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Welcome to Autumn 2018 and our update from S4K. Looking back to August 2017’s blog, Sol had just had a new baby named after him. In the blink of an eye 1 year has passed and Toma Sol is now walking!
1 year ago we were hoping to find a new sponsor for Jomma who was lucky to find a wonderful new sponsor and she is now in the top 5 of her class. This is the difference having a sponsor makes. Jomma’s elder sisters are all sponsored and Jomma had been in school since the age of 5. If a new sponsor had not been found, the reality for Jomma would have been sitting with her mother at the side of the road, selling chili peppers or groundnuts and her future would have been the same as her mum’s. Education enables the kids to have a brighter future and gives them one thing money can’t buy. Hope.
Jomma and friends looking smart in new uniforms.
Our kids return to school around the 3rd week of September, later than their British counterparts. Did you know that Gambian kids don’t have half terms either? They go through until the end of the 1st term; in December. But Gambia has a LOT more bank holidays/public holidays than the UK. Lucky them huh.
S4K sponsored kids at the start of a new academic year, filled with hope and gratitude for your help.
Serey did a first-class job ensuring all the kids returned to school with new uniforms. It is not easy like the UK where you drive in your car on tarmac roads to a shop, browse through the clothes and buy with a card. All the uniforms are hand made by individual tailors. The parents walk to market to purchase material, visit the tailor who measures the kids, who sews the uniforms with a traditional sewing machine. All this takes weeks. To ensure all the kids were in school in September Serey walked on sandy roads where she caught a “giley giley”; sat with 14 other passengers, their chickens and fish to one stop. Got off to catch another- then walked on long dusty sand roads to the schools. We have been giving Serey extra money to cover her transport costs as we can’t expect her to use her £25 a month to pay for transport. It is the custom that “good” employers give their staff transport money to get to and from work. This is what Sol and Ginger aim to do, so having Serey to help has made a huge difference given Gingers continuing health limitations.
All the kids were so happy to be back in school, despite the rains continuing well into October this year. The rainy season was very late to arrive but is lasting longer this year. Global warming is very real.
One of our kids has been in and out of hospital having been diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes. Her distraught mum has been visiting Serey almost daily to ask to send a message to Ginger and Sol to see if they can assist with anything to help her. Ginger sought advice from other Diabetes sufferers and sent a sample menu considering Gambian food is based on rice 3 times a day, which is now a big no no for the little girl. She needs Insulin, needles, alcohol wipes and anything food related that is not rice or carb laden that could help her. Her (AMAZING) sponsor was able to source some items to assist but she needs more. If you have anything you think could help a small girl with Type 1 Diabetes please get in touch.
One very sick little girl.
Liz had been working hard sourcing clothing (old school uniforms and school bags) which are desperately needed. Not as school uniform, unless it is new girls’ dresses (which can be worn on Friday mornings when schools often adopt a more casual uniform day). As you know a big part of what S4K do aside from giving kids a brighter tomorrow through education, is supporting their journey with school resources including furniture, exercise books, sundries and clothes for kids who wear rags. That was the very beginning of S4K when we started out as Klothes4Kids.
Here some Gambians are delighted to receive and wear donated items. Thank you to all who sent kids clothes and shoes, they have a much-needed new home. Please remember due to the quantity of clothing donated it is not always possible to remember who donated what! But a selection of photos will always be included in our Gamblog posts.
S4K are asking for voluntary donations towards shipping our collected items to Gambia where it gives a smile and a sense of worth to many kids, their families and whole villages. One small example of this is the donation of wheelchairs, crutches and sticks to disabled people and a pushchair to a little boy with suspected Cerebral Palsy who is severely physically and mentally disabled. (Mohammed below)
This is not some Harry and Meghan happy news, but an example of what kind of pushchairs are suitable for the Gambian terrain which is deep sand.
S4K love receiving your old working bicycles. Every year we have been fortunate enough to have people give second hand bikes and our bigger kids who live a long distance from their schools certainly need them. Demba’s bike needed some TLC and he is so thankful to his sponsors for helping him get it up and working to enable him to ride to school. The 1 hour walk in the burning sun is a not so fun alternative.
Demba’s bike being repaired, thanks to his very kind sponsor who enabled this to happen.
Babou from Money Pipe is now doing his UK tour collecting items to ship for December arrival. If any sponsors want to send their kids any care packages please get in touch with Babou directly (details in your welcome pack). There is a “suggested items to send” list in your welcome pack but most sponsors tend to send age appropriate clothing, simple foods like pasta/tinned fruit and toiletries with something fun fo
r the kid to balance the school supplies. Any questions about this please contact one of the admin team. S4K also accept general donations of clothes/shoes/medical/educational/food items and bikes. PLEASE REMEMBER TO NOTIFY THE SPONSOR BOX COORDINATOR IF YOU ARE SENDING BOXES OR S4K ARE UNABLE TO TRACK AND DELIVER UNIDENTIFIED BOXES. His details are available upon request from the Admin team.
This week is Sol and Ginger’s Gambian wedding anniversary (they have two) which was a cultural splendour.
One sponsor couple went to drop off some general donations and a box for their little girl, to Ginger and Sol on a warm blue-skied weekend in Brighton. Sol and Ginger love meeting sponsors and report it was great to spend time with them and collect more donations towards helping others. Their little girls’ family had sent a gift for them. Their baby boy loved the fake Rolex more than his Daddy did!
Lots of thank you letters went from Gambia to the UK in Sol’s suitcase, and here a Grandpa is holding his much-treasured letter. As the kids learn, they love to draw and write to their sponsors saying thank you for all the help they have received. S4K sponsorship is a two-way relationship and you can choose to be as involved as much as your time allows.
People often ask S4K about the culture in Gambia and how it is different to England. Culture is made up of many parts:
Traditional medical cures:
Child Rearing Methods:
Each Gamblog is going to focus on one aspect of culture. Autumn 2018 will hopefully give you an insight into Gambian Languages. Each Tribe in Gambia has their own unique language. They are the Mandinka ethnicity which is the largest, Fula, Wolof, Jola, Serahule / Jahanka, Serels, Manjago, Bambara and Aku which originates from Sierra Leonne. Children grow up learning Wolof in the urban areas as it is the common tongue and their parents’ languages which could be any combination of those mentioned. Men and women from different ethnic groups inter-marry as do Muslims and Christians. In remote villages, Mandinka is the more populous language. Each language has its own distinct vocabulary some of which is found in similar words across the ethnic groups but mostly they are as induvial as the person speaking it. English is the official language of The Gambia and used across Government, industry and in education. This means a child who is lucky enough to attend school and has parents from Jola and a Fulani ethic groups for example, could speak up to 4 languages. Some schools also teach French at Middle school level and above.
In addition to these ethnic languages the Arabic salutation of “Salaamaaleekum”, meaning Peace be upon you and the reply, “Maleekum Salaam” (And peace be upon you) is the universal greeting among all Gambian family, friends, strangers etc.
As in many countries, each district has its own dialect and idioms unique to that area. This makes learning indigenous languages for visitors a challenge. It can also lead to confusion and misunderstanding; particularly when translated into English as many modern words do not exist in native speech. English is the only official written language although more recently there have been some attempts to write in Wolof. Wolof in particular is a difficult language (in Ginger’s opinion) to pronounce as many words being with two or three constants….Ngk, Mgn etc.
Saidibou age 7 and Ismaila age 9 both want to go to school. Please help them get an education.
These 2 boys pictured ABOVE are S4K kids of the month who NEED YOUR HELP. Both are bright buttons and for less than £9 PCM you can make their lives richer and brighter. Just by helping them get back into school where they belong. Please use the contact us button if you can help them.
As well as finding new sponsors for these two handsome boys, S4K are seeking donations of Laptops/PC’s/ Mobile ‘phones and Cameras. Our two Gambian ladies who work as paid employees need ‘phones and cameras to do their work, photographing your kids and calling schools, tailors, stationary shops etc to ensure a productive use of time and energy. Please get in touch with one of the admin team if you can help.
All of us at S4K HW wish you all a sun filled warm autumn and a happy and healthy time as winter in the UK approaches.