> Pageant Trip April 2013 (from Pageant News Blog)
A Pageant team went to The
Gambia for their regular April visit. Pippa and Tina went out on
Friday 29th March, and Frances and her group joined them on
Monday 1st April. They visited schools and villages and
checked on how Pageant's sponsored children were progressing. As
usual there were 'fun lessons' in several schools, which the
children greatly appreciated.
managed to regularly post their news from The Gambia on the
Pageant News Blog,
despite difficult internet access. We have collected their
posts on this page so you can see them
all in one place.
31 March 2013 -
Pageant trip April 2013! original
blog post by Frances
Hello everyone! Tomorrow is the day!
The rest of the PAGEANT team are flying out to Banjul to join Pippa and Tina for a busy week of nursery school art and
games, compound trips, market gift token shopping and
hopefully some more goat buying! Page, Lauren, Dan and I are
all (pretty much) packed and ready to go... With all our extra
kilos! We even found space for a few items of clothing in
amongst all the paint, hoops, frisbees, bouncy balls, books,
presents and much more!!
We have a jam-packed week planned
starting with our first nursery school trip on Tuesday! So
keep a look out for updates...
packed and ready to go
We hope the Internet is better
than in February! Huge thank yous already to Malcolm and Ian
for their excellent packing skills!
31 March 2013 -
Siffoe Loan Scheme
On Sunday 31 March Pippa & Tina went to
Siffoe, in the south of The Gambia, to formally set up a new
Scheme. Pippa wasn't able to post this news on our blog
at the time, so we have added her account to our
as an update. (Click
here for Pippa's story)
We have arrived in The
Gambia! We have already had a swim and dinner and now are preparing
for our first nursery school adventure tomorrow! Much to the amusement
of the other guests and security guards, we had a quick practise with
the parachute outside and are now busily packing art, sports and games
resources ready to take with us! We are off to Humanity Nursery School
armed with art activities, team games and stories to entertain the
children (and teachers!!). But first for some well earned sleep!
Good night! X x x
Good evening all!
We have had a great day at
Humanity Nursery! Despite it being school holidays, all the
children turned up raring to go and were very pleased to see us!
We started with lots of team games including over under with
balloons and hoops, bean bag relays, skipping and 'Duck Duck
Then it was time for
the parachute... What a success! I don't think I have ever seen
so many smiles at once! We played lots of games which involved
balls flying high, children running excitedly underneath and a
fantastic 'mushroom' (where everyone sits underneath the
parachute so it looks like a mushroom). Next,
Tina read 'Handa's Hen' with her trusty assistants Wandifa,
Abdoulie, Yankuba and Pippa! The children listened carefully and
were fascinated by the toy chicks (which, much to Yankuba's
delight, chirped when pressed!).
Meanwhile, the rest of the
PAGEANT team prepared the classroom for some art. The younger
nursery children enjoyed sponge painting shapes (and themselves!!)
while the older children collaged shapes and numbers with tissue
paper, feathers, sequins, materials and cellophane to compliment
the story of Handa's Hen. On the way home we visited several
compounds to deliver more PAGEANT sponsor letter forms (we have
delivered 152 letter so far!)
We had time for a quick swim and
relax before a huge dinner at
Billy's. Now, it is back to sorting
ready for our next school visit tomorrow.... That's if we survive
our recent ordeal of being sprayed by the mosquito man!!
all at home! X x x
Apologies for the late post... Yesterday was such a great day
but we were shattered by the evening so sleep called! We started
our day at Kings Kid Academy in Lamin Village with the nursery
Like yesterday we started with team games and
parachute fun! We were very impressed with the standard of
English and the children's listening skills. This meant we could
do more in the time and have more fun! Highlights included the
bean bag race (after Dan's excellent frog run impression!) and
the mushrooms with the parachute! One group even managed to play
a game whilst underneath!
After the games Tina read a story
under the shade of a mango tree whilst the team prepared the
classrooms for messy art! The children loved the art and
produced some beautiful collages and paintings. Wandifa had a
ball too!! The children sang us their National Anthem followed
by a medley of different songs. Some even sang solos! This was a
great end to a brilliant morning.
Next stop was to Baba's
compound, Wandifa's brother and his family. We took lots of
games including skipping, bubbles, hopscotch and tennis balls
which entertained the whole village! They treated us to a lovely
lunch and it was great to spend time with such a lovely family.
Unfortunately the goats were out in the field but their house is
still going strong!
On our way back to the hotel we stopped at
Gambia College to visit various students and give out more
letter forms. We arrived back just in time for happy hour and
then ventured to the Senegambia for some fun at African Queen. Alieu did not let us down with his super service. He had even
prepared a huge table decoration of flowers for our table only!
A great evening!
We are looking forward to meeting lots of our
sponsored children today! We are asking them shopping in the
market, followed by lunch and games at Billy's. there may even
be chance for a swim in the sea later!
Lots of love x x X.
Today we treated 11 of our sponsored children to an exciting day
out including going shopping in the market and eating lunch at
Billy's. We started in Albert market where we gave the children
each some money to spend on whatever they wanted. They bought an
impressive array of shoes, socks, dresses, skirts, jeans, shorts
and more! We managed some PAGEANT shopping as well, choosing
some lovely wooden animals, sand paintings and keyrings to bring
back from the craft market.
After the market we walked to Billy's restaurant where all the
children tucked in to chicken and chips followed by ice cream!
For some this was their first time ever visiting Banjul (the
capital city) and for one boy, his first time seeing the sea!
After dinner we played some brilliant games including rounders,
football and frisbee! The boys said that their highlight was
eating, whereas the girls said they enjoyed the shopping and
games! We ended the day giving out presents for the children we
aren't going to see again this trip. These were extremely
popular and went down a treat!
Back at the hotel we had a drink with Modou Jagne, our
university medic who is approaching the end of his third year,
before enjoying a BBQ buffet by the pool! We are now half way
through our trip... Hopefully some more exciting days to come!
Tomorrow we are off visiting compounds, starting at Abdoulie's
and then heading to Wandifa's! We are very excited to meet some
new babies and all the children! Ps sorry for the lack of photos
More will come soon! X x
This morning we treated ourselves to a lie in, having breakfast
at a whopping 8:30 before packing our bags with lots of goodies
to take with us to compounds. First stop was Abdoulie's where we
got to meet the gorgeous new arrival, Mustapha! After lots of
cuddles we explored his mother's garden. We were really
impressed with the amazing array and size of cabbages, sweet
potato, beans, onions, tomatoes, bitter tomatoes, aubergine and
lettuces. What a fabulous garden! Abdoulie has built an
impressive extension on the side of his house, as well as
decorating on the inside. It all looks great! We had some shirts
to give to Wandifa and Abdoulie who put them on straight away!
Big shout out to Malcolm - they looked really smart and it
definitely made their day! Wandifa has been calling himself 'topman'
We drove on to Wandifa's compound where we were greeted by lots
of smiling children! We gave our sponsored children some gifts
which were greatly received. Mo Lamin was particularly pleased
with his new cycle helmet to accompany his bike he has been
bought as a reward for his hard work at school. We entertained
the children with bubbles, balloons and parachute games before
taking the older ones to play rounders at the lorry park (a
large sandy area). The children impressed us with their batting
and throwing skills and enjoyed being introduced to a new game.
Saturday began with a relaxing lounge by the pool, as it was
street cleaning day and no cars were allowed on the road until 1pm.
On the way to Manneh's compound we looked for evidence of the
cleaning, but found none! On route we called in to collect a variety
of parcels from Yankuba and admire his room! At the Manneh's we were
treated to an amazing feast of Benechin, rice and beef with eggs and
tomato. They were very pleased to receive some donated designer
t-shirts and as it was Adama's birthday, he was given a football! It
was really lovely to see them all looking so well and to hear all
about their plans for the future.
After some heart stopping reversing (Abdoulie at his best!) we
headed back for a quick change before going to Senegambia to
celebrate Wandifa's upcoming birthday. It was a very 'wow'
evening! Wandifa smiled from ear to ear, particularly when the
lights went out and a special slice of cake appeared including a
sparkler! We then cracked out the party blowers which proved a
Sunday began with an expedition to Jambanjelly! We arrived to a
fantastic welcome of dancing and singing, lead by Nuha who is
sponsored by Dan. We joined in with some dancing (video to
follow!) and songs including a brilliant rendition of the Hokey
Cokey! We played parachute games and were very impressed with
the discipline of all the children. Leaving Dan and Rachel in
charge of the bean bag, balloon and skipping games, we headed to
see Jambanjelly women's group, to find out how they were doing
with their PAGEANT loan. We were delighted to find that they
were on their third set of six ladies and that about half of the
previous ladies were still trading. Lauren and I entertained the
children with bouncy balls and a conga line!
We returned to the first compound where Rachel and Dan were in
the middle of a game of Grandmother's Footsteps. Having scooped
them up, we waved goodbye and headed to Gunjur to deliver lots
of PAGEANT letter forms and take more photos of students. We
returned to the hotel in time for a game of water basket before
entertaining Haddy, Isha, Alhagie and Mama who had been brought
to the hotel by their dad to see us. We did some drawing whilst
having a drink and then played a round of crazy golf! They
played on the swings and slide before going home clutching more
gifts. We had a slightly hysterical evening back at the hotel of
wild music and intermittent food!!!
The youth of the party are preparing to leave tomorrow :( whilst
Pippa and Tina are gearing up for a long day traveling up
country to Jarreng (there and back in one day!!)
We promise to add more photos when we return home but for now
goodnight! X x x
Sorry for the lack of a daily update after Dan, Frances, Lauren
and Rachel went home – Tina and I arrived back on Friday
evening, so I will fill in our last few days now:
Before doing the ‘airport run’ we went to RVTH (hospital in
Banjul) with Modou Lamin to check on the refitting of his
prosthetic leg, which went well. However, we found that the
original fittings sent for him from UK have mysteriously
disappeared, so we are investigating how we might source some
more. If we do, they will be kept under lock and key until
needed if they do not fit him when they arrive.
Then to Albert Market to buy 54 large family size mosquito nets
(Gift Token donations) to take up-country on the following day.
They were packed into 3 huge sacks for transporting on the roof
rack of the minibus.
Off to the airport and sadly waved goodbye to the younger
members of the team – then back through Abuko, where we
collected Karamba for the very exciting purchase of a bicycle!
This was an 18th birthday present from his sponsor and he could
hardly contain himself for excitement. The now expert
bicycle-buying duo of Wandifa and Abdoulie tried three different
shops before finding something to their liking – I think Karamba
was beginning to think that he would NEVER get his gift!
However, eventually the purchase was made, together with a
padlock and chain to keep it safe, and a beaming Karamba
pedalled off home.
Back to the hotel, where a whole load of Pageant reinforcements
had arrived – Ann & Brian, plus Alan & Paula with Charlotte,
Chris, Joe and Kerris. After a lot of discussion (and a few
Julbrews) Charlotte and Joe decided that they would like to come
with us the following day, even though it meant setting out at
6am on their very first morning!!
The alarm went off at 5.15am (!), Abdoulie, Wandifa & Yankuba
arrived on time at 5.45am, we loaded up the minibus, collected
our packed breakfasts from the hotel kitchen and were off just
after 6am – amazing!!
After a good journey (just a short stop at Soma to buy bananas
and stretch our legs) we arrived at Jarreng just after 10am –
the road improvements have certainly made the journey a lot
quicker (only about 30Km is not tarmacked now). We were made
very welcome by Yankuba’s grandmother, Mariama, in her compound
and a host of Pageant-sponsored students, ladies hoping for a
mosquito net and members of a senior boys’ football team began
Wandifa and I gave out individual payments to the sponsored
children and their parents while Yankuba distributed contents of
packages of clothing and bedding to the families.
Then it was time for the mosquito nets – these are always the
most prized gifts and competition for them was intense!
Charlotte and Yankuba did a magnificent job of the distribution
of 27 nets - there were a lot of smiling faces and ‘Abarake’
(thank-you) was heard from all sides.
The last donation was a set of football kit for the senior boys’
team, who had been waiting patiently all this time – the lads
all put the shirts on immediately for a team photo (we decided
that the shorts would be too difficult in the confined space in
the compound) and when we presented them with a football as well
their joy was complete. Our grateful thanks to Helen for the
football kit – we hope that you and the donors like the photo.
After a delicious lunch of bread, fish (sadly, no-one could tell
us what the fish was called) and sauce and a lot of hugs all
round we set off back the way we had come – next stop was
Wandifa’s home village of Kanikunda, which is near Soma. Here,
we had more clothes to distribute as well as the remaining 27
nets – once more received with huge gratitude and enthusiasm.
Tina and Charlotte kept the children enthralled with songs and
bubbles while Wandifa was distributing the nets, and were really
impressed with how well the children listened and responded to
the songs. Joe was adopted by a little boy who remained
practically glued to his side the whole time we were there! We
also gave out several pairs of (non-prescription) reading
glasses to some of the older men, as they had asked for these on
a previous occasion.
Back into the by now EXTREMELY hot minibus for the homeward
journey. This was punctuated by a few stops:
to give out letter forms to children living along the road,
to take photos of a couple of very good students who are
and a short refreshment stop at
Tendaba camp to show Charlotte and Joe the beautiful riverside
scenery of that part of the country.
We eventually arrived back at the hotel just before 9.30pm – a
long day, but we were delighted to have achieved so much without
the need for an overnight stay, such as we have had to make in
Tina and I collapsed, very dirty, into a dark corner of the
restaurant, where Bakary brought us a huge bowl of very welcome
soup. Charlotte and Joe did the same… and then we all decided on
a shower and bed…..
You will not be surprised that Tina and I had a bit of a lie-in
and did not go out until about 10.30am!
On our way to drop off more letter forms I bought a packet of
‘bitter tomato’ seeds, as I have been unable to find them in UK.
‘Bitter tomatoes’ are often served in Gambian compounds and are
really delicious. (Having bought the packet, I found it was
labelled ‘African aubergines’, so maybe they are available here
We gave out several letter forms, went to discuss some business
plans with a sponsored young woman, took some books into SOS SSS
and had a discussion with the Principal there before returning
to the hotel for a meeting with three Pageant-sponsored
University students. Alan, Paula, Charlotte and Joe all came to
chat with the three students and I am not sure who enjoyed it
Tina and I then went down to Billy’s for dinner – my last
ladyfish of the trip. Lovely food, as ever…
We then packed
several boxes with materials that we wish to leave in The Gambia
for future visits – to be left with Linda in her store-room.
11 April 2013 -
Artemisia & School Visits original
blog post by Pippa
top of page >>
A couple of students came to see us just after breakfast, so
Tina, Charlotte and I set off at about 9.30am. First stop NARI
in Brikama to buy some Artemisia Annua plants – this time we
bought a whole tray of seedlings, to see if some of our
established gardeners can cope with the plants in this form.
[more info on
our Artemisia page] Then into Gambia College to deliver some English books for the
trainee teachers – I met the College Principal, who said she
hoped we would be back to do more Science Workshops next year!
Our next visit was to Humanity Nursery – this was to show
Charlotte the school, as she had raised a considerable amount of
sponsorship for a project there, but had not seen the school
herself. Holiday time, so classes were not running, but it made
it easy to look round the school buildings themselves and to see
the roof that needs to be replaced before the rainy season.
Having decided that she would indeed be happy for the money to
be used in this way, we called into GTTI so that she could
personally hand the money over to Faks (who was working with his
students even though it was a holiday!)
Back to the hotel, a quick shower and change before going over
to Linda’s to sort out boxes and money! This always takes much
longer than expected, but we must be getting better at it, as we
made it to ‘La Romantica’ on the Senegambia strip at the agreed
time of 7.30pm for our last dinner of the trip.
We were a good crowd – Tina, Linda and I, Alan, Paula,
Charlotte, Chris, Joe and Kerris plus Abdoulie, Wandifa, Momodou
and Sainey. Musa, Sainey’s brother, is the ‘La Romantica’ chef
and the food was, as ever, delicious – as Kerris said, it seems
strange to say that a Gambian has cooked some of the best
Italian food one has ever eaten, but it is true!
A great evening… then back to the hotel for the last time this
Last breakfast, packing, goodbyes to all the staff, handing over
the last bits and pieces to Ann and Brian… then off to the
airport (via Billy’s for a last drink and Linda’s to leave a
last box and the remaining dalasis).
Checked in – all went OK, although the guy at the desk tried to
charge me for extra baggage. (I forgot to tell you that Wandifa
gave me a most AMAZING present – a full-size ballophone! I was
so thrilled, even though he really should not have done it….)
Anyway, Baba at the hotel had packed it up for me for travel in
the hold of the plane, we had weighed it and the other two cases
and we were, maybe, 1Kg over our allotted baggage allowance. The
airport scales, however, said we were 4Kg over - but when I said
we had weighed it at the hotel there was no further problem.
Last drink with Wandifa, Abdoulie and Yankuba, (who managed to
get a break from work to come and see us off). Last hugs…. Thank
you all so much, our wonderful Gambian Pageant team, take care
On the up side – we were airborne 10 minutes before our
departure time and we arrived at Gatwick nearly one hour early!
Our luggage all arrived OK and the ballophone was undamaged… and
it is not THAT cold!
[Ballophone (Balafon) see
and hear one in action]