Blogs from Basse Santa Su, Upper River, Gambia, Africa


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.

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 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 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 » Upper River » Basse Santa Su May 17th 2012

So I’m back in Basse again after a long stay in Kombos and a two week holiday back at home. I was really keen to get back to get on with my work and see my compound family again though dreading the infamous heat. I was lucky enough to get a lift up along with Lilli and Kebba in one of the Tostan vehicles (the organisation that Lilli works for). The landscape along the way is looking incredibly dry after 6 months without rain. The land is very bare with all the crops apart from the trees either dieing back naturally or burnt in bush fires. The poor cows look starved. We took the south road meaning we avoided the dreaded Banjul ferry and we also got to experience the beautiful new road that is fully ... read more

Africa » Gambia » Upper River » Basse Santa Su March 8th 2012

Way back in October when I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do with myself at work I wrote some emails to charities that distribute second hand books to Africa. One of them got back in touch saying there was a possibility they could help. I kept meaning to chase this up but it was one of those things that seemed permanently stuck at the bottom of my to-do list and I never got round to it. Last week I was called out of my office as someone was here to see me. Low and behold there was a van there with a delivery of five big boxes of books. Good ones as well; mainly proper early reading books. Last Thursday was Eleanor’s (the new VSO volunteer who has come to ... read more

Africa » Gambia » Upper River » Basse Santa Su February 26th 2012

Today I had my first Gambian cookery lesson. I’m a bit ashamed how long this has taken me. We made choo with fish. No, it’s got nothing to do with a nasty sneeze, ha ha! It’s a spicy onion stew type thing that is served with either meat or fish or sometimes fish balls which is pounded fish, bones and all, made into meatball type things (they’re nicer than they sound). I think choo has become my favourite dish or ‘my choice’ as the Gambians would say, overtaking domada even. Hopefully I was actually a little bit of a help and didn’t get in the way too much. I did manage to get covered in soot which everyone found very amusing. I would probably be more help if I stopped taking photos while I’m doing it ... read more
The preparation area
Mmmm tasty!
Dishing up

Africa » Gambia » Upper River » Basse Santa Su February 23rd 2012

Lilli and I decided that on Tuesday this week it would be a good idea to cook pancakes for my compound, it being Pancake Day and all. At the weekend we went to the market to buy the ingredients but left the eggs to buy till Tuesday so they would be nice and fresh. Big mistake apparently. On Tuesday we were all excited at the prospect of pancakes with spready cheese, onion and tomato followed by more pancakes with bananas and chocolate spread only to find out that Basse had completely run out of eggs. Of all the times! Usually eggs are the one thing you can reliably get. After searching all over the town Pancake Day had to be cancelled. We found out that the delivery from Senegal had all been rotten so the whole ... read more
Mmmm chocolate spread

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

Things are plodding along nicely here. I don’t feel like I have that much to write about these days as life has seemed to settle down and I’m feeling more at home here. Work is picking up and I finally feel like I have things to do which is great. I stopped counting how many weeks I’ve been here which is surely a good sign. It must be because last week I told VSO that I’d like to extend my placement for another six months. Crikey! What am I letting myself in for! I would be due to come home in July but if all goes well I’ll be staying until at least Christmas. It’s all a bit up in the air at the moment though. There are lots of changes happening within VSO and they ... read more
Grades 5&6
the cooks preparing rice for the school dinners
the kitchen

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