> Pageant Trip April 2014 (from Pageant News Blog)
Once again a Pageant team has travelled to
The Gambia to visit schools and nurseries, with some creative
lessons and lots of fun. They have kept us up to date with
regular postings on the
Pageant News Blog.
Frankie, Caroline, Ellie and Rachel are part of a team of eight
Pageant Runners who raised over £2000 in
sponsorship by competing in the
Richmond Spring Riverside Run.
There is a
full report on this news page. The money they
raised was spent on all sorts of interesting items for their
classes, as you will find out by reading their blog posts.
7, 8 April 2014 - Days 1& 2 - Hello everyone!
see original post by Frances
The PAGEANT team for April 2014 have arrived
safely after a good flight. We have had a busy first full day with
our first school visit to King's Kid Academy - here we showed all
the children and teachers from both KKA and Presentation St Mary how
to do maths without paper, pencils or books! Using the resources we
bought with the money from our sponsored run - carpet tiles, playing
cards, dice, digit cards, skittles and lots more - we showed the
children and their teachers lots of games and activities to help
practise their number skills in a fun and active way. The children
really enjoyed the morning and the teachers came away with some new
ideas as to how to make maths more fun and interactive.
We dropped in at St Therese's LBS on our way
back, before enjoying a relaxing few hours by the pool. We also
managed to prepare all the sports equipment for our sports day
tomorrow - we threaded 114 medals, blew up balls and space hoppers -
we then put them to the test by having a (rather competitive) space
hopper race - much to the delight and amusement of the hotel
We have just returned from a delicious meal at
Billy's - we tucked in to some lady fish and chicken yassa - yum!
Hope everyone at home is well! Keep posted for our sports day news
tomorrow... I believe it will be a hectic and rather competitive
day! Bring it on!!
Frankie, Caroline, Ellie And Rachel x x x
Today we headed to Jambanjelly Basic Cycle School for our sports
day! We had 80 children from Grade 4 which we divided into 4 teams -
10 girls and 10 boys in each team. First we started with some simple
running relays and then we ventured on to more complicated space
hopper and sack races! The children seemed to particularly enjoy our
demonstrations!!! Despite some cheating (and even a
disqualification!!) the red team came first - Caroline has not
stopped smiling since! The children all really enjoyed their day and
the teachers are already planning their turn!!
The rest of
the day was spent relaxing in Lamin Lodge where Ellie met a new
furry friend... A monkey! The monkey was very pleased when Abdoulie
split his vimto all over the table and leapt in to clear it up! We
had a quick swim back at the hotel before catching up with the
latest from Modou Jeng. We have just indulged at African Queen and
caught up with Musa (when he eventually arrived!!!)
Tomorrow we are
off for our second maths day in Lutheran BCS - we may have to walk
there as the PAGEANT bus is currently undergoing surgery!! Fingers
crossed it is fixed for the morning - travelling with only 3 gears
today was a Gambian adventure! Stay tuned! X x x
Pippa has posted
additional text and pictures at the end of this page.
This morning, after what turned out to be gear box failure, we
took a new mode of transport (and driver) to Lutheran LBS in Abuko
to do our second maths morning. The grade threes here were really
enthusiastic and very bright which was lovely to see, as well as the
teachers. This meant that we could make some of our games and
activities more challenging. Lutheran is a lovely school with well
decorated classrooms and is continuing to expand each year much like
KKA. Abdoulie finally joined us after having tracked down three new
gear boxes and we set off to see Wandifa's new house (almost)
complete with its new roof! The compound looks amazing and we had
the guided tour - it was lovely to see Wandifa so proud! Frankie
even has her own bedroom! The only drawback is... Wandifa says she
has to plaster and decorate it herself ready to stay next year!!!
We walked around the corner to Abdoulie's compound where we saw
baby Mustapha and his niece and nephew who had been at the school
this morning. Caroline and Frankie tried out the well while Abdoulie
climbed his orange tree to provide us with oranges for lunch. They
were delicious!! Next stop was Wandifa's current compound where we
saw lots of our sponsored children and gave out stickers to the
local children. Back at the hotel we tried out the Gambian gym... An
experience!! We feel like we had three workouts in one due to the
ridiculous temperature!! We are about to prepare for our nursery art
day tomorrow before heading to have a relaxed dinner in the hotel.
We have a busy day planned tomorrow - art at Unity Nursery
followed by several compound visits and to top it all off, we have
been invited for "a sauce" at the bishops house! Yep, your guess is
as good as ours!!!! We will let you know how we get on tomorrow! Lots of love to everyone at home :) F, C, R and E!! X x x
Apologies for the late
blog... We decided to have a night off the stress of Gambian
Internet last night and played some competitive card games in the
bar to round off our fantastic day!
Yesterday was a day full
of much joy! We started the day at Unity Nursery School in Banjul
where we were joined by a lovely family from England who we met in
the hotel and whose extra hands were invaluable on such a busy day.
We were greeted by the nursery children singing and dancing in their
multicoloured shorts! This was followed by a really successful art
morning where everyone got covered in paint, glue, glitter and sand!
The children sponge painted, finger painted, collaged and coloured
lots of insects from a story and we were able to create a colourful
classroom display to help the children with their numbers.
Tina then told a sensory story which included bubbles, a thunder
tube, foil lightening and water spray. The children listened really
well and, due to their excellent command of English, the story
didn't need to be translated! It was lovely to see one of our
sponsored children Mohammed, who has special educational needs,
taking a full part in the activities. His favourite thing were the
Next stop was Ebrima's compound - the little boy
now sponsored by Rachel. He was delighted by his presents, his
favourite of which was the football and hat which he clung on to
very tightly! We played a few rounds of Grandmother's Footsteps
where it was lovely to see Ebrima's relaxed but competitive nature
among his friends. We then visited the Kambi compound to see three
sponsored children - Fatoutmatta, Mo Lamin and Aminata, who is
sponsored by Ellie. Aminata was thoroughly spoiled with her presents
and got set to work on completing one of the puzzles that Ellie gave
her! Both Aminata and Ebrima will be joining us on our treat day
next week - we are really looking forward to seeing them again!
The highlight of the day was the visit to Bishop Dennis' house where
we were treated to a delicious sauce which included vegetables,
fish, rice, salad, fruit salad and cake! It was a very memorable
experience and we all had a wonderful evening! We look forward to
Today we are having a relaxing
morning... Although the sun is yet to appear (typical!). We are
hiring a boat later today to travel from Banjul to Lamin Lodge
through the mangrove swamps. We are all looking forward to a fun
evening out with the Manneh's at African Queen.
We are off
for our second gym session... Wish us luck! Lots of love Frankie
and Caroline x x x text
12, 13 April 2014 - Days 6 & 7 - Manneh day - Ellie's knottage day!
original blog post by Frances
top of page >>
After such a busy few days we have had a slightly more relaxing
weekend to prepare for our trip up country tomorrow. Saturday
started with a trip to the gym followed by a boat trip from Denton
Bridge to Lamin Lodge and back, along the River Gambia. As you can
see from the pictures, our boat wasn't the most stable device... But
still worked better than the van which remains out of action! We
played lots of games and enjoyed the views from the boat. The usual
monkeys joined us for a drink at Lamin Lodge and on our return to
Denton Bridge we tried to hijack Yankuba's bike but he spotted us
In the evening we headed to the Senegambia strip where we met the
Manneh family, Linda and the PAGEANT team for a lovely dinner. It
was great to catch up with them and see them all looking so well and
full of life.
Today we started the day with a water aerobics
workout (Gambian style - our necks have never been so fit!!). We
were joined by the team and set off for a couple of compounds to
visit sponsored children and to see Abdoulie's new baby goats which
we have Christened Page and Frankie (Ellie and Caroline goats are
due next week!!). We ended up at Fatoulisa's compound where we
enjoyed a delicious Gambian feast of chicken, rice, aubergine,
onions, peppers and bitter tomato. We entertained the children with
some parachute games and a game of rounders. As usual, the children
were delightful and we continue to be amazed by their fantastic
English and bubbly personalities. The eldest three are doing
brilliantly at school.
We are off to Billy's for dinner tonight so we can get an early
night before leaving at silly o clock to go on our up country
adventure! Hopefully no Gambian hiccups await!!!!
Love to everyone at home! We hear the sunshine we sent your way has
finally arrived!! X x x
Yesterday, we left the hotel at 6am for Kanni Kunda (also spelt
Kanikunda) armed with lots
of presents and packed breakfasts as well as armfuls of pillows (we
still haven't got our PAGEANT van back) but unfortunately no
mosquito nets as the replacement van does not have a roof rack. We
were entertained on our journey by the lack of cutlery... Ellie
found a way round this by cracking her egg on the window while
others dipped their bread in the butter! We arrived safely after 3
and a half hours at Kanni Kunda LBS to check up on the progress of
our latest projects. The computer suite is looking great with a
tiled floor and electrics all in place. They also have the solar
panels to power the computers and safety grills to put on the
windows. We all thought it looked very impressive and they are due
to start work on their new dining room next term. We collected
Fatoumatta (one of Tina's sponsored students) from the bus stop as
she had travelled from Jarreng that morning to spend a few days with
us in Banjul.
We stopped off to see Nurse who is in charge of the women's group
and micro loan project. She is only 22 years old with a new baby but
has managed the micro loan project with efficiency and good humour.
The ladies are on track to pay their loan back in full by July which
means another 6 ladies can start again. We seemed to be playing a
game of how many people you could stuff into one room - we had over
30 at one point which as you can imagine was rather warm!!! Reading
glasses and toys were handed out - we had an impromptu opticians
service in the crowded room!
Next stop was to see Wanto, Wandifa's sister for goat negotiations!
She looked very well and was keen to be the next recipient of a
PAGEANT goat, courtesy of Caroline's family! We managed to get a
bargain - a pregnant goat with some hard bartering by Yankuba! Wanto
was delighted with her goat and waved us off clutching it tightly!
We stopped for a roadside drink before calling in to see several
other sponsored children to take photos and check reports. We had a
very long hot journey back but because it was in daylight, for the
first time ever we saw groups of women heading to tend their crops
with their water buckets on the heads, many people working in the
fields and lots of traditional houses and sights. Yankuba returned
with a single feather (much to his disappointment but our delight!!)
following a slight incidence involving the bus and a guinea fowl!
We were exhausted when we arrived back at 8pm so we ordered a quick
dinner and fell into bed!!
Today we visited our last school of this trip, Humanity Nursery
School. Although they were on their school holiday, the children
came in especially to see us! We began with lots of messy art where
the children collaged, painted, hand printed and coloured lots of
exciting pictures. We created some really lovely classroom displays
to brighten up their rooms. The children then enjoyed some parachute
games and some singing before waving us off!
We went and collected Fatou from Gambia College and stopped at a
cafe to discuss setting up the new Brikama women's group and micro
loan. She seemed really receptive and full of good ideas for the new
scheme. Ellie had her hair braided by Fatoumatta while we waited!
After this we went to meet the women but unfortunately as we
arrived, the village had just been informed of a bereavement and so
we have arranged to go back on Thursday.
On our way back to the hotel we called in to see Wandifa's brother
Baba and all his lovely children. They were very happy to receive
some new clothes, colouring books and toys and enjoyed playing some
games with us. Back at the hotel there was just enough time for a
quick swim and gym session before dinner at Billy's with Linda and
some of her colleagues.
We are all looking forward to treat day tomorrow where we are going
to take lots of our sponsored children shopping and then to lunch.
Bring it on!
After taking bets on a) on what time the bus would turn up, b) which
bus would turn up and c) who would be driving, 9 sponsored children/
young adults and 3 slightly older pageant members arrived for a trip
to Albert market. We gave them an hour to go off in small groups and
buy things just for them. Each person arrived back at the van with
their bags of goodies, (for which they had managed some good
bargaining techniques) and large smiles. Meanwhile....we headed to
our trusted market traders and did some hard bargaining ourselves
for drums, sarongs and a giraffe called Wanto.
Then it was time to head to Billy's for lunch, which consisted of
many plates of chicken and chips. Whilst we waited for the food we
played a competitive game of rounders and volleyball. After lunch we
played more games before saying goodbye to the children, clutching
their shopping and doggy bags full of chicken and chips.
Unfortunately Abdouli was unable to join us toady as he not feeling
well, we missed him and hope that he is able to join us again before
This afternoon we invited Modou Jeng to the hotel to join us for a
drink where we surprised him with a tablet. The look on his face was
a picture and we know he will put it to good use.
Tonight we are dining at the A'la carte restaurant in the hotel for
some much needed vegetables. We may even fit in a competitive game
of cards (anyone notice a theme?) and Frankie is hoping not to
17 April 2014 - Day 11 - all Christmases came at once!
original blog post by Frances
top of page >>
Our last full day was certainly a busy one!
We headed off early to the women's group at Brikama, stopping at the
GTTI to see Fax, founder of Humanity Nursery School, on our way
going (Gambian lingo!). With Fax we discussed his latest project
ideas for the school and the progress of the PAGEANT bus which is
set to be out of action for a while until a good gear box comes
along (4 have been tried already!)
We arrived at the women's
group where Pippa and Fatou explained all about the new loan scheme
in English then Mandinka. The 6 chosen women then presented their
business proposals to the rest of the group and asked for their
support. Their ideas included selling soap, washing powder, wonjo
ice and palm wine. After the women's group we stopped at a local
market to go in search of rice sacks and mosquito nets. Ellie and
Frankie managed the 50kg bag of rice between them which they were
quite proud of... However shortly after a Gambian lady strolled past
carrying her baby on her back, heavy buckets in her hands and a 50kg
rice sack on her head!! We will have to practise this next time!
The market was an amazing sight... Full of vibrant colours and
fascinating sights and sounds. As usual it went on for rows and
rows. Eventually we found some mosquito nets which passed the
Wandifa test so we headed back to the van with our goodies. On our
way we stopped to buy dictionaries as prizes for a school to give
out on their prize giving day, as well as oranges for our lunch!
Then we called in to see Baba, Wandifa's brother. He showed us his
wedding material as he is due to get married at the end of the
month. All 300-400 guests will be dressed in similar material - we
can't wait to see photos!
Next it was the moment we had all
been waiting for... Earlier in the week we had come across a family
in total despair. They had recently lost their father, leaving the
mother and grandmother to feed more than 10 children in the
compound. We decided to help out, starting by giving them 2 family
sized mosquito nets to protect the whole family at night. The
grandmother was delighted with these as she wasn't expecting
anything from us! Next we surprised her with the sack of rice which
will feed their family for more than a month! Again there were
smiles all round. Finally we had one more present to give to her...
Before we arrived with her we had struck a deal with the family
across the street to buy two goats for her family. Yankuba lead the
goat negotiations and we managed to get a good deal which would also
help their family to complete work on their roof which they had been
struggling to find money for...
While at the compound Caroline,
Frankie and Ellie had been shown how to make a mud block, Gambian
style - we were pretty good but again, practise is needed next
time!! Anyway, Wandifa explained to the grandmother that us girls
would like to show her the blocks we had made (he is such a tease!!)
so we walked across the road to view the blocks! We surprised her
with the goats and at that moment, she was certainly the happiest
Gambian alive! All her Christmases had definitely come at once! The
goats were transported (around shoulders!) to her compound to their
new home. We gave out some footballs and small toys and hair bands
to the children at the compound and then left them with their
goodies... It was a pleasure to help such a lovely family.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped off to surprise one more
student with a netbook which was enthusiastically received! Ebrima
was delighted with the netbook and, as a University student AND
part-time teacher in an Upper Basic School, it will
help him greatly with his studies and planning.
Back at the
hotel we began the laborious chore of packing... Although it took us
about 3 minutes due to our cases being so empty!! We then glammed up
and headed to the Senegambia strip for our last evening meal where
we were joined by Yankuba, Wandifa, Linda and Sainey and Alhassan
Darboe. It was great to catch up with everyone - there were lots of
laughs all round. Sainey produced his latest article in the local
newspaper which would you believe included a feature length article
about our 10k run!! We are now famous in The Gambia!!! The highlight
of the evening was definitely singing happy birthday to Wandifa and
seeing his face when his cake along with candles and sparklers
appeared!! Happy (almost) birthday Wandifa!!!
18 April 2014 - Day 12 - happy birthday Wandifa!!
original blog post by Frances
top of page >>
After an early breakfast and some last minute sorting
and packing, we surprised Wandifa with a real birthday cake, which
we had made in the hotel. His face said it all and he approved of
our singing!! We presented him with a birthday card in which we had
all written special messages! We piled in to 2 taxis and headed for
the airport - a straight forward journey one might think... But not
in The Gambia!!
The first stop was to receive a handful of knitted
mobile phone cases thrust through the window that had been specially
made for us by Fatoulisa's daughter, Haddy. Next we greeted Seedy
who had been instructed to 'pick' the cake from the roadside and
take it to Wandifa's compound. Finally we were hailed by Goodboy who
had come to deliver a sponsored child's letter. We checked in and
enjoyed a final drink with the PAGEANT team, sadly missing Abdoulie,
still suffering from malaria.
Thanks for another great trip
- to the Gambian team including Linda, you have been fantastic
company, support and have worked very hard to ensure a successful
trip - thank you for all the laughs and good times! We wish you well
in the coming months and are counting the days until our next
And now for the PAGEANT prize giving....
Best dressed... Ellie
Most competitive... Page and Ian (how are they
going to fight that one out??!)
Most organised... Pippa
Consistently late to breakfast... Frankie and Caroline
Best story teller... Tina
Most adventurous compound toilet visitor...
Frankie and Ellie
Most active (often to be found in the gym)...
Best artist (and fish designer supreme)... Page
ladies wine drinker (according to the Bishop)... Ian
you team!! Until next time x x x x
Ps a huge thank you to
Dave for sprucing up the blog always written in haste and usually
late at night!!
19 April 2014 - Home again, home again.....
original blog post by Pippa
top of page >>
All safely home again
after a good (if rather bumpy) flight home. At one stage it seemed
as though we were still travelling on the Gambian country roads.....
MANY thanks to all the
team - what stars you all are. The impact of what you are all doing
continues to 'ripple out' - see below.
Here are some extracts
from a few emails that have arrived from various folk we met on our
"I just wanted to thank
you so so much from the bottom of my heart for the amazing day I
spent with you all and the unbelievable kindness and welcome you
showed me. (We) have never stopped talking about when and how we
could return to The Gambia and support what you do further since we
got back. The country, its people and Pageant have touched my heart
greatly. I hope you are continuing to have a fantastic time making
such an unbelievable difference to people's lives and giving people
such hope which is fabulous to see."
copied into email to
friends....."I just wanted to email you about a fabulous charity
that I have discovered doing great work out here in The Gambia.
Essentially (we) are planning to donate some money to support the
projects that they do"
"It was lovely to see you
in Gambia albeit very briefly - I really don't know how you manage
to do all what you do.. you are a true inspiration!! As soon as we
book our next visit I will let you know....... Please do let me know
if there is anything else that I can do in the meantime."
So, the next things will
be the annual newsletter, the Pageant summer party in July and then
packing stuff up to ship out in the summer (pallets this time, as I
don't think funds will allow for a whole container) - I hope to see
as many of you as possible during the summer.
Oh, I nearly forgot - the start to every day of
our trip was a really good Pageant breakfast....
Sports Day at Jambanjelly - the whole story
original blog post by Pippa
top of page >>
It has struck me, on reading through the blogged
diary of our last trip, that we never have time to tell the whole
story behind a particular event. So, here is the complete history
of our April 2014 Sports Day at Jambanjelly LBS, showing how many
people are involved and the effort that goes into just one small
Fund-raising for April trip by Pageant runners
(Frances, Rachel, Ellie, Caroline, Georgina, Charlotte, Ruth and
details of Richmond Spring Riverside Run
Group meeting to decide on age group and what we need to buy
(Tina, Pippa, Frances, Caroline, Ellie, Rachel, Ian)
equipment online: hoops, jump-sacks, eggs & spoons, hoppy racers,
soft-touch balls, bean-bags, cones, coloured team bands (Pippa)
smaller items locally: ‘medals’ (bag of 144 pieces of ‘golden
treasure trove’ from party shop), gold thread, ball pumps & adaptors
Check things already in The Gambia: whistles, finishing tape
Punch holes in all 144 ‘medals’ (Ben)
Pack all equipment up
for taking on flight and arrange additional baggage allowance
(Frances, Rachel, Ellie, Caroline, Tina)
In The Gambia: Beforehand:
Go to the school to arrange date and time of event, plus Grade
(school year) and number of children to be involved. Decide on
maximum of 80 children, boys and girls, from Grade 4 (Pippa, Ian,
Unpack and check all equipment (Frances, Rachel,
Thread ‘medals’ (Tina, Frances, Caroline, Ellie,
Rachel, Ann, Pippa)
Devise transport method
for (untangled!) threaded medals (Ian)
Pump up balls and hoppy
racers (Brian, Ian)
Check that the hoppy racers work OK (Frances,
Caroline, Ellie, Rachel)
On the day: (the Pageant
team comprises Tina, Frances, Caroline, Ellie, Rachel, Pippa, Ian,
Pack all the kit into the minibus to take to
Jambanjelly and drive to the school – about one hour, arriving at
On arrival at the school decide where the event will
take place – arrange the track layout, where the teams will wait
between races etc. Take all the equipment out and make a ‘safe
area’ where it will be kept during the event – Wandifa on guard!
School organises 80
children, 40 each of boys and girls, and they file out to the sports
ground (a sandy area just outside the main school compound). We
divide them into 4 teams, 10 boys and 10 girls in each team, and
issue them with team bands – red, blue, green and yellow. This is
the first time we have used the team bands and they work really
The event is organised so that the girls run the first
relay race of each type and then the boys – it is pretty chaotic to
start with, but they soon get the hang of it. We need a member of
the ‘team’ as an organiser at each side for each team – i.e. 8 of
us. With Wandifa ‘on guard’ and Pippa watching who wins and doing
the scoring we are one light, but one of the teachers steps in to
We start with a plain running relay race and then
progress through: bean-bags on heads, egg & spoon, hoop skipping:
and sack races.
Each race is
demonstrated by Frances, Caroline, Ellie and Rachel, usually
accompanied by gales of laughter…. The children usually do it much
better, particularly the bean-bags on heads!! The most difficult
for the children is the hoppy racers and the most popular is the
We finish up with under-and-over, using the soft-touch
balls instead of balloons – much better – after which all the teams
collapse on the sand.
The red team is the
winner by a margin of one point from yellow, but all the children
receive a medal and are all delighted with their morning.
By the time we finish
most of the school has come out to watch, as have several groups of
children from the village who are not in school. They have all been
very well behaved, but we have had to weed some ‘extras’ out of the
teams from time to time!
Many of the teachers have been watching
closely and we have explained that we are leaving all the equipment
with them so that the other children can have their own races later
on in the school year. The headmaster has been out to watch as well
and is delighted with our efforts – he is at pains to thank us for
our time and effort as well as for the equipment and says that this
will mean a great deal to the school.
All in all a great success
– MANY thanks to those who helped and everyone who sponsored the
Pageant runners to enable them to fund the whole thing.