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Pageant Gambia Trip February 2014 - Blog Posts

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A Pageant, team consisting of Pippa, Ian, Kathy, Andrew, David, Regina and Kasia, is in The Gambia for the regular February visit. As usual, some members of the team are visiting schools and villages and checking on how Pageant's sponsored children are progressing. Also on the agenda are some Science Workshops for student teachers. These are a continuation of workshops on a variety of topics which Pageant has run in The Gambia since 2006. Despite difficult internet access, Kathy, and possibly other team members, will be posting their news from The Gambia on the Pageant News Blog. We will collect their posts on this page so you can see them all in one place.

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12 February - One Workshop Done, One To Go

original post by Kathy

We hoped this would be my second blog post but the first one didn't make it for some reason. We came out with Pippa, Ian, David, Regina and Katia on Thursday 6 Feb. The flight was OK, but delayed. Customs worked fine with the letter Pippa had received from the Gambia College saying the equipment was for science workshops. Wandifa and Abdoulie were there to meet us and it was great to see them. The weather here is very hot at about 35C. What a change from the UK. No rain, lovely.

We did the first workshop yesterday and it went very well apart from the start. It was due to begin at 9 and by 9.30 we had only nine teacher students. The rest arrived by 10. Other than that it went well and they seemed to enjoy it.

Today we are visiting compounds and sponsored children. Tomorrow another workshop and then on tuesday we will try the remaining ferry. Will then try to blog on wednesday and let youknow how it went!

13 February - Second Workshop Completed

original post by Kathy

Well the first thing I need to say is that I have spelled Kasia's name incorrectly in the last post. The next is that we completed the second workshop on Monday after visiting a few compounds on the Sunday. We were able to see some of the children or young adults that are sponsored. I hope to add some images here but if not then on Saturday when we get back..

The workshop went well and we were helped by Regina and Kasia as well as Abdoulie and Wandifa. Sarah, a peace corps volunteer also came and Linda was there on the Saturday. It is very useful to have her teaching experience for these workshops. The visit to the compounds was lovely and Abdoulie made some glasses for the children from glitzy pipe cleaners.

On the Tuesday we went to the North Bank on the one remaining ferry. It wasn't too bad. Coming back we were amused by the large cockroach and small rat travelling with us. Yesterday we had a lazy day by the pool while Pippa and Ian travelled around Banjul visiting compounds. The weather is lovely but very hot. Not looking forward to going back to the rain.

17 February - Back Home

original post by Kathy

Have managed to get back without a diversion from Gatwick to Stansted but it was a close run thing! We came back on Friday in the evening of the last storm and the wind was so strong the plane had to abort the first try at landing and come round for a second go. Luckily we managed it. After that the planes were diverted so it would have been a very tiring night if we had to travel back from Stansted - almost worse than the Banjul Ferry!

The last few days were spent visiting compounds and schools, with a trip to Humanities Nursery on our last day, en route to the airport. What a fantastic nursery this is, mostly funded by Pageant and Fax (hope I have spelled his name correctly - apologies if not) the owner and founder. There are three classes in this little school but the excellent teaching and the spotless toilets were a credit to the school.

For those of you who haven't been to The Gambia with Pippa and Ian, a typical day starts about 9.30 and finishes about 4 or 5. It involves a long hot day in and out of the minibus, with Wandifa and Abdoulie along to drive and help translate and administer the sponsorship. Pippa and Ian visit schools and families, checking that all is well with the children and that the money we all donate is used to support their education. They give out the empty forms for the children to write a letter to each sponsor, or draw a picture if they are too young to write. They will then collect as many as they can before returning to the UK.

The pictures below give an idea of the workshops and some of the people we met. For each workshop we showed the trainee teachers how to use the microscopes, lenses and binoculars we brought with us, looking at a selection of food, fabric, materials like sand (plenty of that) and whatever else we could lay our hands on. Then at the end of the day a number of children came in to the workshop from a local school and we watched how each teacher taught them about the microscopes. At the end of their teaching course, when they go out to a school the best ten teachers will get a set of equipment which includes a microscope, lenses and things to keep the children interested in science and exploring their world with the microscope. Everything was organised by Pippa and Ian in collaboration with Mr Ceesay the head of science at the Gambia Teacher Training College, Wandifa, Abdoulie and Yankuba.

The youngest class at Humanity nursery
The youngest class at Humanity nursery

Pippa and Abdoulie helping a student teacher at the workshop
Pippa and Abdoulie helping a student teacher at the workshop
Hopefully planning the lesson for the children!
Hopefully planning the lesson for the children!

Children from the local school looking through really good cardboard binoculars
Children from the local school looking through really good cardboard binoculars
Visiting a compound, Pippa looking through her paperwork
Visiting a compound, Pippa looking through her paperwork
The second workshop team getting ready for the day
The second workshop team getting ready for the day

In the above photo, Kasia is on the right, Pippa and I on the left. Regina is in the centre talking to Sarah, a Peace Corps volunteer who helped out that day. She is standing next to Wandifa, and last but not least Abdoulie with his lovely Pageant blue hat.

There is also a video of some children at a compound grinding the corn, but we are currently unable to copy the video to this page. Click this link for the original post and scroll down to see this video.

Some children at a compound wearing pipecleaner glasses made by Abdoulie
Some children at a compound wearing pipecleaner glasses made by Abdoulie

Pippa's Diary after Kathy's departure

original post by Pippa

A very brief outline of our last two weeks - sorry it's a bit late, but blame the intermittent internet (and my lack of staying power!!) Oh, and in addition to paying out sponsorship, we were also giving out letter forms on which the children write to their sponsors, and taking new photos of children as well. I would not like you to think we were slacking!! I have limited myself to one photo per day - very difficult...

Sat 15th Feb


Bakau and nearby area - sponsorship paid out for 15 children

Bakau and nearby area - sponsorship paid out for 15 children




Sun 16th Feb


Samba, now in Police Force

Saw Samba, now in Police Force, will qualify for accelerated promotion scheme after final year at MDI - agreed payment over 6 months. Wellingara, Abuko, Tallinding areas - sponsorship paid out for 9 children and agreed to take 3 more onto our 'waiting' webpage.

Mon 17th Feb


letters from Year 3 children at Sandcross Primary School

Took letters from Year 3 children at Sandcross Primary School in Reigate to Grade 3 children at Lutheran LBS in Abuko. Special shopping trip in afternoon, then sponsorship paid out for 3 children


Tue 18th Feb


sponsored child and family

Day in Brikama: sponsorship paid out for 20 children, one child was given a dynamo radio and torch from his sponsor (great excitement!) and we took another family a 50Kg sack of rice from their children's sponsor - again, this was received with great joy.

Wed 19th Feb


YMCA Skills Centre

Fajara, Cape Point, Kotu and Bakoteh: a morning of NOT finding people (Anna at MRC, Gibbi at Cape Point and Modou at Kotu). However, we still managed to pay sponsorship for 6 children, visited the YMCA learning centre, sorted out University fees for another student and ended up at Billy's for a late (4pm) lunch. Wandifa and Abdoulie tucked in heartily but Ian and I could only manage one (huge) sandwich between us.

Thur 20th Feb


a sponsored child

South Gambia day: we visited St Francis UBS, Banyaka LBS (letters and gifts from 2 UK schools here), Gunjur LBS, Siffoe and then came back via Mingdaw UBS (where we arranged to do a practical microscopy class session in April) and a couple of family compounds in Busumbala. In all we paid sponsorship out to 18 children.

Frid 21st Feb


woman with ethical gift of a Thermos flask

Banjul day: we visited a new (to us) nursery school in Banjul - Unity Daycare and Nursery, No children there as it was mid-term break, but we arranged to go back next week. Visited Albion LBS and were surprised to find Tom and 2 other teachers there from Westdene Primary School in Brighton - we had not realised they would be there. Had discussions re school funding with Albion Headteacher, Elisabeth, and then went to Albert Market to buy some ethical gifts - cooking pots & bowls, thermos flasks, and finally a huge sack of 40 family size mosquito nets, to take up-country with us on Monday

Sat 22nd Feb


another sponsored child

Serrekunda and Kanifing: sponsorship paid out for 9 children and bought some more ethical gifts - watering cans and small buckets for women's gardens (like our allotments).

Sun 23rd Feb


children with Esther's dresses

Jambanjelly & Brikama: Esther's dresses day! We collected Esther and Mike from their hotel - Esther and a group of friends had made 170 dresses for little girls and had also made shorts and donated shirts for little boys (about 40 in total). We went to the north side of Jambanjelly first, which is where our ladies loan group is based, and gave out about one third of Esther's goodies - such excitement, and the children just kept coming!

We repeated the whole thing at the south side of Jambanjelly, and then at Baba's compound and surrounding area in Brikama. What a success - Esther and her friends should be delighted with the result of all their hard work, as the children and their families were so thrilled. In amongst all this we managed to pay out sponsorship to 9 children!





Mon 24th Feb


new school uniforms at Kanikunda LBS

Kanikunda day! A long day - we left at 6.30 am (VERY good packed breakfast from the hotel) and travelled along the south bank of the river for about 120 miles or so, calling in at Mayork SSS on our way to see our twin girls who are in their final year there. We arrived at Kanikunda LBS at around 10am, were welcomed by the Headteacher, visited on-going projects and discussed new ones and delivered gifts of school uniform (donated by Willows Primary school) and exercise books (more ethical gifts)

After that we went to the village to give out the mosquito nets and then went to visit Wonto, Wandifa's sister, who had made us a delicious lunch of domada.  Then, on to Tahir SSS in Mansa Konko, three visits to families of sponsored children in Pakalinding and Soma (sponsorship payments to 8 children in all) and then home with a few stops to pick up firewood and charcoal - less expensive up-country than at home for Wandifa and Abdoulie. Arrived back at the hotel just after 9.30pm, so managed to get supper!

Tue 25th Feb


older sponsored student

SOS SSS, St Therese's LBS, Sukuta UBS, Kairaba SSS, YMCA and GTTI - visited students and teachers at all these schools, checking up on payment of fees and delivering a few gifts.






Wed 26th Feb


children at Unity Nursery

First, to RVTH prosthetic clinic to arrange fitting of Modou Lamin's new leg parts - we needed to buy a few materials for the clinic to be able to fit it, so Abdoulie went to do this while we went back to Unity Nursery to see the children and the school in action and to take them a couple of toys. Very well organised little school - we will certainly go there for a sports etc morning in April.

Visited a few students we had missed and then back to the hotel to start sorting out our room - no mean task!! Final dinner at Billy's - delicious!!

Thu 27 Feb

Packed up our cases AND the stuff we were leaving at Linda's, paid our last bill, dropped in at Linda's to leave stuff behind - and then to the airport. Home via Las Palmas as we had to pick up more fuel, but at least it was a quiet night when we landed at Gatwick! Until the next time.....

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