Monday, 28 October 2013

When do we say 'Good-bye' ?

Been thinking (yes, I know it's dangerous!) about how and when we cease to work with GOES. The charity is, in a sense, our baby - we conceived the idea, cherished it, watched it grow, became quite proud of its achievements ... and then we grew old and it became hard work!
 We have to accept that at some time we will be physically unable to travel out to The Gambia a couple of times a year, and I feel that now is the time for us to decide what to do! Our main concern is the future of the many children we support - and the living conditions of their parents. Only this week we have heard of the deaths of a very young child and of the father of a young woman whose education we sponsored. These people have become part of our extended family and their lives are interwoven with ours. I don't know the answer; I do know we must try to find it. Sometimes being 77 is great; sometimes it's not!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

We're home!

Hi; home again after our travels. We'll take a few days off to recover from dashing round Turkey - a lovely country - and recover from the effects of different food on our tummies! Seats booked for next trip to The Gambia but all we need now is sleep!
Best wishes and goodnight,
May the world sleep well!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Travel time

Every now and again we don't go to The Gambia! Shock and horror! Just for a change we're travelling in Turkey, where we have never been. It feels that I'm being disloyal to The Gambia but I hope it's not; Travel broadens the mind. A different place with people who may speak a different language but who, I expect, will be similar to us - concerns about education, the future of their children, worries about employment and making a good home for the family. We're all the same at heart, I think. So, my Gambian friends< I expect that we will be out of touch for a week but I promise you won't be forgotten. The Gambia is my second home.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The kindness of strangers

It's the time of year again when strangers (and friends too!) give mysterious lumpy bags to us - 'Are you going to The Gambia again? Yes? Do you think this might come in handy?' - and they present us with bulging carrier bags full of reading glasses and baby clothes and unused medical equipment and medicines.
Slowly the spare bed and the floor around it are covered - how can we take it all? This year Thomas Cook haven't replied to our appeal for an extra baggage allowance so it's going to be a problem.
The medical stuff goes to the clinics and hospitals - we're not medically qualified to decide who needs whatever, we leave that to local doctors and nurses. The reading glasses go the clinics too. The text books go to students and the reference books go to schools and the baby clothes go to, erm, babies!
We'll put off packing till the last minute; T.C. may well come good! We've booked the flight, found a room at Badala Park hotel - our favourite place to stay.
Thanks for all your help - we're counting the days!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Commonwealth and Lampedusa

I've enjoyed watching my friends celebrate Commonwealth Day in past years, and as a visiting Englishman it has helped me reflect on the wrongs that have been done to this tiny African country which I love so much. To witness the proud and friendly citizens of The Gambia celebrating Independence day has emphasised that the country has moved on from the days of exploitation and slavery with a good grace that many Europeans would have difficulty emulating.
 GOES will still help Gambians with emergency support whenever possible. We're a small charity and sometimes we sadly have to say 'Sorry, we can't help this time.' For example, we can't buy you a sheep to help celebrate Tobaski or other festivals. But recently we've helped a families cope with invalidity, house fires, rebuilding after the rainy season, school fees and dental expenses. Like hundreds of other small charities we do what we can.
 So, back to the title. Where does Lampedusa come into all this? Well, once again there's been a terrible disaster off the coast of that small Italian island. A boat crammed with refugees has caught fire and sank, causing the deaths of hundreds of men, women and children. I have always admired the courage and determination of people who leave their homes and set out on a journey of thousands of miles across unknown country to try and find a better life in Europe. I doubt I would have the courage to undertake such a journey. So many of those people meet with robbery, sickness or death when they undertake that journey. Some, a few, do make it and bravely look for employment so they can send money home to their families. Sadly, more do not; even if they survive the journey they may be arrested, interned, then returned to their home land poorer but perhaps wiser.
 GOES tries, in its own small way, like many other charities to help improve life for people in their own villages.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Fire and Malaria

Hello again. I think I mentioned that money doesn't sit in our bank for long; well, the last donation didn't! The kind people from an office in Tunbridge Wells sent a cheque to GOES and that money was on it's way to The Gambia today! (Wish I was going with it!)
 We heard from a very trusted source that there had been a serious fire in a Gambian home; thankfully nobody was hurt but a great deal of damage was done to the interior, bedding and clothing. Candles give a lovely light but it's fire!
 About the same time (yesterday) we also heard from a family in another village that there was severe sickness and we were able to send help today to both families.
 I'm also happy to report what may the end of the Co-op Bank saga; after six weeks' delay we again have access to the GOES account - just in time to offer the help detailed above. Coincidence?
Thanks for reading - the blog has well over 5,000 visits now!
Best wishes,

PS - I received some pictures of the fire damage but in my attempt to load them onto this blog they vanished! If I do manage to recover them I'll try again ...