Blog Autumn 2017
And in news from S4K . Our kids are back in school. School term in Gambia starts a few weeks after the UK, but all our charges were back by the end of September. The usual uniform saga continues despite having pre-ordered 100+ uniforms from the school tailor (that’s just for our kids) 3 weeks later some kids are still waiting, in typical Gambian Maybe Time fashion (It’s not called GMT for nothing!) Part of the problem as you will read, is our tailors need electricity to sew the uniforms. When there’s no electricity for days/weeks and now months on end, everything grinds to a standstill unless your’e rich enough to have solar power.
Our kids were SO excited to start a new school. Lots of buzz about who is in who’s class/grade and who will get a chair or must share. Luckily, we have 50 + school chairs left over from last year which we are shipping to Gambia with a few school desks which have our kids’ names on them. School furniture is always in demand in Gambia which is why S4K charitable status is linked to us providing schools with educational items.
Sol has another “Toma” or “Tom” :a namesake. Our Leah and Tom will remember donating a mattress, clothes and toys to a family who live in a shack with their 5 kids. Mum gave birth to son number 4 and has named him after Sol, which is a big honour and one of the few ways people with nothing can show appreciation.
She says because all the help we have given her, she wanted to name the baby after one of us. Luckily it was a boy as there’s already a baby Ginger Badjie in Gambia! (Ginger’s Toma). Mum had to have a C Section and spent 6 days in hospital. I dread to think what kind of aftercare she did not receive. She is under strict instructions from Ginger not to fetch water from the well for at least 6 weeks. But reality means this is unlikely to adhered to. None of her 5 kids are sponsored because there is a waiting list and other kids who were in school, need to find new sponsors before we can help this family. Every week the kids will go to bed hungry without dinner as the family cannot afford food. Often, we will take a bowl of our left over dinner (what Demba hasn’t demolished) to the small kids, and it is that she says she wants to acknowledge by naming her baby after one of us. We would have preferred she went to family planning as a thank you, but this is not the UK and the culture is very different. Our values do not apply here.
Talking of water, the water situation has gone from bad to worse. Before we left for the UK we had to sit up until 3AM each night to store water, as no water came out the tap from 7am to 3am every night. Reports from Serey confirm they have had no water AT ALL for 3 days and they won’t be having any for another 3! Along with no power in Sweatober it is making all their lives more difficult than usual. The new democracy means people are taking to social media to complain but still nothing is being done to make life more bearable. http://thepoint.gm/africa/gambia/article/the-electricity-bane-1
There’s been a lot of international money invested into Gambia since the democracy and the power we (don’t) have is provided by old diesel fuelled generators left over from when the British were in Gambia. They keep trying to fix them, when solar or new technology could provide far more stable power. But at least now we can voice our views without being fed to the crocodiles! http://thepoint.gm/africa/gambia/article/police-exhume-six-bodies
2017 has been a series of challenges. January: a near coup d’etat resulting in being house bound for weeks. February: leptospirosis and Weils disease nearly resulted a one-way ticket to God. June: a spinal injury resulting in a series of hospital stays and procedures and the not so endearing prospect of spinal fusion for Ginger. July: Gingers brother in law had a near fatal heart attack. September, more family health problems, which are too personal to write about now. We can’t tell you how our hearts were filled with something other than sadness, worry and grief when someone took on 13 kids who lost their sponsors.
A big Abaraka Bake to “you know who”. Sallymatta in particular who had her first epileptic fit when she was told she had lost her sponsor and who literally jumped up and down when told her had a new sponsor and could join her friends in their new school. We still have some very needy orphans and other deserving previously sponsored kids looking for good committed sponsors to see them through their education.
Sallymatta and friends:
If you have friends or family you don’t know what to buy for Christmas, why not consider gifting a year’s sponsorship for one of these beautiful smiley cherubs like Jomma, below?
On the back of that great news, we got to meet Tom and Leah’s much waited for baby boy who will have to grow into his African dress the sponsor family sent as a gift for Tom & Leah. Strolling in the sunshine eating 99’s was part of an idyllic weekend followed by meeting Ginger’s new twin niece and nephew.
An impromptu Gambian night; thanks to Sol’s amazing culinary skills saw us meet another new sponsor, Kiera and enjoy the company of Tina, Tim P and Jackie and Brain who have taken over Abli Cham/Joof. One chicken Yassa, one apple pie, one Victoria sponge later the elasticated waist trousers were most welcome.
Badjie’s bake off continued as we spent a week in wet Wiltshire “babysitting” a very dear friends 8 year old. I don’t know who was more traumatised, him or us!
And finally, a huge thank you to the S4K team who keep S4K ticking over. Amanda, Nicky, Sarah and Liz. We wouldn’t be here without you. One Love