PAGEANT - "Education is the future"
Pippa and Ian's story - How Pageant started
Our first visit to The Gambia was in February 2000, and was just a holiday to get some sun during the winter. It takes just under 6 hours to fly to Banjul, the capital, and wall-to-wall sunshine at ~ 35°C is guaranteed. Wonderful!
We enjoyed the holiday and returned the following year - this time we were braver and ventured further afield. We asked our hotel guide, Kemo, to take us to a school which was not on the tourist route, and so did not receive regular gifts from visitors. Kemo took our request seriously and took us across the river to the poorer, Northern side of the country, where we discussed which school we should visit with the assembled taxi drivers in the small town square.
They chose Bakalarr  And so - we were hooked...
The headmaster was astounded to have visitors and showed us round.. We discovered that the school did not have a single sheet of paper or spare exercise book in stock, the total games equipment was one deflated football, many of the floors were of sand, the roofs leaked, the few bits of school furniture were warped and peeling, the kitchen was in a terrible state.
There was no perimeter fence, so traffic could just drive across the school playground and the school garden was also unfenced We felt we should try to do something to help...
June 2001 - We sent a filing cabinet packed with paper, pens, pencils and other craft materials for use by the school, but a considerable part of it went astray due to being insufficiently labelled. We learnt a lesson from that...
October 2001 - We made an unheralded visit to the school to see how they were getting on. The headmaster was very cross with us for not letting him know we were coming...
January 2002 - We packed up a large number of boxes of materials for the school and for Kemo's village - this time we labelled everything carefully and sent packing lists out before the containers were unpacked. This lot arrived safely!
February 2002 - Next visit to Bakalarr: - having been ticked off by the headmaster last time for not letting him know we were coming, we arranged a mutually convenient date beforehand, via Kemo.
August 2002 - We packed up some more boxes of materials for the school and for Kemo's village of Jarreng  - we again labelled everything carefully and sent packing lists out before the containers were unpacked. One box from this lot went missing, so we have still not cracked this problem completely.
October 2002 - This time, we visited Bakalarr without warning again, hoping to see the children in class using the things we had sent - however, this was not to be! The children were once more sitting under the trees ready to give a presentation - this time to the Area Education Representative who was making a visit to assess the need of the school for funding of major repairs to the oldest school block.
October 2002 - Three schools, including Bakalarr, were each given a school microscope - partly sponsored by the RMS. No electricity, so a small tilting mirror was provided to enable sunlight to illuminate the samples. The members of the EMUS (a professional microscope user group) have agreed to sponsor prizes for the best drawings of things seen under the microscope - one prize per year group for each school.
October 2002 - We visited Jarreng Basic Cycle School - Jarreng is Kemo's home village - mainly to meet Kemo's family and also several of our sponsored children. Jarreng school is in much better condition than Bakalarr, but they are very short of materials.
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