PAGEANT - "Education is the future"
Pageant Gambia Trip March/April 2016 - Blog Posts
As usual, a group of Pageant members has travelled to The Gambia to visit families and schools. There will be some creative lessons and lots of fun. Frances and will be attempting to post their news from The Gambia on the. We will collect these posts on this page so you can see them all in one place.
24 March - Back in The Gambia
Once again a team from Pageant is back in The Gambia for the regular Easter trip. And once again there are problems with internet access, so Frances is sending text and photos by email, and Dave the Webmaster is uploading the posts on Blogger. Here is the first post....
Hello everyone! This year's Easter team is a little smaller than planned, but just as enthusiastic! Tina is our deputy "head girl" and is accompanied by Frances, Rachel, Ellie and Caroline (who is due to arrive on Monday). We plan to visit lots of compounds, do a couple of maths and sports sessions in schools and catch up with lots of sponsored children and their families. There may also perhaps be a trip up country to look forward to!
We arrived safely and were greeted by three very smiley PAGEANT Gambians at the airport. We have lots to do this trip so are starting with an early night so that we are fresh and raring to go tomorrow. Stay tuned for more updates and photos during our stay (apologies for the light in the photo).
Love to all at home X
25 March - Day 2 - Finding our feet
Good evening all. We have had a brilliant full first day. It started with a leisurely 9:30am pick up to begin our compound visits. First we headed to Linda's house to pick up some charity bits and to check in with her. Then it was off to visit Ebrima's compound, who is sponsored by Rachel. It was good to finally meet his father. Next stop was Jonsaba's compound where we were pleased to find her and Mo Lamin both looking well. She was very pleased to receive a new handbag full of goodies and is excited at the prospect of starting her own small business.
Our third stop was to the Manneh compound which is always a favourite of ours. We were pleased to see them looking well and are sending our best wishes to Mariama who is currently in hospital after a fall. Next we visited Wandifa's compound briefly to catch up with his lovely children and some other sponsored children, including Aminata who is sponsored by Ellie. She was very proud to show us her excellent school report. On the way back, we called in at another couple of compounds to collect and deliver letters, before enjoying a quick swim and happy hour cocktail at the hotel. We have just returned from a lovely dinner with Linda and are turning in for the night.
Special shout out to Pippa- we cannot count on two hands how many people send their best wishes to you and Ian. Lots of love X X X
26 March - Day 3 - in search of a bargain!
Good evening all!
Today we were a man down as Tina was poorly but the rest of the team leapt into the breach. We headed into Banjul first thing which felt like going home! It was lovely to see some of our FE students and catch up with their latest news. We collected letters, handed out sponsorship money and then went to the market to spend all the money from the Pageant gift token scheme.
We put our bargaining skills to the test and came away with some great deals on mosquito nets, cooking pots and bowls, buckets and other gifts. We will be handing these out over the next few days to those who we feel are in need. We have a busy day planned for tomorrow so are planning an early night in preparation. X
27 March - Day 4 - Parachutes and presents
Hello everyone! Today was another busy and hot day. We began by visiting a couple of FE students, paying fees and collecting letters. We had a lovely catch up with Isatou, one of our most chatty, outgoing and accomplished students.
Then it was on to visit Wandifa's brother Baba and his family, where we met their new baby girl and introduced the children in the village to parachute games! We also delivered gift token items to them including cooking pots, bowls and buckets. Fatoumatta, their oldest daughter, proudly showed us her garden where she is busy growing onions in preparation for Ramadan (note to Ann and Brian- she would love some packets of tomato and lettuce seeds to grow before the rainy season).
After that, we headed to Siffoe to meet up with more sponsored children
and collect letters for sponsors. We enjoyed some delicious, freshly
peeled oranges fresh from the market this afternoon and have had a nice
catch up with Linda at dinner. Once again the Gambian Pageant team were amazing!
More news tomorrow! X
28 March - Day 5 - Caroline arrives
Hello! Today was one of our busiest yet. We began the day with a visit to Kotukala School, followed by a visit to Abdoulie Touray's new compound. Abdoulie's children were very well and enjoyed some fun games of frisbee, and Mama, his second daughter, was delighted with her presents from her sponsor.
On our way back to the main road, we bumped into Samboujang which was a lovely surprise. We were pleased to see him looking so well and happy - he is now so tall! Next stop was Fak's nursery where we were greeted by three sponsored FE girls who are all studying automotive engineering. They are all doing very well and are definitely bright, hard-working women determined to succeed.
Fatou informed us that the women's group are now on their second rotation of the Pageant loan scheme, after all the women paid back their money within three months instead of six! We talked in detail about Fak's latest projects with him before heading off to the airport to meet Caroline! The plane was very late but we kept busy making Caroline a delightful welcome sign.
Once Caroline had come through security, we did a spot of shopping to buy resources for some newly sponsored students. Finally we met up with Foday, an electronics engineering student, who is in need of some new tools.
Back at the hotel, we went for a run along the beach before heading
out for dinner. We have just sorted all the sports equipment ready
for our sports day at Lutheran tomorrow!
Goodnight all x
29 March - Day 6 - green team victory!
Hello everyone at home. Today was sports day at Lutheran LBS. The grade four children had come in during their Easter holidays especially for our visit. They had great fun despite the scorching sun running, hopping, jumping and relaying. They especially loved the skipping, sack and egg and spoon races!
Special thanks goes to our star starter, Wandifa, who we will be recommending for a starring role in Rio 2016!!! Green team came out victorious thanks to their enthusiasm and team work.
We finished the morning with the ever popular parachute, playing lots of games including the much loved spinner game (Washing Machines).
After the school, we had a tour of Wandifa's new compound, which is looking brilliant, and then went on to see his family at home. It was lovely to see Alieu who is sponsored by Frances and catch up with the others once they had finished their extra classes at school.
Our final stop was to Abdoulie's compound where we treated the children to a slightly late Easter treasure hunt! The children had such fun finding the Easter chicks! We then played frisbee, bouncy ball games and skipping with the children. It was great to meet Abdoulie's little girl, who is beautiful, and see Mustapha again looking so happy and cheeky! We began some goat negotiations with some local people and will keep you posted with this!
Lots of love to all at home X
PS Ian, your jokes are missed!! Big hugs.
30 March - Day 7 - maths day
Hi all at home. We have had another good day here, which started with a trip to Kings Kid Academy to do our maths workshop.
16 children from grades 2 and 3 turned up during their holiday for some fun games surrounding number and place value. They loved using the dice, carpet tiles, mini whiteboards and other games and it was a delight to see such bright mathematicians among them.
Our next stop was to visit Yankuba's lovely new house in which he took great delight in showing us. It is looking light and airy and he is very happy there. He treated us all to drinks at his home and introduced us to his new friends and neighbours.
We hope you like our Pageant team picture- top marks for those of you who can guess what we are trying to spell!!! In preparation for tomorrow and our trip up country, we had a lazy afternoon at the hotel. We even joined in with some Dutch aerobics and are now exhausted!
More news from us on Friday as we imagine tomorrow will be a late one!
Night all X
31 March - Day 8 - hip hip hooray!
What an adventure! Today we left at 5am for our long drive up country. On the way going we collected and gave out several letter forms for sponsored children, including one boy who had one of the best reports we have ever seen! We arrived in Janjanbureh (formerly Georgetown), which is the furthest we have ever been up country, at about half past 10 (as ever, Abdoulie was spot on with timings!). Janjanbureh is on McCarthy Island, about an hour East from Jarreng, Yankuba's home village. We saw snakes, baboons and lots of birds on the way, as well as busy villagers, starting out their days.
We found ourselves a boat and off we went down the River Gambia in search of hippos. We were rather nervous due to discussions over the days leading up to our trip as hippos can be dangerous creatures. We had been told that pregnant women are not allowed on boat trips to see hippos as a hippo had once flipped a boat! However, as we didn't fear this, we decided to give it a go! The wildlife we saw was incredible! This is what we saw: colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, Eagles, black and white kingfishers, a monitor lizard, vultures, weaver birds and their incredible nests, donkeys, African dada birds, hornbills, Abyssinian rollers, egrets, black and white herons and A HIPPO!!! We also enjoyed some delicious mango which was ripe due to the proximity of the river. The hippo was amazing to see and we were very lucky as many people go without catching a glimpse.
After the boat trip, Yankuba proudly showed us round his old Senior Secondary School, Armitage SSS, where we also met Lamin, a sponsored student currently studying there. We looked around the dormitories and grounds which were still the same as when Yankuba was there, apart from being rather run down.
Next stop was to Soma, to visit the health centre there, where a Pageant sponsored student now works. We delivered the gift token mosquito nets and buckets, as well as some clothes and children's toys to them and were met by some lovely ladies who's babies are in the centre to help them gain weight. They all seemed delighted with the gifts we had taken.
On the way back to the hotel, we collected another couple of letters and bought some firewood and mint for Wandifa. We arrived back at about half past 9, luckily just in time for some well-earned dinner of chicken yassa and butterfish. What a day!
1 April - Day 9 - team dinner
Hello everyone! Not much to report from today as we treated ourselves to a lazy day, after our trip up country yesterday. We enjoyed some free time at the hotel and most of us caught slightly too much sun!
In the evening we went for a fun dinner with Wandifa, Abdoulie, Modou and Linda. Wandifa in particular was on great form and thoroughly enjoyed his chocolate cake! It was lovely to hear all about Modou's studies and the possibility of him going abroad for a short placement in a hospital. We are keeping his fingers crossed that he is one of the lucky few who will be able to do so.
2 April - Day 10 - treat time!
Today was definitely a favourite of ours! Due to it being street cleaning day, we were stuck at the hotel in the morning, so we continued our lazy day! In the afternoon it was time for treat day! We had 6 children and 3 adults join us, alongside the Pageant team and began with a feast of chicken yassa and chips.
We then played frisbee and football rounders on the beach before having a quick paddle in the sea. The children were all so keen on the water that we then treated them to a swim in the pool, which was definitely the highlight of their day! Alaghie was a superstar, swimming with complete confidence. His smile was bigger than ever despite his teeth chattering from the moment he got in! To end the day we gave out small gifts to all the children and adults and then waved goodbye to a bus of very smiley, rather exhausted children!
3 April - Day 11 - goats, rice and crocs!
Today was our last full day - our trip has flown by! We had an early start to make the most of the time and began with a trip to Serekunda market to buy three large sacks of rice. We then delivered these sacks, along with the remaining cooking pot and bowl, to three families, identified by Wandifa and Yankuba to be in need of support. They were all received very gratefully- one lady was so overwhelmed, it was very clear that the gift meant so much and that it would really help her family.
Goat negotiations came next and Yankuba took the lead here. We managed to secure a healthy looking pregnant goat for a lady who is in great need. We arranged for the goat to stay in its current compound until the lady has finished building her goat house so that the goat can be safe.
Next, we headed to Banjul to meet with Naba and Modou Jeng for a drink. It was lovely to catch up with Naba who is working very hard just like Modou. She looked beautiful as ever and we wish them both the best of luck in their upcoming exams.
This afternoon, we met Linda for a late lunch at Calypso, a restaurant overlooking a crocodile pool and the beach. We enjoyed a very lovely meal and saw at least 12 crocodiles, including one eating an eel! We were also joined by a charming little monkey who proved to be great entertainment!
Tomorrow we will return home. This trip has been a huge success,
thanks to everyone's hard work and enthusiasm. We have hugely
missed having Pippa and Ian here, but as ever, Wandifa, Yankuba
and Abdoulie have been superstars and lots has been achieved.
Abdoulie, you have driven us safely and have looked after us so well.
Wandifa, you have been a great organiser and a wonderful comedian
and have ensured our trip be productive and lots of fun. Yankuba,
ou have managed to juggle and organise so much and always manage
to make sure things happen as they should, while always watching
out for us and laughing at our jokes. Well done and a huge thank
you to everyone involved.
Until next time...
Signing off....... until next time!
The last few hours of a trip are, as ever, a flurry of packing suitcases, paying last bills, fond farewells - and the inevitable final sponsor letters to zip into hand luggage that are pressed into our hands as we go through passport control. These always provide excellent reading material on the plane home, and we are so pleased to hand them on to our wonderful members who sponsor so many children and students during the year.
Having said a big "thank you" to our fabulous Gambian 'A' Team of Wandifa, Abdoulie and Yanks, it remains only for me to say a further heartfelt thank you to Frances (Frankie), Caroline, Rachel and Ellie whose good humour, excellent organisational skills and adventurous spirit ensured a great trip, filled with much laughter and fun. Thank you also girls for working out the finances - only you know how lost I would have been if it had been left to me to do!
Hopefully we shall all be able to do another trip in the future
(once we have recovered from this one!).
Note from Pippa:
I am posting this for Tina, and would just like to add my thanks to ALL of them - I just wish I had been able to be there as well.... never mind, next time, hopefully...