PAGEANT - "Education is the future"
Pageant Gambia Trip April 2013 - Blog Posts
Pippa, Tina, Frances, Page and Rachel have been in The Gambia for a two weeks visit. Frances has made regular postings on thekeeping us up to date on their activities. This page contains a collection of these postings so you can see them all in one place. Frances and Rachel raised around £600 from sponsorship, when they lived for a working week on £1 a day for all their food and drink. [ ] This has paid for the materials they need for their art and other 'fun' lessons.
30 March 2012 - Greetings from The Gambia
Introducing the PAGEANT Team for April 2012 - Pippa, Tina, Frances, Rachel 'Page' and Rachel. We have lots planned for the next two weeks including school art and PE sessions, compound visits, a trip up-country, market trips, and catching up with lots of sponsored children, friends and of course, the fantastic PAGEANT Team.
Today, we were up exceptionally early to catch our flight from Gatwick. We had a good flight and were greeted at the airport by Wandifa, Abdoulie, Linda and Wandifa's beautiful children. On our way to the hotel we stopped off at Linda's to pick up some PAGEANT boxes, before enjoying a swim, cocktail and dinner by the pool. An early night was called for after a very long but great start to the trip!
31 March 2012 - Day 2
After breakfast we started the day by drawing and cutting out animal pictures from the children's book 'Rumble in the Jungle' ready for our arty trip to Humanity Nursery School on Monday. Next it was time for garden tool shopping! These had been purchased through the PAGEANT Gift Token scheme so we set off in search for a spade, rake, and 'cutter' (aka machete). After testing several of these we decided on our set, settled up and then headed to visit Abdoulie Touray and his family. Abdoulie is a fantastic gardener and has maintained his artemesia plants given by PAGEANT which, even after two years, are still doing a wonderful job of curing malaria sufferers in his community. We were treated to a delicious lunch of pine nut spicy domada which we enjoyed in the shade of a large mango tree.
Our final stop of the day was to visit Samboujang, a boy sponsored by PAGEANT, who at birth was born with feet that faced the wrong way. After his operation many years ago, his feet are still doing well and he enjoys playing football with his friends. There were lots of very excited children at his compound who very much enjoyed having their photos taken!
We are off to meet Linda and some older sponsored children for dinner tonight, in the restaurant where Sainey's brother Musa works. Looking forward to some yummy food and a relaxing evening.
1 April 2012 - Day 3 - the day of babies!
As it was April Fools day today, we decided to play a few practical jokes on Wandifa, to get him back for all the tricks he likes to play on us. We started the day with a super trick, pretending to struggle with a really heavy suitcase... Wandifa rushed to help and then discovered, after dragging it along the floor several metres, that it was actually filled with foam! This was the start of many tricks to come, making the day even better!
Our first stop of the day was to see Hawa and her husband Andre, and their beautiful baby Banna. There were lots of cuddles and arguments over whose turn it was to hold the baby!! Our next stop was to see the Manneh family for lunch at their compound where they served up a delicious chicken yassa, followed by fresh fruit and fruit juice. We caught up with what every member of the family is doing and discovered that Ramatoulie has recently been married and is expecting her first baby - very exciting! We were also treated to more cuddles from the newest Manneh baby. The work ethic of the whole family is still as strong as ever, thanks to various PAGEANT members who have supported them over the past few years. They were very pleased to receive some beautiful clothes donated by a colleague of Frankie and Page. Thank you Humera!
We drove back to the hotel where we prepared everything for the nursery trip tomorrow. After a very lovely dinner in the a la carte, we all fell into bed!
2 April 2012 - Day 4 - School number 1!
We have had a full on day! We headed to Humanity Nursery School in Farato this morning to do our first teaching session. We started off with the story of 'Rumble in the Jungle' with some songs and then set to with sponge printing and painting to make two large jungle displays for the classrooms. This was followed by an outdoor activity session involving hoops, balls and hop scotch which the children absolutely loved! Nursery 1 then used paint dabbers to create some colourful balloons for the classroom walls, whilst Nursery 2 had their first ever go at collage, using tissue paper and glue. It was a very messy morning but luckily we had taken aprons so the children didn't get covered in paint and glue! We finished off our morning with a rendition of 'Alice the Camel', the 'Hokey Kokey' and some goodbye songs. Great fun was had by all, and with all the equipment left at the school, we are hoping they will have many more fun sessions like they enjoyed today.
Leaving the school in very good spirits, we headed to meet student teacher Musa for a drink to give him all the photographs from the February Science workshops. He was very interested to hear all about teacher training in England, and looked forward to giving his peers the photographs. We then stopped off at Gambia College to deliver the certificates from the workshops and the PAGEANT letter of recommendation re who should be awarded the microscopy kits. On our way back, we called in to see a remarkable lady, Ida, and deliver sponsorship money for her two nieces, which was very gratefully received. We tasted some cashew fruit and explored her chicken pen before returning to the hotel for a quick swim before dinner. After a very competitive game of cards and a relaxing dinner at Billy's, it is now time for bed. Lots to do tomorrow!
3 April 2012 - Day 5 - A relaxing day
Today Pippa and Tina ran errands in the morning whilst Frances, Page and Rachel had a relaxing morning around the pool including taking part in water aerobics! In the afternoon we went to the market to look at fabrics and souvenirs and experience the hustle and bustle. Later the team went to Billy's for a drink before having a relaxing couple of hours at the hotel. We are off to The African Queen on the Senegambia strip for dinner later and then having an early night as it's an early start to catch the ferry to the North Bank tomorrow.
4 April 2012 - Day 6 - North Bank
Today we were up very early to head across the river to the North Bank. After some nifty parking from Abdoulie and some swift negotiating from Yankuba we made it on to the first ferry without too much trouble. After a very long (1 hour 40 minutes!!) windy journey we finally touched down on the North Bank, however it was not a wasted journey as Yankuba learnt the fine art of Su Doku!
After a delicious breakfast (at lunch time!!) we set of for Juffreh to visit Wandifa's brother Bakary and his family. There we gave the children some small gifts and caught up with the progress of all of the children. We were very lucky to receive some beautiful necklaces and huge thanks from the whole family.
Our hearts sank when we reached the port as we had just missed the ferry... however we kept ourselves amused by pretending to be the three wise monkeys, making friends with local goats, and making guesses as to when the next ferry would arrive. Thankfully the next ferry arrived in less than an hour and we managed the crossing home in good time. After a spot of dinner in the hotel, we all collapsed gratefully into bed!
5 April 2012 - Day 7 - Tourist day!
Today was tourist day and our first stop was the crocodile pool! Pippa and Tina stayed in Timbooktoo (local bookshop) for the morning whilst the rest of us set off to greet some friendly crocs. First we had a look around the museum which had some amazing tribal instruments, masks and photographs. Then we explored the park. We came across a cotton tree with roots so large that we managed to have a group photo inside! The cotton clumps growing on the tree were huge and very soft to touch. We saw some eucalyptus trees and an amazing vegetable garden. The crocodiles are free to roam around the park so you have to be on look out the whole time. When we came to the pool there were crocodiles of every shape and size. We all had a stroke- their scales were soft and cold underneath and we learnt that they like to sit very still with their mouths open - both to help cool down and to catch insects.
Next it was off to pick up Pippa and Tina and head to the monkey park, with peanuts in hand! The monkeys were beautiful and, once inside the park, we were able to feed them. They were very gentle and took the nuts straight from our hands. Some liked to take about 8 at a time, whereas others took one at a time and kept coming back for more! They were also keen on our oranges too!
Tomorrow is treat day! We have 9 very excited children for shopping, lunch and swimming! Lots of sleep needed!
6 April 2012 - Day 8 - Sponsored Children
Today was treat day for some sponsored children. They arrived at the hotel at 10am and we headed straight for Albert market. We gave each of the 9 children a bit of spending money and left them to peruse the market and barter for what they fancied. Meanwhile us Ladies went on a bit of a shopping spree which included buying jewellery, key-rings and wood carvings. When we all finished we headed to Billy's for a slap up meal. The children showed us all their goodies and they had all brought shoes and socks! Frances, Page and Rachel then played with the children, teaching them such games as 'stuck in the mud' and 'Grandmother's footsteps' which they immensely enjoyed.
7 April 2012 - Day 9 - Sports Day
Today we went to the Shiekh Hatab Memorial Nursery school to attempt our first ever PAGEANT sports day with help from our good friends Sainey and Musa. We divided the top nursery class into 4 teams - red, yellow, green and blue and started with a running relay race.
Afterwards, we made the short journey to Sainey's mother Kaddy's compound for a delicious lunch of ladyfish, spicy rice, cassava, bitter tomato, cabbage, aubergine, onions and beans prepared by Sainey's older brother Musa who is a chef on the Senegambia strip. Our next stop was Jambanjelly to visit the women's group to whom we had recently given PAGEANT loans and to give them some photos of the happy occasion. We played with the delightful children who particularly liked Page's tickle monster!
We then called in to see Wandifa brother Baba's family, the proud owners of the PAGEANT goats from last year. His children were very pleased to see us, especially Fatoumatta, who read to us with beautiful expression and phrasing - a very intelligent young lady! Our final stop of the day was the market to collect 64 mosquito nets to take to Jarreng and Jarra tomorrow. After some super negotiations from the boss lady, we settled on a good price and strapped them safely to the roof rack of the minibus. After a lovely poolside dinner we are busy packing for our trip. We set off for Tendaba early tomorrow - our first leg of our long Jarreng journey. Here's to some slightly cooler weather...!
8-9 April 2012 - Days 10&11 - Trip to Jarreng!
42 Police stops... 13 hours in the minibus... 1 flat tyre... 16 bottles of water... a LOT of bread... 64 mosquito nets... later, we are now back in Banjul after an excellent trip up country! We were up very early for the first leg of our journey to Jarreng, where we stayed at Tendaba Camp. The camp was extremely busy (note to self - do not go over Easter weekend again!!) so we survived off fizzy drinks and chip butties! However, Yankuba and Rachel still managed a bird watching boat trip where they saw lots of exotic birds, a monkey and a crocodile, and the rest of us played lots of cards and Mouse Trap which proved extremely popular!
The next day we were up at half past 5 (after very little sleep) to complete our journey to Jarreng. We made it in good time to Yankuba's grandmother's compound which proceeded to get busier as word spread! Whilst there we saw all the Jarreng sponsored children, gave out half of the mosquito nets and some clothing and baby blankets, and then were treated to a delicious breakfast. Next, we headed to Jarra to visit Wandifa's home compound. We again handed out another 32 mosquito nets and exercise books for all the primary school children. Tina, Frances and Page entertained the crowd with fabulous renditions of Old MacDonald, Way down in the Jungle, One Little Finger, and Alice the Camel! The children loved the songs and joined in with all the actions. One little girl even cried when we left as she wanted to come with us! We stopped off at Wandifa's sisters compound to visit his identical sister! Then it was off to pick up Mariama and EB (Wandifa's wife and son) from her home compound, where we were surprised with lunch! After loading the roof rack with firewood, we set off for Banjul and managed to make it in record time, arriving back at the hotel before 9pm. After a fight for the shower (won by Page!!) we had a small dinner before hitting the pillows! Ex-haus-ted!!!!! 
10 April 2012 - Day 12 - Final School Trip
Today was our final school visit of our trip. We headed to Kings Kid Academy to spend the morning with Grades 1 and 2. We decorated masks using paints, feathers, sequins and pipe cleaners. The children were all very creative and came up with some beautiful and original designs. They all showed great concentration and behaved impeccably. Next we did some tissue paper collage in a variety of bright colours. We had intended to cut out balloon shapes from their work but after seeing the wonderful patterns they came up with, we decided to keep them whole. The children were delighted to be able to take their masks home and we stuck their collages beside their names in the classrooms which really brightened them up. After cleaning up we stopped off at NARI to see how our artemesia agent Lamin has been getting on. The news was very encouraging and we were able to take 50 plant cuttings away with us to distribute to our top gardeners. Back at the hotel we had a brief swim and read by the pool, before heading out to dinner at the Senegambia with Linda. Another great day... can't believe that tomorrow will be our last day!
11 April 2012 - Day 13 - Celebration Time!
Today we did a whistle-stop tour of several compounds. Our first stop was to see Fatou Lisa and her beautiful daughters at Fajikunda. We made each of the girls a bracelet with their name on which proved to be a hit! When we went to leave they all sang us a lovely song - we were all greatly impressed by their beautiful spoken English, and their love of learning
After a brief stop in a compound in Wellingara, it was off to visit Wandifa's compound to deliver presents to sponsored children and clothes and gifts for many of the others. Lots of villagers were at the compound for the latest naming ceremony which meant lots of new babies to cuddle and people to see. From there we walked to Abdoulie's compound where we had a tour of his room and dropped seeds and jewellery off for his mother and sister.
Then it was onwards to see Wandifa's new land where he will shortly build a new family compound. We were impressed by the size and location and can't wait for work to begin. Back in Wandifa's current compound we were treated to a delicious fish benechin cooked by Mariama. We then left early enough to avoid heavy traffic which was due to the arrival of the President of Taiwan. We started packing and Frances, Page and Rachel each had a pedicure as a treat for all our hard work! Then tonight as it was our last night, the whole PAGEANT team headed to African Queen in the Senegambia for a special dinner to celebrate PAGEANT's 10th anniversary and Abdoulie becoming an official member of the PAGEANT team. We all had a wonderful evening with lots of laughter, jokes and great company! We surprised Wandifa, Abdoulie and Yankuba with a special PAGEANT cake after dinner which everyone agreed was delicious!
Back home - brrrrrr, isn't it cold........
This is really a signing-off THANK YOU from Pippa to all the April 2012 Pageant team - Tina, Frances, Rachel and Page from UK plus Wandifa, Yankuba and Abdoulie from The Gambia. We had such a great time - loads of laughs, a lot of hard work and so much fun.
So many memories...
First, of course, the team..... at compounds and schools, on long, hot journeys, waiting for things (an inevitable pastime in The Gambia!), coping with the unexpected, playing cards almost everywhere - team, you were GREAT! The photo is after the sports day at SHM Nursery in Gunjur.
Visiting many sponsored children and seeing their progress - the photo is of a couple of young girls whose story tore at our heart-strings in February and to whom we were delighted to be able to take sponsorship this time.
The welcome we received in so many family compounds - the photo is of me with Yankuba's grandmother, Mariama, at Jarreng. We think she is around 84 years old, a really lovely lady who looked after us (and the whole entourage who came to see us) so very kindly.
It will now be nearly a six month break until I go out again - but I'm looking forward to the next trip already!
That's all for now
A big thank-you to Frances for her daily posts on our, and to all the team for their hard work The Gambia. But it's not the end of interesting things on our blog. We get regular postings of news from The Gambia, and you can keep up to date on many and varied topics.