambia when chatting to people. Today, for instance, I mentioned our work with GOES and found that the lady attending to my poorly toes is a member of a charity which funds medical work all over the world - including The Gambia. I looked at their wbsite, FMS - Festival Medical Services - so I've registered with them. Who knows what comes from a few words?
Joyce is riding her bike in a fund-raising cycle ride: about 20 miles on Sunday. She hopes to feed the GOES bank account before we go out again in December.
The first batch of Poems and Prose from VRWG sold well and we're hoping to have the next edition on sale in time for Christmas - wonderful presents!
The collection of old reading glasses is growing well, we could do with a few more old mobile 'phones, hint, hint!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

I can see clearly now!

The pile of donated goodies in the spare bedroom grows steadily day-by-day. People, including complete strangers, are so kind. This time we seem to be specialising in reading glasses!
No reason, they're just coming in. We took some out last time - a selection of Poundlands £1 a pair reading specs. We divided them between two clinics and gave out a few ourselves. The results were wonderful to see - and old man cried as he realised he could read his beloved Koran again; an old lady's face just lit up in a huge smile as she held her baby great-grand daughter and could see her clearly. Other pairs went to school children ... the joy from things we, well, things I take for granted.
We've also some lovely knitted baby-hats (must report that a couple of the last batch were hi-jacked by a couple of young mums ...
Thanks again to everybody who supports us. We hope you'll be able to visit The Gambia one day soon. Do take some pencils for the schools, won't you? Old mobile 'phones, perhaps? Tin openers?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Writers to the rescue!

Our friends at Vale Royal Writer's Group have generously contributed their work to a small anthology - poems and short stories - to help raise funds for GOES. We sold the first batch at our Summer Wordfest when VRWG joined with the Dead Good Poets of Liverpool and performed at the Blue Cap Inn at Sandiway. We'll have the next edition ready for the Winter Wordfest in December. If you would like a copy - excellent value for £2.50 ( inc. postage) - send the money and you'll receive a copy of this original work! Fourteen poems and stories for less than 18p each!
Thanks to all the writers, and a special 'thank you' to the printers and publishers - Liz, Mark, Jenny, Tim and Co.
Roll up - collect in person and it's yours for £2.00 !

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Update on our activities

We have been busy, honestly. It's the time of year to concentrate on raising funds here and it's the rainy season over there! Rain isn't very good for the village houses and there are always repairs to be done, cement to be bought, corrugated roofs to be repaired.
Last night the ValeRoyal Writers' Group, together with the Dead Good Poets of Liverpool, held a wordfest at the Blue Cap Hotel in Sandiway. Invited poets performed and local poets made good use of the 'open mic' sessions to entertain their audience.
The raffle and the sale of books produced 3000 Gambian Dalasis (£65 in UK money!)
The VRWG book was the Summer 2010 mini-anthology of the group's stories and poems, (shortly to be followed by an Autumn Collection). Mark and Tim and Jenny and Liz worked long hours to publish and print the books ready for the show.
We're still waiting for the arrival of Gift Aid (it's the return of Income Tax on donations made by friends of the charity). To be honest, we're still waiting because I was late applying for it. In the end I had to take me by the scruff of my neck and force me to sit in front of the computer for three hours. Job done. Why was I making such a fuss about it?
Anyway, the Charity is back in funds. Because there is always a need for help by the time you read this most of the funds will have been sent to people in The Gamble. We don't let the money pile up in the bank when it could be working for people who need it.
We sold our little boat too, on Ebay, to raise some money for a particular urgent case. I must admit that we now have a habit of looking at things and wondering how much they would fetch at auction! Last year the scooter went and an out-door classroom arrived in a Gambian Village.
The tandem was sold and several children went to school .... one way of getting rid of the clutter!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Where has all the money gone?

Something of a problem - running out of money while, at the same time, the need for it increases.
GOES can keep promises already made but we're unable at the moment to take on new commitments. It's quite heart-breaking to have to say 'Sorry, we can't help you.' We never make promises we can't keep: it would be so easy to say 'We'll see if we can help next month' but at the moment it just would not be true. We can't be dishonest and deal out false hope.
We are aware of young people who would benefit from futher education; there are clinics urgently in need of funds to purchase antibiotics; schools which would make massive strides forward with just one extra, qualified, teacher; families which would be protected by the gift of a mosquito net - the list is endless.
GOES does not thrive on memories of what has been achieved (though, with the help of friends that achievement is considerable) but on thoughts of what is yet to be accomplished.
Please help if you can. These are desperate times.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Quick update on slow progress!

Title says it all. We've been trying to catch up with our writing - letters of thanks to our supporters and with the books - hopefully the books will raise money which will in turn help us to help more people ...
I really must get on with the Gift Aid claim to HMRC. We rely on this to start the financial year off.
Providing that a person who donates, say £10 is a tax payer we can claim back the tax she/he paid on that money and the total gift becomes £12.50 - it's a real help.
The spare bed, which was clear when we returned (everything you gave us went with us to The Gambia and found a new home) is filling up again with donated goods - medical, educational & clothing.
So, things are happening. It just doesn't seem like it at times! I really must produce another Newsletter too.
Bother! Forgot to mention that the efforts of Jenny & Paul have meant that in addition to this blog we now have a website
Good things are happening!

Saturday, 23 April 2011


Sorry to report that Mariama - Glynn Jones - who has worked for SHINE Africa, the charity that builds and supports nursery schools in The Gambia, has had to be repatriated to the UK following a serious illness. All her friends wil be wishing her well and praying for her speedy recovery.

Friday, 15 April 2011


Ebou and Tom shake hands as we welcome him to the team. Tom wants a T-shirt now!
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Our local agent.

Ebou and Tom. Ebou has recently agreed to be our local agent. This will save us a lot of leg work - and worry. We are very pleased to welcome him to our team.
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Jones Nursery School, Mandinari

A rare view - only one child in sight. The school, built by SHINE, has been supported by GOES and other charities. The co-operation seems to produce the best results for the children of the village. The new classroom, built by a Dutch couple, blends in perfectly with the original structure.
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All hands to the bantabar!

The headmaster lends a hand - it looks just like lego but it's a bit heavier!
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Thursday, 14 April 2011

Happy Gardening!

Remember a couple of years ago when GOES, with your help, established a garden in the compound of the Jones' Nursery School? Well, it worked! The children and staff can now enjoy fresh fruit (We can testify that it is delicious). Congratulations to the staff of the school - they have worked very hard to produce such fine crops. And thank you, because you provided the money to make it possible!


This serious looking young man is the same chap who was so badly affected by a horrible skin rash last year. Thanks to you we managed to buy the correct ointment to end his misery and he now looks forward to a career as an international footballer star! (There's a spare tube of cream, just in case ...)

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Missing pictures.

I haven't really got the hang of all this technology yet!

The important thing is to thank each and everyone of

you, here in the UK and in The Gambia, for your

support and encouragement. It wouldn't have been

possible without you.

Bantabar/classroom/market stall!

Here's our latest contribution to Jones Nursery School at Mandinari Village. This will provide a multi-purpose facility for the school - a shaded story-telling area, a meeting place, a covered market stall for selling the school produce (the bananas are delicious) or just a quiet place for staff and visitors to relax and drink green tea ... Apart from SHINE (which built the school and GOES, which provides support, other charities and individuals provide help. A Dutch couple provided the new classroom on the extreme left hand side of the school building.

The boots arrive!

... and here they are! Demonstrated on the feet of a very enthusiastic young footballer. He explained, at length, the virtues of these particular boots, named the famous players who wear similar boots (and the teams they play for) and even attempted to interest his sister! Thanks, Bob!

One of our supporters checking the goods!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Sorry, sorry, sorry!

Sorry that we've been out of touch. My computer has been playing tricks on me; every time that I try to log on the connection drops so I've borrowed a friend's machine to try to update things!

The spare bed is now piled high with things to take to The Gambia next week. Thank goodness that Thomas Cook have been so generous with extra baggage allowance! Michelle, the TC advisor who has been helping us has also given us goodies to take, and our neighbours have been donating everything from pencils to children's clothing - hope it all fits in! We've also done quite well with books this time, and because of the extra weight allowance we'll be able to take them, ranging from medical dictionaries to Tracy Beaker stories.
So, it's pack and go time!
Thanks to one and thanks to all!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Back to packing!

Managed, with the help of Michelle at Thomas Cook, to find a short trip to Badala Park that fits the pocket. She even tolerated our (well, my) shameless attempts to scrounge extra baggage, children's clothing, reading glasses, medication - all the things that are worth their weight in gold in Sub-saharan Africa. We'll be able to see how the building work at the school is going and to visit the students we sponsor and inspect their college and school reports.
Most important of all, we'll visit the many friends we've made over the years and enjoy their hospitality and swap chat about our families.
Not been to The Gambia? Please consider a visit - yes, it is a third world country but it can teach us a lesson or two about respect for other people, and how to enjoy life.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Urgent Invitation to Contribute

The out-goings of G.O.E.S. are in danger of exceeding the in-comings! This is not a good state of affairs. We will have to content ourselves with funding our existing projects, and reluctantly have decided to decline to taking any new commitments until the financial situation improves. We are very sorry about this, and we know that many people will be disappointed.

If you would like to, for example, fund a talented high school student through college we can put you in touch with one. We recently had an application for funding a nurse through her second year at uni, and from a young man for similar support for an IT Diploma course.

Please, we need your money! Well, the young people I've mentioned above are the ones who really need it. Can you help them, please?

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Not a pretty picture ...

It's pleasant to see lots of pictures of happy children but this time I feel I can't get away with that. Face facts, life in The Gambia can, at times, be tough. This little boy was not a happy chappy. Both his arms and his legs were covered in this horrible, irritating, rash. His parents had taken him to the clinic and to the pharmacy and enlisted the help of family and friends. There was no lack of concern, no lack of love. Perhaps it's become too easy for us, with a free at point of need health care system. But our National Health Scheme costs millions, billions, of pounds. Money that The Gambia just does not have. Thanks to your generosity and kindness, GOES was able to help. Just a matter of buying the right cream. Result, happy little boy and greatly relieved parents. Little acts of kindness work miracles.
Help is always needed. A talented teenager needs a new sponsor. An injured little girl needs an operation. A young woman wants to complete her diploma in IT. A family man, newly unemployed, needs assistance rebuilding his damaged home. A fatherless family needs a bag of rice ...We cannot help everyone who needs a helping hand, but we can and do help many desperate people.

Please help us.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Time to remind ourselves what GOES means?

A friend was kind enough to point out that there may be quite a few people who don't know what GOES is all about. Fair point! So," Gambian Occasional Emergency Support" may give a bit of a clue.
We are a micro-charity which can offer small sums of money, in The Gambia (West Africa) for:
  • Medical fees, examinations & drugs
  • School fees and extra tuition
  • Cost of school uniforms, shoes & bags
  • Help with house repairs
  • Dental fees
  • Emergency transport costs (hospital visits, for instance)
  • Supplies of mosquito nets, mobile 'phones, books to schools and equipment to clinics
Having said this, tomorrow there may well be a request for some other need!

Who are we? We're Joyce and Tom Ireland, retired, together with family and friends, local shop-keepers, neighbours - and, from time to time, total strangers. There are many good people in the world, and they far outnumber the baddies!

Joyce and Tom are the registered trustees of the charity, which is recognised by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs for Gift Aid (XT 7385). This enables us to claim back any Income Tax which has been paid on donations. It in creases GOES' income by 25%, and is of vital importance to the work we can do.

Where does the money come from? Gifts & donations, in cash and in kind*, from the people mentioned above. We tithe our income to the charity.

*We accept gifts of medical supplies, text books, reading glasses, mobile 'phones, lap-tops, tin-openers, sewing needles - anything we can carry! Thomas Cook have been more than generous, allowing us an extra 40kg of luggage on our last trip!

We promise that everything, money and goods, that we are given goes to needy people in The Gambia. We pay our own expenses, at home and abroad, ourselves.

Why do we do it? Not for any religious or political reason. If we have ever needed help we have been fortunate enough to receive it. We can't do everything, but we do what we can. I'm a firm believer in the old saying 'If you have a kindness shown, pass it on.'
It has brought us some lovely friends, and that's reward enough.

Thanks for reading this far!

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