Gam Blog ~ Winter 2017

Season’s Greetings S4K Famalam

Brrrrrr HOW COLD IS UK IN DECEMBER?!??! Bit of a culture shock for Ginger, having her first English winter for a long time. In flip flops. In our last blog post, we eluded to family health problems. Ginger’s dad was diagnosed with cancer at the end of October. A series of operations and medical interventions later, Ginger is caring for her dad 24/7 as much as her on going issues with her “complex” spinal problems allow. It seems like the last 10 weeks have been a series of hospital visits for both Ginger and her dad; neither one of which is resolved. We know a couple of you have been affected by cancer so will understand the devastating impact it has on the whole family. Due to this Ginger made the decision to remain in the UK to support her dad, kissing goodbye to Sol in November who had to return to Gambia due to UK Visa restrictions and their dogs needing their Papa.

The day before Sol returned, their dog sitter rang to say Skinnie Minnie, the dog they rescued while renting their first compound in 2011 had died L She had been ill for a few weeks and frustratingly no vet would go out to visit and put her out of her misery. ‘Phone calls from UK to Gambia begging vets to visit did not elicit a positive response. Just one of the daily hurdles life in Gambia, one must jump. Dogs are not allowed in Taxi’s or on gilley gilleys and it was too far for the poor old girl to walk or be carried. Knowing Skinnie Minnie was suffering was torture for Ginger. Like 2017 hadn’t enough shit to shovel out of the way already.

R.I.P Skinnie Minnie.


You came to us a bag of bones, a severe attitude problem along with a litter of mango worm ridden pups who all lost their lives (again because the shit vets in Gambia refused to do home visits). You bit and growled at everyone until you were certain we were not going to abuse you. Eventually you came for belly rubs and grooming, but drew the line at a bath. You chased snotty nosed kids who threw stones at our compound. You attacked and deterred would be “Sarchay’s” that’s burglars to most of you. You had a final litter of pups before we managed to have you spayed, and your one surviving pup; Bongo misses you as much as we do. Pabi, Sol’s nephew and dog sitter had the task of burying her in the empty compound next to Badjie Kunda. Sol arrived back the following day to two depressed pups who were missing her. And a scorpion had moved into the compound, probably attracted by the huge termite mound he found in our garage.

Once home Sol spent time catching up with family before checking on your kids. All those who transferred to new schools are doing amazing. Special shout out to Abli Conate (Sue S) and Mohammado (Rebecca B). Abli was put in grade 6 but warned by the head if he couldn’t keep up he would be demoted. He has risen to the challenge and the Head reports he is star of his class and Mohammado who has always been top of his class continues to shine and impress his new teachers. Demba has been made school Counsellor, akin to a peer elected Prefect. Proud sponsor mum moment for Cat and for Ginger & Sol as his adoptive parents. Omar (Kiera) has been elected head boy of his year group and his sister Fanta (Penny & Carole) school representative for girls. Reports from Serey confirm the kids love their new school and all are happy apart from Anta, (who lost her mum the year Tim took her on). Her mum passed away leaving Anta then 13 and a new born baby. Anta had been living with a female relative and her husband. Sadly, the step father passed away weeks before Sol returned.

  Omar & Fanta

Due to Gingers’ circumstances we have no RGE guests at the moment, meaning Sol can focus on the kids and getting the items Ginger and Sol collected in the summer sorted out once it arrives in the next couple of weeks. Ginger paid £2000 to get general donations on a shared container with Moneypipe this year. This is the last year Ginger will be sending a container and self-funding it. S4K charitable constitution is based on providing educational support for kids. We are going to have to re-think this.

Sol got to meet is “Toma” Baby Sol. Ginger sent Sol home with 25KG of stuff, mainly cheese and baby stuff for the new arrival. The siblings had to settle for some “Minties” until the boxes of general donations arrive with clothes and shoes for them.

A couple of boxes arrived for Kelly’s kids, both of whom were thrilled with such generous thoughtful gifts. A box marked “charity” with no sender name was also collected by Sol from Moneypipe’s warehouse around a 40-minute round trip away and donated to a family in a village near Brufut. To whoever sent the ladies and kids clothes with toothpaste. They thank you. If you are sending general donations via Moneypipe please put the sender name on it so we know who to thank. If you have teenage girls, one of our sponsors, Mandy has a friend who is making washable sanitary towels. Enquiries to Mandy Lilley please. The grim alternative is using and washing an old rag. The cost of disposable sanitary towels is way beyond the financial reach of our families.


Ami & Bakary with wonderful gift boxes in time for Christmas. Two village kids with general donations. One Love

Lots of our kids have a penchant for giving Ginger gifts of livestock. In lieu of being able to give monetary bought gifts. In a country where livestock is common we have accrued various animals in the past. Rodney and Rupert, two Cockerels given to say thank you for sponsoring a family of orphans. Lots of offers of flea ridden cats and dogs. But the prize this year goes to PaOus who found a West African Mud Turtle on his summer holidays in Senegal and brought it back for Ginger. I wish I could upload the video of how fast it was. Which is what gave us the clue it was not a tortoise as first thought. Google had the answer and when we discovered its true identity it was quickly dispatched to the river from whence it came and where it belongs. Life is never dull, that’s for sure. What did come out of this, was PaOus had a lesson in Ecology and the importance of letting animals live in their natural environment and why. Bless him, he did not complaint once. We thought he may be upset, having got attached to it and wanting to give it to Ginger as a gift, but true to his nature he agreed the Mud Turtle belonged with his family in the river.

Reports from Gambia confirm the power and water nightmare continues. Despite “NOWEC”, the no water and electricity company are still promising power and water are “on their way coming”. While we try and joke about this. The reality is; babies and sick people are dying due to no power, drinking dirty well water. Days without power and water means medicines are not refrigerated. Food is not stored at the right temperature while the ambient temperature is 30+ degrees. Disease spreads when people do not have enough fresh water to wash away excrement. Sol, along with everyone else who wants enough water to wash in a bucket, gets up at 3am when a dribble of water comes out the tap. Ginger may be missing Gambia, the kids and her Gambian family but she is sure as hell not missing washing in a cold bucket of water and eating dry bread because it is the only safe thing to eat. Tailors and welders are going out of business as there is not enough power to sustain their businesses. This will have a tremendous impact on their families when the main breadwinner can no longer provide for his family. 22 years of misrule and misappropriation of public funds have left the country in dire straits. This is where general donations of kids clothes and shoes ( and toothpaste) helps the poor.


With all these news reports, please take the time this Christmas to cherish who you have around you. Family and loyal friends are the most important thing we have. A special mention to Tina who has been a rock with medical support for Ginger. Enjoy your time away from work. Lavish your special people with love. Eat too many chocolates. Drink too much egg nogg. And pray 2018 brings good health and happiness to each and every one of you who sponsors one of our kids.



  1. Lynne Dexter
    December 5, 2017

    Ahh, wow!
    Thanks for the update and so sorry you are still having a testing time.
    Sounds like the children have settled in their new schools though and doing
    well. Happy Christmas to your family here and apart. Xx

    • Amanda
      December 6, 2017

      Happy Christmas to you all too Lynne xx

  2. Lorraine & Alan
    December 20, 2017

    Big hug to you all – such a lot to do and supporting family through tough times is hard in ‘normal’ circumstances – take care both of you Lx

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