Wednesday, 31 December 2014


G.O.E.S. wishes everyone of you, irrespective of colour or creed, a very, very, Happy New Year: may you all enjoy long life, good health and happiness. May peace, and freedom from famine and disease, fill your hearts and minds with joy. Thanks to our many friends in Gambia and in England for your support and encouragement.
Joyce and Tom.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

We're back!

There is no Ebola in The Gambia. Not a sign of it - so why are the hotels nearly empty? We stayed at our usual haunt - more staff than guests! The flight going out was cancelled and passengers transferred to the next 'plane - same on the way home and with seats to spare. The Gambians are suffering, not from some vile disease but from our fear of it. Many employees depend on tips to supplement their wages; tips are essential to enable, for instance, them to travel home late at night by taxi and to return to work the next day - apart from buying food to feed the family (one of my friends supports 16 family members on a tiny wage), pay the rent, pay school fees for the children, pay health care costs ... GOES helps many people - 66 students, two schools and a clinic at the last count but the country needs you! Just go and lie on a sunbed for a week and you'll provide employment. Travel about a little, ask to visit the home compound of your waiter/room boy/the gardener and see how people really live. You'll be safe, you'll be fed - you may even be offered a bed for the night. The generosity of the local people knows no bounds - does yours?
Sorry for the rant.
No, I'm not.

PS - there is no Ebola in The Gambia ...

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

A bit about GOES

It's a bit arrogant to assume the whole world knows about GOES!
So: GOES (Gambian Occasional Emergency Support) is a charity, registered for Gift Aid with Her Majesty's Revenue and Excise & Customs No. XT7385.
We aim to help people in need who live in The Gambia, West Africa. We help with school fees, health care, food, medical supplies. We have put roofs on storm damaged houses, brought fresh water to a village clinic, paid the wages of cleaners, helped students with school and college fees, given grants to seriously ill patients enabling them to travel abroad for treatment. We've been doing this for the last 12 years.
Why do we do it? Because we can and it needs doing.
What do we get out of doing it? A lot of headaches and a great feeling when something goes right!
We also have the pleasure and privilege of meeting wonderful people, and learning much about life from them, both here and there.
What don't we get out of it? Any form of financial reward. We pay all our own expenses - travel, accommodation, running costs and no, we do not gain any income from the charity! If you donate a pound or a penny you can be sure that 100% of that money goes asap to some one in need of it.
Next week we are taking medical instruments, donated by our local doctors and nurses, to the Victoria Teaching Hospital, in Banjul, and to Mandinari Village Clinic. The clinic has already received a donation, given by friends, to equip it with a wide range of anti-bacterial gels, gloves, wipes etc. There is no case of Ebola in The Gambia at the moment but it's as well to be prepared.
We're taking funds on behalf of another friend to equip a village school with educational materials - and pay the teachers.
We will, if past trips are anything to go by, come home exhausted and ready to sleep for a week.
Sorry - rant over!
Best wishes,

Monday, 10 November 2014

Fingers crossed - it's going well!

Difficult typing with crossed fingers! We've arranged that the village clinic can have an adequate supply of anti-bacterial wipes and gel and gloves for the staff and hope soon to repeat the order for the patients. I think I've managed the on-line transfer system for sending money - well, it's worked once! Our friendly pharmacist keeps giving reliable advice so we feel well supported in these medical matters.
 We expect to collect our travel documents sometime this week, after a little difficulty concerning arriving at the hotel a day before the booking started ... what can go wrong? Just a little matter remaining about being able to pack all the goodies we've been given - medical stainless steel instruments weigh a ton!
Can't wait to be there - so many friends to see. This blog seems to be gaining interest - seventy-plus viewers one day last week!

Monday, 27 October 2014

A day in the life of ...

... an old volunteer man!
Wednesday of last week we received a call for help from the family of a very poorly lady. Bus into town, draw the money, take it to B's Bank and pay it into the Bayba a/c. Or so I thought! Usually pay in over the counter to a human. This time, bank very busy so I decided to use the 'quick deposit' technology. Old man + new technology = dog's breakfast. Sure I'd done the right thing and I'm back on the bus for home. Call Bayba in UK, they accept the transfer, give me the transaction number which I text to the family of the poorly lady. They try a couple of times to collect from the local office in The Gambia but without success. Transaction number fine but money hasn't arrived. Spend most of Friday and Monday morning on the 'phone without being any wiser so this afternoon into town again and into the bank, where a lovely lady (L) sorts it all out without calling me names! Money paid directly to Bayba and collection arranged for tomorrow morning.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Sorting scissors ...

Just a normal Sunday - cycle to the paper shop, buy paper, remember to pick up some yoghurt, cycle home, read paper.
 Remember a sack full  of medical equipment that needs sorting. How many types of scissor-like things can there be? Tip them out onto the bed and start 'sorting'. No two of the blessed things are the same. Some are a bit the same, or look it. But they're not! Some cut things but have different blades or handles. Some clamp together but don't cut. Some .... I give up! Consulted Google and tried to match 'scissors' to pictures. Probably not a good idea - pictures are labelled 'Kelly' or 'Hu-Friedly' or 'Venous' or 'Needle drivers' or 'Adso Tissue' or 'Hemeostatic' or ....
 Give up! Wrap them all up in clean cloth, pop them into Ziploc bags and into the first suitcase. Ten kg of shiny scissors. People in the clinics and hospitals in The Gambia will know exactly what they are for.
 There's another sack full of stainless steel things. I'll leave that till tomorrow!
Sold four 'Malinding' books yesterday - thanks to the buyers! Money goes straight from Amazon into the GOES bank account, where it won't stay for long!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Going to The Gambia!

Well, we hope we'll be going, and if we are, these are some of the things we've been given to take with us! As you see, mostly medical equipment for the clinics we support. Scary looking stuff some of it is!

The last picture is the usual shot of the spare bed - mainly a few reference books, children's clothing and bags and bags full of reading glasses! We usually manage to take out a few bits and pieces for ourselves - a change of clothes, that sort of thing; sadly, Thomas Cook haven't managed to extend our baggage allowance this year so if we want spare clothes we'll have to wear them on the journey out!
All in a good cause.
Best wishes to all of you,

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Never rains but it pours!

Good things are raining down - please stop! We don't often ask people to stop giving, and if you're one of the people who have already promised us things we don't mean you! Our lovely friendly pharmacist, who has been advising us for years, is helping with our preparations for equipping the clinic with stacks of latex gloves and hand wash lotions. Our local medical centre called me in today, and after a brief moment of confusion at reception (they don't often come across people who don't want treatment ...) we were presented with stacks of stainless-steel instruments which will assist in gynaecological procedures - looks scary to me! I also called at our local Salvation Army centre to collect a gift of reading glasses organised by Stuart. They must be there somewhere so I'll call again when they come to light!
People are so good and kind. Fingers crossed the Ebola is soon under control; too many lovely people have died already. I don't understand why people have to go to war against one another when there's a war against poverty and disease waiting to be won.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Short break, now back to work!

We've been on a short bus trip to France - we needed a break! Met some delightful people and saw some lovely places. Came home tired but refreshed!
Came home to a very nice surprise - some people we met at one of J's History groups not only had listened to us very patiently but also sent a very generous cheque which goes straight into the GOES bank account. Regular readers can guess it won't stay there for long; we'll soon find work for it to do!
During the days before our little holiday we had sent funds to a family to pay for their granddad's medical care, school fees for another family, help with an irrigation project, wages for a couple of teachers and support staff  and I had managed to write another couple of chapters for the latest 'Malinding' Kindle ebook (with the hope that it will be a best seller. All proceeds go to GOES!)

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

A good start to the day!

Before I was properly awake this morning (half-way through the porridge and only one cup of coffee ...) a very cheerful voice on the 'phone from our local medical centre - do we want a set of baby-scales to take to The Gambia?  They'll try to find some other first-aid stuff such as wound dressings too. A great start to the day!
 We've recently started to correspond with a chap who designs book covers - he's bought the first in the Malinding series (Empty Bananas) and he'll see how to improve on my homemade efforts ...
 We have more spectacles to pick up from the Salvation Army meeting house - thanks, Stuart, we've not forgotten.
 Been away from home for a few days and managed to write another 5k words for the latest book; still a long way to go!
 So, as the sun is shining we've decided to get the bikes out and go for a ride ...

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Fees and more fees

Well, we had to bite the bullet and pay Thomas Cook a large amount so that we could pack all the goodies we've been given to take to The Gambia. It's an amount we would rather have spent on buying a nursery school child education for a year, or rice for a poor family or cement to repair a storm-damaged house. Choices, choices. At least we're well stocked up with reading glasses - enough for the short-sighted population of a small village! We have a lot of dictionaries and medical books - heavy things, books! We had to clear the spare bed so our daughter wouldn't have to sleep on the floor when she visited and I was going to photograph it but it's buried again under all the things we have to pack and it's weeks before we go!
 There's a worry about Ebola fever in West Africa. The Gambia seems safe at the moment and we hope it will remain so, but African borders can be porous ...   fingers crossed but we'll keep an eye on reports. So sorry for the local populations; our efforts are so puny in such matters.
 We're away from home for a few days but we'll keep you posted.
best wishes,

Please keep buying the 'Malinding' books - the income goes to GOES!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Raise a glass?

Not really! But we could raise several hundred pairs of reading glasses which have been donated to GOES - some by Boot's Optician in Warrington (thanks, Steph) and more by Stuart, a friend in Blackpool on his way home yesterday. We had to clear the spare room because our daughter arrived to stay for a few days and her bed was occupied by three suitcases and twenty plastic bags full of books, medical supplies and reading glasses ...and the T-shirts and caps Thomas Cook donated.
In the meantime we've sent help for a roof repair, re-stocked a clinic's medical cupboard, paid for a scan of a pregnant lady (it's a boy). Thanks to all of you for your support - The Gambia's a great place to visit!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Not Good News!

First, the good news: Boot's Optician presented me with a huge bag full of reading glasses today; Stuart has some more which we hope to collect on Friday.
Now: a sad message from Thomas Cook - no free extra luggage allowance on the flight out when we next go to The Gambia! They have been so good over the last few years that we had, stupidly, come to expect it. We could, of course, buy an extra allowance but we try to spend as little as possible here because the money buys so much more for people there!
We will of course cut our own luggage to the bone but we do need the odd pair of clean pants (and a heap of medication too!)
Thinking caps on ...

PS - if lots of you bought lots of the 'Malinding' series of ebooks for Kindle we promise to put that money towards extra luggage ... just a thought!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Please leave your name and 'phone number!

Recently we've received several messages on our home answer 'phone from people who sound very distressed, asking for help From GOES. Our 'phone does not list callers' numbers if you're calling from abroad. Sometimes we can recognise a voice but because my hearing isn't perfect this doesn't happen often.
 Please, as the answerphone message states, leave your name and number, slowly and clearly. We had a call from a lady last night. She sounded very upset, but we have no way of getting back to her.

Friday, 1 August 2014

How it works.

How does GOES work, I hear you ask.
Well, something like this. Let's suppose that K, our local representative, visits a village clinic and finds that they are running short of medical supplies (not unusual). K sends me a text.
It so happens that P, a neighbour of mine, manages to sell a bike bag, which I'd forgotten about, and gives me the proceeds. On the same day, H, who was running a course we'd hoped to attend but hadn't (due to upset tummies) very kindly refunds the cost of the day we'd missed. We protest that it wasn't her fault but H insists that we take the money and donate it to GOES. Suddenly GOES has the funds to restock a clinic three thousand miles away.
We put the money into GOES bank a/c*, take it out again, deposit it with BAYBA via Barclays' Bank, telephone BAYBA to obtain a code number which we text to K in The Gambia. K visits the local branch of BAYBA, collects the money and takes it to the clinic and hands it over to M, the nurse in charge, who then shops for the urgently needed supplies. All sorted within 24 hours.
K keeps a copy of the receipts to show us when we return to visit the village - hopefully in December.
All money donated to GOES goes to GOES! There is no deduction of any sort for 'expenses' of any kind.

* so we can show the 'footprint' of the money if needs be.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Tummy bug

We generally survive delights such as 'Banjul Belly' when we venture abroad - maybe a couple of days when we work from the hotel so as not to be too far from a toilet! I've just wasted a week here at home while a nasty little tummy bug has dictated where I can go (nowhere!) and what I can do (you don't want to know!)
 Unable to operate GOES bank account in the usual way (visit Co-op Bank, withdraw money, take money to Barclays Bank and deposit in the BAYBA account, come home and make a couple of 'phone calls and the person in need receives the money the same day) I decided to go in for the On-line Banking Option. I thought I understood the system ... I was wrong. It did eventually work, I think: I'm still waiting the hear that the person who needs it has actually collected the money. Because this was my first time I made a series of mistakes which puzzled the banks involved and left me tearing my hair out!
 Thanks for staying with this - back soon!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Here we go again!

Well, not just this minute - late October! We've booked flights and hotel (the usual one) and we're collecting things to take. We collected some T-shirts and hats while we were in the travel agent's shop this morning! Well done, Thomas Cook people, many thanks.
Stories for Gambian Children is on Kindle free offer for a few days (15 - 19 July 2014) because I heard there's a shortage of stories for ethnic groups and this little book has several examples of Gambian children setting a good example (just as they do in real life).
We're out tonight to a meeting of story-tellers and poets at the Blue Cap in Sandiway. They're a generous hearted group and have done much good by providing money for wheelchairs and operations and stocking village clinics and schools ... we'll see what tonight brings.
Thanks for reading,

Thursday, 10 July 2014

I can see clearly now!

Collected my new glasses from Boots - ready a week early. The lady who made sure they fitted me, Steph, went the extra mile by promising to try to load me up with a collection of reading glasses for the Gambian clinic we support. She's also bought one of the 'Malinding' ebooks to support GOES funds (Hope she likes it and doesn't find it too shocking!)
 Every day another step forward - thanks, Steph!
Best wishes,

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Busy days for GOES!

I went for an eye test yesterday. Chatting to the optician about what I do for a living I happened to mention GOES. Can't think how it happened! As a result we've been offered a large number of reading glasses which we'll deliver to one or more of the clinics, added to the number our good friend Stuart has coaxed from the inhabitants of Blackpool. At least we can promise the donors that they will go to good homes! (The glasses; we hope the inhabitants of Blackpool already have good homes ...)
 Another chance remark, this time at Vale Royal Writers' Group (have you seen their latest Anthology, Under the Red Umbrella, available on Amazon Books and which would make a wonderful present for readers) ... what was I saying? Oh, yes, chance remarks about the shortage of ethnic stories for children! Stories for Gambian Children is available as a Kindle E-book and features Gambian children as the heroes and heroines of its stories. End of commercials!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Wish we were there!

Wish we were in The Gambia again! Or is it now just 'Gambia' ? Whatever, the welcome will be just as warm, the smiles just as wide - as will ours! Come on readers - try a visit! Be warned - some many people find one visit isn't enough; we must have been at least 30 times ...

Just one visit changed my life, and I've never regretted it. I suppose you could spend all your holiday by the hotel pool and eat only familiar English food. So many people think that, then find a friendly Gambian invites them to try the local food and the local fruit; then, perhaps the holiday-maker ventures out to the local market - maybe one of the hotel staff offers to accompany them while they travel in a local taxi. Then, maybe, there's an offer to visit a village compound and share a meal ... and before you know it, you're planning the next visit!

Hi, Kotu and Bakau and Serrekunda and Mandinari and  ...  see you all again later this year!

Best wishes to all,
Tom & Joyce

Saturday, 28 June 2014

"Why do you do it?"

Not always the easiest question to answer. I was looking back through my jottings and came across this entry, about twelve years ago. It may give a clue about why we continue this work. Not happy reading.

"The darker side of life in The Gambia was brought home to me on my second trip. An elderly man who had been collecting fruit from a tall tree with the aim of selling the fruit to buy a cup of rice to feed his family, fell to his death a few feet from where I was standing. Our efforts to save him failed. He had been warned that the tree was unsafe, but he ignored the warning. The taxi I was using for the day was commandeered to take his body to the mortuary, and later that same day he was buried. Many people live a hand-to-mouth existence. Things we Westerners take for granted such as education, healthcare, clean water and support in time of hardship, are simply not available to many other people. At the time of this accident I was on my way to Mandinari village, where I was providing an English Language course for the school staff. I found on the first day that I was offered food and shelter for the duration of my stay. Setting up GOES to offer a little support was the least I could do."

Post this message I still feel the shock I felt that day, when a man, about my age, died simply from trying to feed his family.
Thanks for reading this,

Friday, 20 June 2014

GOES keeps going!

What have we been up to lately? Well, the Gift Aid arrived - thank you, UK Government! Quite a lot of it has been used already because we don't pile up money in the bank. If we have money it's our duty to send it to people and places in need.
We've helped a small school by paying the wages of a couple of members of staff.
We're paying for a young woman (her education had to pause while she had a couple of children) taking a crafts course at Brikama.
We sent support to a family when their mother died.
We paid the registration fees for a nurse who studies to become a midwife.
We have helped a couple of people develop their market gardens.
We have paid for the medical care of several people between the ages of 18 months and 80 years.
We have passed money on to a friend who is building a school.
We have paid school fees for young children to attend nursery schools.

We are running out of money again!
Please help - I noticed that 3 of you bought Malinding ebooks yesterday - or did one of you buy 3 books?
This is a good way to support GOES - and GOES supports people in need in The Gambia.
Thank you!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Another busy day

Well, busy if you include waiting as an activity! Waiting for a cheque from HMRC, that is.
Lots of interest in the latest book, 'Chasing Freedom Home' - please will some of you who now have a copy post a nice review on Amazon? If you do hopefully that will increase interest in other books in the 'Malinding' series and so make a welcome contribution to GOES funds!
 The next, and possible final, book in the series is now into its second chapter - about 3,500 words so far. We went to Gladstone's Library for the day - I took 4,000 words with me but I had read them aloud, in private, thank goodness, and I was far from happy with the result! So the scissors came out and there was a severe editing session this morning.
 After lunch, with cake, the muse was a bit kinder and I've re-written several passages - hope they'll sound better.
 Best wishes to you all, and thanks for your interest.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

We're trying! (Yes, Stuart, we know!)

As mentioned, the Gift Aid application has been completed. It's a bit early to start watching the post but we are (watching the post).
Another day's work on the next book; a follow-up to 'Chasing Freedom Home' (still on free Kindle offer till the 10th of June).
We're selling a bike carrier on Ebay; a high proportion of the sale price will find its way to The Gambia. There are a couple of fund-raising bikes to be sold when they've had a good clean-up.
We're looking for donations of reading glasses and mobile 'phones, please.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Fingers crossed!

Finally managed to complete the Gift Aid claim on line - with the help of a very helpful person at HMRC. It kept bouncing back at me complete with ERROR messages. Turned out that I had to leave one box blank, even though it demanded filling! Then a little tweaking of spaces in postcodes and it was done. Think I'm going to frame the completion sheet ...
 We need the money - the GOES bank account is very nearly empty. We keep receiving requests for help and we will - as soon as we can. We already tithe our income and can't spare anymore. Please, buy a 'Malinding' Kindle book and help us back into the black (not us, GOES!)
 Anyway, fingers crossed for a speedy cheque from HMRC ...

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Free offer - 'Chasing Freedom Home'

As I promised a few days ago I have put 'Chasing Freedom Home' on free offer for my African friends. I've used your country, some of your names and a lot of your good weather to feature in this Kindle book! Only fair to let you have a free read! You can download it on your PC, laptop or tablet - Amazon have a free app which enables you to do this.
 The story warns what might happen if people in England refuse to vote at a General Election and by default a rabid racist, fascist party comes to power. Africa offers refuge to people escaping death camps and slavery and the characters of the 'Malinding' series of books come to the rescue!
 The free offer starts on Saturday 7h of June and ends on Tuesday 10th of June. I don't object if you wish to buy the book (and the others in the series!) before or after those dates because all the revenue from sales goes into the bank account of GambiaGOES and from there to The Gambia to fund education and health care.
 Best wishes from a rainy Warrington to a sunny Africa!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Seems I can't do three things at the same time ...

Ah, well! What did I expect? I wanted to 1) complete Gift Aid application - GOES urgently needs some money, 2) Start a new book and 3) have a holiday.
 Managed 1)  - but it took a lot longer than I expected. Failed to do it on line so requested the paper forms from HMRC who kindly sent half of the ones I needed..
Managed 2) - I've written the first 1,500 words of a new book, which I hope will sell well and make GOES rich enough to do all sorts of good things.
Also managed 3) - a few days spent with our daughter, eating good food and visiting new places.

All we need now is to sit back and wait for the money to roll in ... well, £15 of it rolled in from 'Easysearch' - a search engine which donates 0.5p for every time you use it and donates the money to a charity selected by the user - thank you, friends of GOES1 £15 is a lot of half pennies but you see how it mounts up.

I'm thinking of putting 'Chasing Freedom Home' on free offer for a few days so that friends in Africa, who the story belongs to, can have a chance of reading it. Obviously people in the wealthy West won't begrudge the charity its income from the sale ( $3 or £1.80 ) ! I'll let you (and facebook and twitter) know when the free offer takes place.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Sorry, Blog - I've been neglecting you!

But I have been busy, honestly! I'm tangled up with an application for Gift Aid on last year's donations; has to be done on line - and if you've been reading this blog for any length of time you'll have guessed that 'online' and 'Tom' are not happy partners! However, we're on the verge of success: I am now waiting 'ten working days' for a code number which will enable my user number to submit the detailed claim for the tax refund. Hopefully. Fingers crossed. Of course it will.
 Chasing Freedom Home, the latest Malinding village book, is tip-toeing into the sales on Amazon.
As soon as the rain stops J 7 I will go for a refreshing trike/bike ride (and cake and coffee) and all will be well with our bit of the world. Trouble is, of course, that so many bits of the world won't be well. Still, that's no excuse not to do what we can.
 Another thought, offered to me by a friend years ago: the main trouble with growing old is that you forget how absent-minded you were years ago!
 Where did I put the last receipt book for donations????

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Chasing Freedom Home

Chasing Freedom Home - yours, from Kindle ebooks, for $3 or £1.83!  (Sorry, I tried to rotate it but it kept insisting on reclining. Exhausting business, being published!

As you may guess from the cover, it's an anti-slavery book.
All income from sales go to GOES.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Chasing Freedom Home!

Chasing Freedom Home is the title of the latest 'Malinding' series of Kindle ebooks. I've just downloaded the text to Amazon and, fingers crossed, it should be available to buy ( $3) from this time tomorrow. As usual, income goes straight to the GOES bank account, where I hope it will soon be joined by the Gift Aid income from HMRC.
Where does the money go? To the Gambia - recently providing support for a very small boy to have an eye operation, to a young woman who, with your help, needed proper medical attention to discover that the lump she had found was not cancerous, and to support the family of a lovely old lady who died recently.
 We have just taken a little time off to play with our latest grand-nephew in the park, and enjoy singing nursery rhymes at full volume in the back of the car.
 I'll report again soon!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Next trip?

Some time ago I posted a picture of our spare bedroom, showing the bed covered with items people had donated to GOES and which we managed to pack and, thanks again to Thomas Cook's gift of extra baggage, deliver to needy people, clinics and schools in The Gambia. I should have photographer the empty space - it didn't last long! The room is filling up nicely again with donations of clothing for children, medical supplies, books - a neighbour gave a couple of dictionaries - reading glasses: the list goes on!
 Almost decided on the cover design for 'Chasing Freedom Home' - then just one more re-read and commit to Kindle (with fingers crossed). Mussukunda is so far the best seller of the series - it's a happy-ending story - so I'm a bit doubtful about the future of 'CFH' - it's an anti-slavery, dystopian novel.
 Almost ready to post-off (what's the on-line equivalent ?) Gift Aid claim; we need this to set GOES up for the next season.
 Best wishes,

Saturday, 19 April 2014

It's a 24/7 job!

Twenty-odd years ago, when we retired from the day jobs, I wondered how I would fill the rest of my life. J was already settled into her new life as a full-time student and I turned to voluntary work. Voluntary works means you do something you want to but don't get paid for. I enjoyed it immensely. The I lapsed into running GOES. The enjoyment increased by 100%, as did the worry about not being able to do more! J joined in too, having reduced her study a little after the third degree ...
 But there are no office hours - which is brilliant. For example, having finished the latest 'Malinding' series book, we thought we would have a relaxing visit to Gladstone's Library. Great idea; good food, good company and lovely surroundings. Quite true, but GOES was still with us! We left with a car full of beautiful clothing donated by a Library friend who had listened to us talking about The Gambia, and decided to help. Some will find its way to West African villages, some will be sold and the money raised will help to stock medical supplies for clinics.
 Still determined to relax we decided to get a new set of wheels for J. We've both been cyclists from the age of eleven (quite a while ago!) and J decided she might be safer on 3 wheels now. So, we toddled along to another beautiful location, the Juicybike showroom in New Mills. We played with an electric trike in the car park and decided to give it a new home. We also were given a set of panniers and a trunk bag (goes across the top of a set of panniers), all superb quality, to help raise funds for GOES. Many thanks to Bob Wales and Sarah (and all the Juicybike staff) for their support, and for the fact they are excellent people who know their trade and how to look after their customers properly.
 Back to work on Tuesday with the Gift Aid claim, the cover design of the book (Chasing Freedom Home) and selling the donations, probably on eBay, the gifts we've been given. None of the money we raise goes into our pockets - every penny and pound will go so improve the health or education of some one in The Gambia who needs help.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Another Malinding book finished!

Well, almost - it still needs a cover. I'm most attractive by the idea of a picture associated with the original Anti-slavery movement; 'Am I not a brother and a man?" - a chained slave, kneeling. If I can obtain permission to use the image I'd be delighted, because this book is about an 'underground railway' helping refugees escape from a totalitarian dystopian England. I've written to the Wilberforce Museum in Hull which houses the original picture, painted, I think, in 1777. Fingers crossed. Most of the writing was done at Gladstone's Library, in Hawarden, North Wales, not far from Chester. Worth a visit if you've not been there - a Library with 5* bed & breakfast accommodation!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Should a Birthday be a work day?

We're off to Gladstone's Library for a few days to help J celebrate her birthday. It's what sses for riotous living when you reach our age! We will be working for GOES of course while we're there - I'll be trying to complete 'Chasing Freedom Home' and together we'll be adding up all the money the charity has sent to The Gambia during the last financial year. We promise you that any donation you have made has used 100% for the purposes of the charity. We pay our own expenses - fares, accommodation, food and so on. We donate a tithe of our incomes to GOES and we claim gift aid on that amount (Gift Aid is a scheme which returns 25% tax to the Charity). That 25% sets GOES up for the next year. It really is very nice to get money back from the Government!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

To everything there is a season ...

And this was the season to be bone idle for a couple of days! We went to visit my daughter and be waited on hand and foot. It didn't quite work out like that because I decided that it was high time the latest book was finished! Didn't quite happen but the first draft is on paper - only numerous edits and re-writes and the design of the cover to worry about! GOES was presented with a very welcome cheque, which will be paid into the bank on Monday and immediately sent via BAYBA to help a young family in a small fishing village. So, the being bone idle intention didn't quite work but we had a most enjoyable few days together - apart from our host - hope you're better soon!
 The smog, laden with dust from the Sahara, might have been the prompt to finish the book?
Must find out about the copyright laws relating to 18th Century art work - 'Am I not a man and a brother?' It would make a great cover picture.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Well, what did we do with your money?

Just looking back over the notes we made during the week we were out there - and remembering that one day was lost because the country ran out of petrol! Here's a list of what we did with your money:
 Sad one first - we gave money to an old lady; her son has travelled to Europe to seek his fortune (he was lucky enough to survive the sea crossing to Lampedusa but was arrested and to the best of our knowledge is now in an internment camp). He was trying to support his mother, wife and children and is now unable to do so. We gave his mum cash to buy food for the family and medication for herself,, but we heard she died two days after our return home.
 Better news now - the young woman who was told she had breast cancer and travelled, with your help, to Dakar for treatment, discovered that she did not have a cancerous growth and, after a final check, is back at work supporting her family.
 The young lady who received a modern wheelchair is increasingly independent.
 The village clinic we support received gifts of medical equipment, supplies of over-the-counter drugs and money to buy prescription only medications.
 We met a young woman who is working 13 hours, seven days a week, fifty weeks a year,  to support her family, including a very bright twelve years old sister who wants to be a doctor. This child suffers from a severe version of Sickle-Cell Anaemia; we have been able to donate sufficient money to enable her treatment to be continued, possibly also in Dakar.
 The little boy with suspected cancer of the eye has also received treatment in Dakar and returned home. He has not lost the eye, though sight has been damaged. He has to return to the hospital for a final check.
 A 'hard working family' has received help to improve irrigation of their small holding and to purchase cement to re-inforce the walls of their home which was damaged in last year's rains.
 We continue to support a number of adult students studying nursing, business studies and IT courses.
Bags of rice and sacks of cement go to families in need, money for house repairs, books, clothing go to others.
 The boy who received treatment for a heart condition is a teenager now, anxious to catch up with the education he missed due to his condition. You helped him to continue his studies. You should have seen his smile!
 Our next job is to prepare a claim to HMRC for Gift Aid, which will of course go back into the GOES bank account to continue the work you so kindly sponsor.
 Thanks also due to those of you who have bought the Kindle ebooks in the 'Malinding' series from Amazon. That money goes directly into the GOES bank account and helps to fund the activities listed above.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

All in a week's work!

Honestly, we really do more than sit around chatting to our friends and eating delicious Gambian food. Sometimes we really are quite busy! But yes, we do sit around and chat! The art of conversation is alive and well and living in The Gambia. Everybody has a turn to speak and it's rare to be interrupted. I love this country; the eagerness for education, the kindness to strangers, the politeness of children and the gentle sense of humour.
 I'll deal with the work GOES did on this visit but for now I'm just enjoying memories and wishing I was back in the sunshine.
P.S. If you're waiting for a text from me I had better tell you I've lost my 'phone. Hope to find it soon ...
Best wishes, and thanks to all my friends for their help.

Monday, 24 March 2014

We're back!

Returned to UK about 06.00hrs. Just woken up. Reports later, but it all went well. I think ...

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Picture Books!

Free Ebooks!

The entire Malinding series - all 4 of them - Empty Bananas/Mussukunda/The Mechanical Girl and The Alkalo are on Kindle Books (Amazon) for 5 days on free offer. Stories for Gambian Children is there too. If you're familiar with The Gambia, or thinking of taking a holiday there they might be just the books you're looking for. Happy reading!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Good morning, Chinese reader!

I know a lot of our friends/readers live in the UK/America/Africa but  yesterday we had a hit from China! Welcome, sir or madam, we're happy to greet you!
As a late Christmas present we're offering all the Malinding series of books (the ones about an imaginary Gambian village) and Stories for Gambian Children, free on Amazon. They are ebooks, so you'll need a Kindle reader or you could just download the ebook reader app for use on your tablet/laptop/PC.
Happy reading!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Packing time again.

All being well we will soon escape the rain and head for Gambian sunshine. Thomas Cook again helped us to find a great deal, which means we can visit our West African projects. Our funds are down a little so we won't be taking on any new work but we're going to make sure that we keep promises made last time. The clinics and schools, together with the on-going medical care we've already embarked on will continue to be supported. As I've mentioned before, the hardest part of this job is saying 'no' to somebody who really needs help. Whenever that happens we try to find another charity which may be able to help. Over the past years we've found who we can trust ...
 We're waiting for TC's final decision on extra baggage but we do have room for more medical tackle - reading glasses, wound dressings, Paracetamol and so on. Talking about drugs we've had a problem obtaining out anti-malarials this year. For the last fifteen years or so we've toddled along to our local surgery, been checked over by a nurse, been given a prescription and received our tablets from a pharmacy; done in a day. This year the travel clinic has closed. We put in a request for a prescription - received a 'phone call - 'That's not the way we do it! Go to your pharmacy and ask to be examined there.' We made an appointment. The Pharmacist seemed to be surprised but took full medical history, put in a request to the surgery. His request was refused - he hadn't filled in the right form. He didn't know about this new form and the surgery didn't offer him one. He consulted the other pharmacists he knew; 'What form?'
 Back he went to the surgery - they had the form! He called me, we filled the form in - all the information requested was already in the medical records held by the surgery ... we're waiting the stipulated 48 hours to find out if this time we're lucky. Comment fails me - perhaps you can guess what I'm thinking?

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Do I want to change the world?

Sounds a bit ambitious! This question was asked at a recent writers' meeting held at Gladstone's Library where most of the Malinding series of books were written. It gave me rather a shock at the time but I've thought about it and I've decided that, yes, I do want to change the world!
Think back to your days at school; the bullies picked on what they thought were differences between children - red hair, perhaps, or perhaps some one who wore glasses or the 'wrong' type of clothes - and made their lives a misery. It occurs to me now that in fact people all over the world have far more in common than is usually thought. My friends of whatever colour or creed want to live in peace, provide their families with a home, enough food, and to manage to keep them healthy and educated. They want to be able to greet each new day with a smile and know where the next meal is coming from.
 It seems that our politicians want something different - power. Yesterday's paper - The Guardian - had a centre-page spread showing that Britain has been at war, somewhere in the world, every year for the last hundred years. Surely that's a record to be ashamed of?
 My books try to show people in my two favourite countries living at peace with one another. 'Empty Bananas' has an old, sad, white man finding love and a reason for living in Malinding village (which, as I often point out, does not exist but it might do!); 'The Mechanical Girl' is a story about an uneducated girl who achieves great things and sets about improving the world in her own way; 'Mussukunda' is a story about a middle-aged, unemployed white woman who changes the world (and her life), by volunteering to work in a refuge for women; 'The Alkalo' is the story of a woman - the lady who married the sad white man mentioned a few lines above - and rises to a position of great responsibility in her village (no prize for guessing the name of the village ...).
 The book I'm working on at the present is intended to show the truth of the saying "for evil to flourish it is only necessary for good men to do nothing" and tells the story of how a tiny nation saves civilisation by acts of kindness. I like my books to have happy endings!
 Rant over. Thanks for putting up with me for so long.
Best wishes,

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Actions or words?

I seem to have grumbled on about cafes which are writer unfriendly just a bit too much perhaps. Maybe I should just get on with the writing? I've been spoiled by having the use of three wonderful writer-friendly cafes in the past. First, Borders Bookshop in Warrington. Somehow, it was just right (write?). Friendly, full of interesting people (not only writers) and sympathetic to GOES - the collection box was always full.
 Next, Hatter's Café, in Hatter's Row, Warrington. I was so very sad to see it close. The staff, and many of the customers, had become friends and were interested in GOES and the work it does in The Gambia. Hatter's too provided a home for another collection box - which in turn provided education for many Gambian children and medical care for their parents.
 Finally, of course, the place where much of the 'Malinding' series of Kindle books have been written, Gladstone's Library at Hawarden in North Wales. If you haven't yet discovered this delightful place Google for it. William Gladstone, four times Prime Minister, gifted his own library to the Nation, so that books without readers and readers without books may be united. It's only disadvantage - I've already written pages about its advantages - are its distance from home and the expense of getting there. Remember, I'm trying to raise money, not spend it!
 So, the search goes on. At least, it's an excuse to drink coffee and eat cake, and it does get me out of the house! The search goes on - but I have managed to write a few hundred words here at the desk in our spare room at home!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Research - hope it produces results!

Our favourite café has closed (fellow writers will understand the importance of have a comfortable place to write!) and the search begins to find another place which provides good coffee and cake, tables large enough to hold the coffee and cake and a laptop (and a socket to plug it into) and a couple of reference books - and without canned 'muzak' blaring out. The management of the shop should also be willing to let GOES have a collecting box on view. 'Hatter's Café' was perfect in all respects and we are sad that it's closed. The friendly staff were a delight to meet and we wish them well in their search for new jobs.
 Our visit at the weekend to Gladstone's Library produced 2,737 new words for the fifth Malinding book, good cake and coffee but as the Library is itself a Charity we can't expect them to display our collecting box - and it's a bit too far to drive to every day.
 We visited another café in a large chain store yesterday - if had large enough tables but everything else was terrible! The research continues ...
 On a more immediate front we continue to support the young woman who is having medical treatment, school fees for the youngsters have been paid, we have sadly had to decline help to several other people, even though they have good reason to request it - we just don't have the money. And we don't pay out for shopping sprees in Senegal either!
 We're co-operating with the humanitarian aid of another organisation which operates in The Gambia, and we're going begging among our friends for more reading glasses, first-aid stuff and mobile phones.
 Thanks for reading my ramblings again!
Best wishes,

Monday, 27 January 2014

Sad day - and not just the loss of income!

Our favourite coffee shop, the independent one upstairs at Hatters Row, in Warrington, is about to close. During the past twenty years we have taken coffee (and, too many times, cake!) at least once or twice weekly. We have made friends with many fellow customers and with all the staff. What has this to do with GOES? Well, for at least nineteen of those years a collecting box has stood on a shelf near the entrance, covered in pictures of Gambian schools, children, clinics and damaged buildings. Into the box has gone several hundred pounds, donated by customers and staff, and those donations have gone to help people of all ages, from 2 days old to over 90 years. Children have been educated, mosquito nets have been bought, at least two wells have been dug - the list goes on.
 Kind people have willingly given their help to people they may never meet - though we keep encouraging them to visit The Gambia at least once. We know they would be made welcome. So, today, we emptied the box for the last time. It contained £9.31 (and somebody at the next table made that up to £10.00). We made out the last receipt, and added our thanks, on behalf of all our Gambian friends. Tomorrow I'll pay the money into the GOES bank account and, no doubt, very soon it will be transferred by BAYBA to help some person who needs our assistance.
Thanks to all of you who popped your change (and sometimes more) into that little wooden box with pictures on.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Bits and bobs ...

Trauma with new 'phone; still eating money. I request a refund from T-Mobile - refund arrives and vanishes next day! Borrowed an old phone from J and can't find out how to send messages. Download a C200 (!) manual and still can't find out how to send messages. Replace Sim card in new phone. More money vanishes! Is there a reliable PAYG brand? It needs to be fool/idiot proof!
 More help requests - salary for a new teacher at one school, a clinic needs an autoclave (would a pressure cooker do - we've got one of those! Gambians ring our land line but don't realise it doesn't retain the numbers of callers from Africa - please, please tell the answer phone your name and number slowly and clearly and we will call you!

Monday, 20 January 2014


We've heard from the young woman we helped with medical treatment if Dakar - she's fine; has to return to Senegal in 3 months for a check-up.
Still waiting to hear about the little boy with an eye problem.
We have provided help for a small-holder who wishes to improve the irrigation of his crops - the nearest water supply is a long walk away.
We've provided help for a lady who wishes to continue her education, and minor help for a few more.
Less importantly, though quite pleasing, the 'phone company which had been eating my money without allowing me to make/receive calls has give a full refund!
Best wishes to all,

Thursday, 16 January 2014


Wonderful invention, the 'phone. They don't seem to have got it quite right yet; I decided to dump my old Nokia, the small brick-like gadget that had served me well for about ten years, surviving being dropped, drenched in the wettest rain the The Gambia's rainy season could deliver (that's pretty wet, if you haven't yet visited GOES territory from July through to September!). I gave myself a present of an up-date which is supposedly able to take pictures and deliver them to blogs and web-sites within moments. It's lighter and smaller than the brick. Pity it doesn't do what it says on the tin/box. Yes, it takes pictures. Then it keeps them. I've been trying for the past three months to send the pics to this web. They don't arrive - somewhere, in outer space, there are pictures of clinics and hospitals and schools floating about, looking for a home. What the 'phone does do, and seems very good at, is costing me money. It leaks money. If I check the balance at the end of one day and then switch it off for the night then switch it on next morning the balance is lower. Somehow it has spent money while being switched off! Is it going out to all-night parties? Is it connecting to Amazon and buying ebooks? What is it doing?
Sorry about the rant - I like technology when it works, really I do!
Best wishes,

By the way, the fifth 'Malinding' book - Chasing Freedom Home - has reached 40 thousand words - half written.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Words make money - I hope!

I spent another pleasant day at Gladstone's Library in Hawarden, near Chester, yesterday. It's a wonderful resource for writers: desks to work at, food to eat (the cakes are tasty) and even beds to sleep in if you want to stay overnight!
As darkness fell I drove home with 2000 new words added to the latest book in the Malinding series. Just 20,000 more to go! This will be the fifth (and possibly the last) book in the story of life in a Gambian village, seen through the eyes of a mixed-race family. Malinding village exists only in my mind, as do the characters who inhabit it, and who travel between there and the North West of England.
The books are for sale on Amazon for Kindle readers. All money from the sales go directly into the GOES Co-op Bank account, and from there to help the humanitarian work of that charity in The Gambia. Much of the work of the charity which has been described in this blog has been funded, at least in part, by these works of fiction. So, imaginary people help real-world men, women and children: fiction becomes fact.
Back to cake - no! I meant back to work!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Senegal - a little progress.

Fingers crossed - the little boy we helped with a contribution towards his medical costs in the hospital at Dakar is making progress. His mother is with him.
We don't have an up-to-date report about the young woman who is in the same hospital (the girl who needed attention after discovering a lump in her breast) but as soon as we have any news we'll let you know.
Best wishes to these young people, and to all our friends, for good health and happiness in 2014.
T & J

P.S. - a big thank you to the person who bought 'Stories for Gambian Children' - the first sale of 2014!