Blogs from Gambia, Africa - page 3

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Africa » Gambia » District of Banjul » Banjul September 1st 2012

A year ago today I was on a plane on the way to The Gambia trying to persuade myself that everything was going to be fine; that I wasn’t mad for wanting to leave my family, friends and job behind to come and live in some unknown middle of nowhere for a pittance. Now in two days time I’ll be heading back home. To say it’s been an amazing year is a bit of an understatement. I had no real expectations when I came out here because it was too difficult to imagine. All I wanted was to vaguely like the place and not feel homesick all the time. The job has had its ups and downs but I’ve met some fantastic people that have made everything worthwhile. I’m almost as scared to go home as ... read more

Africa » Gambia » District of Banjul » Banjul August 31st 2012

I have now completed my first week in the hospital here at the MRC. It's really nice and everyone is really friendly. There is a main consultant whose specialty is paediatrics but he looks after the whole hospital. When I say hospital it's a bit of an overstatement, there are 3 wards, a paediatric ward with 17 beds, a female ward and a male ward with about 10-12 beds depending on the number of admissions. The wards are simple, each bed is a single bed and a bedside locker. There is no wall oxygen or anything like that and no electric monitoring. There is one electric BP machine for the whole of the hospital, a definite contrast. The only thing that I think the hospital does better than the UK is the space that it leaves ... read more

Africa » Gambia » District of Banjul » Banjul August 28th 2012

So I'm here. I arrived at 2:50am which was fun to 28 degree heat plus ridiculously humid air but I got here in one piece. I managed to mess up my timing spectacularly by not realising that Gambia is one hour behind BST so the first thing I did when I got into the airport was to make sure mum knew that I was ok and that the time was slightly different or else she would be worrying. Passport control took forever but was pretty simple. No visa needed just need to rememeber to go back after 28 days and get my passport restamped. Getting the luggage was fairly simple too but what came next was quite something. After collecting my luggage I joined a queue...at first I couldn't see why I was queueing but then ... read more

Africa » Gambia » District of Banjul » Banjul July 24th 2012

It’s been almost a week since I left Basse. I’m not sure where the time has gone. It always seems to go faster here in Kombo. I had very mixed emotions about leaving. Lamin came up on the Tuesday and I spent most of Wednesday packing up my little house. I managed to hold back any tears until Adama, my lovely little friend, came into my room and gave me a length of material with some little plastic earrings and a ring wrapped up in it. My last night was a bit all over the place. We’d planned to cook for the whole compound, or rather I’d planned for Lamin to cook for the whole compound, but at around 3 o’clock Binta had some terrible news that her brother had been killed in a car crash ... read more
My last hug with little Sarah
My Gambian family

Africa » Gambia » Upper River » Basse Santa Su July 16th 2012

As I reach my last week in Basse I’ve been thinking of all the things I’m going to miss about the place. I have to admit I’ve been hard pushed to think of that many. I won’t miss hand washing my unddies, the unpredictable electricity, sand in my bed sheets and being woken up at the crack of dawn by a chorus of donkeys, chickens, dogs barking and children squabbling all to the beat of cous being pounded for breakfast. I definitely won’t miss people laughing at me on a daily basis because I’m not fluent in Fula, Madinka AND Wollof. I won’t miss sticking out like a sore thumb where ever I go and children shouting ‘toubab toubab’ at the very glimpse of me like they’ve got torrets and just can’t help themselves. In fact ... read more
The road leading to the market
The market where we buy all our vegtables
The road leading down to the river. The street to buy your buckets on.

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Africa » Gambia » Upper River » Basse Santa Su July 11th 2012

I will be leaving Basse in two weeks time as the schools will close on the 18th July so I’m making my final visits to the schools. This week I’ve been on trek with FIOH again but this will be the last time. I’ve been popping in to see my ECD classes but I’ve also been helping with the task of evaluating the teacher’s performance in phonics to see whether they will be certified by FIOH as a recognised SEGRA teacher (that’s the phonics scheme that FIOH train teachers in). As usual it was a task that managed to be equally encouraging and depressing at the same time. Some teachers are doing brilliantly, others, well lets just say there's room for improvment. It’s been a fairly eventful week. Usually I go around with only Cherno and ... read more
A farmer working hard
Children Gillangel School
Eleanor attempting to brew lait

Africa » Gambia » Upper River » Basse Santa Su July 11th 2012

I think I was on the telly last night! On Saturday we had the Region 6 Teachers awards and the event was featured in the evening news. I had to attend to present the award for best ECD teacher of the year. Over the last few weeks I and many of the other staff in the office have been verifying teacher’s nominations as I trekked around the schools. However, the actual oraginsation of the day happened in typical Gambian fashion i.e. there’s plenty of time to get things done... don’t worry about it... oh god it’s tomorrow, we’d better get something orgainsed. I’d been out of the office all week trekking with FIOH so I managed to pretty much stay out of the way of things but poor old Eleanor was stressed to death with it. ... read more

Africa » Gambia » Upper River » Basse Santa Su June 13th 2012

Work has been busy lately. I’ve done my workshops. I think they were moderately successful if not slightly frustrating.Most of the teachers responses were to complain that they had never had training in early years followed directly by requests to finish early or ‘I need to go out to drink water/answer this phone call/go for a wander around’. I thought the activities I did were relatively simple but they really struggled with some of them. The idea of planning an activity to do every day but making it a little bit harder towards the end of the week totally baffled them and you should have seen their faces when I said big sticks shouldn’t even be in the classroom even if they were to only threaten children with a beating rather than actually using them. I ... read more
Acting like monkeys
The teacher's transport to the workshop. I doubt there's anything express about this van.
The road from Kumbija

Africa » Gambia » Upper River » Basse Santa Su June 12th 2012

My house has been painted pink. I mean really pink! When I got back to Basse Amadou, who is, and see if you can keep up with this, Tako’s son who is Fatou and Binta’s husband and Adama and Esther and a few more children around the compound’s, Dad. He lives in Spain and came back for a two week holiday. It was all go in the compound with him around. They had a serious spring clean which went as far as a total redecoration of all the rooms in the house and the outside of all the buildings, the big house, Makoly’s little house, mine and the kitchen. Now the whole compound is pink. Pink pink pink! I love it! I’ve always wanted to live in a pink house. When I go down to Kombo ... read more

Africa » Gambia » District of Banjul » Banjul May 17th 2012

On the 20th April my great friends Lilli and Kebba got married. It seems ages ago now but I’ve been home for a holiday since then so I’m just catching up. It was a proper Gambian affair which was worlds away from the weddings we have back at home. The day started very relaxed with our favourite breakfast of nebe (beans in bread with onions) with both of them round at their house. There’s none of this bad luck for seeing each other before the ceremony. Lilli and I then went back to my flat to get all dolled up. Lilli had two outfits; one which Kebba’s sister had given to her for the day time and one that she’d had specially made for the evening. Hair and makeup done and outfits squeezed into we went ... read more
The ceremony
The exchanging of the cola nuts and the all important Fanta
Kebba and his Dad




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