PAGEANT - "Education is the future"
Pageant Gambia Trip April 2014 - Blog Posts
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. Frankie, Caroline, Ellie and Rachel are part of a team of eight Pageant Runners who raised over £2000 in sponsorship by competing in the . There is a . 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!
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 guests!
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
9 April 2014 - Day 3 - Sports Day!
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
Sports Day at Jambanjelly - the whole story
[Pippa added this extra post after the trip had finished. It is placed next, instead of at the end, because it is all about the Jambanjelly LBS sports day.]
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 project.
in the UK
- Fund-raising for April trip by Pageant runners (Frances, Rachel, Ellie, Caroline, Georgina, Charlotte, Ruth and Alice) -
- Group meeting to decide on age group and what we need to buy (Tina, Pippa, Frances, Caroline, Ellie, Rachel, Ian)
- Order major equipment online: hoops, jump-sacks, eggs & spoons, hoppy racers, soft-touch balls, bean-bags, cones, coloured team bands (Pippa)
- Buy smaller items locally: 'medals' (bag of 144 pieces of 'golden treasure trove' from party shop), gold thread, ball pumps & adaptors (Pippa)
- Check things already in The Gambia: whistles, finishing tape (Tina)
- 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, Wandifa, Abdoulie)
- Unpack and check all equipment (Frances, Rachel, Ellie, Caroline)
- 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, Wandifa, Abdoulie)
- Pack all the kit into the minibus to take to Jambanjelly and drive to the school - about one hour, arriving at 9.15am.
- 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 well.
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 help out.
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 sack race.
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.
10 April 2014 - Day 4 - Lutheran LBS
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
11 April 2014 - Day 5 - Sauce Day
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 atin 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 bubbles!!
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 the next!
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
12 April 2014 - Day 6 - Manneh day
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 very quickly!!
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.
13 April 2014 - Days 7 - Ellie's knottage day!
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
14 April 2014 - Day 8 - Goat Day
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!!
15 April 2014 - Day 9 - Humanity Day
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!
16 April 2014 - Day 10 - Treat Day
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 we leave.
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 lose!!
17 April 2014 - Day 11 - all Christmases came at once!
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!!
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 meeting!
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 goat negotiator... Yankuba
- Best story teller... Tina
- Biggest tease... Wandifa
- Most adventurous compound toilet visitor... Frankie and Ellie
- Most active (often to be found in the gym)... Caroline
- Best artist (and fish designer supreme)... Page
- Best ladies wine drinker (according to the Bishop)... Ian
Thank 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.....
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 trip:
"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....