Registered Charity Number: 1135446
Well February saw me travelling to The Gambia again. This was my 20th time - about time I got a free flight I think! As always I had a list of things I wanted to do - so did Mucki, so we combined notes and made a very rough plan. The first day I managed to see about 50 children and they all wrote their letters. Over the following two weeks, we held several sessions whereby children got together in a classroom to write letters and have photos taken. For the younger children, I write a basic letter on the blackboard which the children copy. They can add something if they want to. There are now just too many children to sit with them all individually. The older children of course do not need so much help.
Almost every day I spent with children either in their schools or compounds with their families. They are all eager to tell me about their schooling. I can see the difference in them each time I see them, they are confident, happy, healthy and feel they have a future. We also called a meeting with the university students. Not all of them came for one reason or another but those who did told me all about their courses and university life. It's a struggle though - living expenses are higher than was estimated, and they need a lot of resources, so we have decided to give them each £100.00 from the next Gift Aid payment.
Mucki is working tirelessly of course! In fact he has worked 14 hours a day for the past 7 months. We have had a steady trickle of new sponsors over the last few weeks -mainly due to Mucki promoting the charity to tourists, the total now is about 460.
A few children have recently finished school now. Employment is a problem - but at least they are best placed to secure a job when they arise. A lot of families have small market stalls and sell fruit, vegetables etc, so the children are helping with these. A huge advantage is that they are now helping their siblings read and write and also their elders. Years ago education was limited to only a few people who could afford it. Many of the sponsored children are going back into schools to help younger children too.
The charity is doing really well and we are pleased that so many children are having the chance of an education. Mucki and I are totally committed and spend a huge amount of time and effort to ensure that this happens. But we acknowledge that without the people financing their individual children, this would not happen. So thank you for being part of it. For both of us - to see a child thrive at school in all sorts of ways fills us with so much joy and the determination to continue.
However, the biggest/ time consuming problem for Mucki is to get to all the children to organise them writing letters. Writing letters is not in The Gambian culture - it is quite difficult for a child to understand the concept. We feel that the most important thing is for Mucki to spend his time to ensure that the children are going to school and doing the best they can do. Some teachers in schools help with this but teaching in The Gambia is an exhausting. The writing of letters is of secondary importance. Of course, he will always do the best he can. The biggest/ time consuming problem for me is when people do not pay their annual payment on time! I always give about 6 weeks notice and the reminders will be sent to you at the same time each year. A couple of years ago I divided people into three groups - this is for ease of administration and costs. The transfer of funds to the SAGC bank account in The Gambia takes about two weeks. If schools do not receive the money for the children, they will not allow them to attend. This has happened in the past and puts a huge amount of pressure on Mucki also. Please be mindful if this next time you hear from me!
I don't suppose any of you read Hello! Magazine do you?! SAGC was featured in the on-line version ! Mucki was host to a group of travel journalists and they wrote an article -10 reasons to go The Gambia! Mansa Colley Bojang School and Sponsor A Gambian Child was written about!
Other things I did....
First aid courses. I absolutely love doing this! I visit schools and teach students and teachers basic first aid. I leave them posters so other people can learn from them, so far I have trained 463 people.
•Brikama Health Centre. I spent a morning at this amazing clinic shadowing Buba, a senior health nurse in his consulting room and spending time in different areas of the clinic. Next time I want to be a bit more useful so I will arrange for someone to give me a job to do! In the afternoon I got on the back of Buba’s motorbike and visited his patients in the community who are house bound. Such fantastic work and care is given with so little resources. Medical supplies are urgently needed – if you have any bandages, plasters, painkillers etc, please send them to me so I can take them next time.
•Parcels. Lamin from LSJ Logistics collected 18 boxes/bags last week. They set sail to Banjul on Tuesday 20th April and will take about four weeks. The children do so enjoy hearing from you – most of them receive something, those children who do not, Mucki has some spare things to give them.
•Knitting groups. Some of the groups are still knitting! Again, they need wool, cottons, fabric etc. Please let me know if you have some. Several schools also asked me if I could supply them with sewing resources.
So to finish… thank you again to everyone for your support. Please spread the word – there are so many more children who need to go to school!