Peter came this time so there was lots of bird watching along with the charity work. We arrived at Banjul airport early evening. Thomas Cooke changed the flights to land early evening rather than early afternoon. There had been a near-miss with a circling vulture.
When I was there last I visited Bantanjang Lower School near Mayork. We had given them a sewing machine so we took a look to see how things were going. They were making uniforms for the children and doing very well teaching adults to sew. The women asked us if would give them soap making and a tie-and-dye business. These things are very costly so they had to decide one or the other. There was heated discussion but in the end they chose tie-and-dye. (Three weeks later Sarjo arranged for people to come from Banjul with all the material and dyes. The teaching went extremely well and they are now making money). On our way out the headmaster asked us to plant a tree in commemoration of our help.
The next Saturday we had the Government car and off we went to a village near Soma to take the machines. We handed over one electric and one manual. What we didn’t know was that there were three women’s groups and we had given them to the wrong group! To make things better I promised to give the other two a drying frame each and they were very happy.
On the way home we delivered two more machines and visited Karror to discuss chickens. They had been doing well with the broilers but we asked them if they would like to try layers instead. The women were very enthusiastic. As I am writing this the chicks are there and doing well. In the last few years Karror have lost their couscous due to lack of rain so I took 18 packets of sunflowers to see if that would do better.
Sarjo is working harder than he has ever been. Every day he has at least ten calls from women who want frames or machines. Unfortunately there are now no tele-centres near him so that he can’t send me his trek reports. We are looking into providing him with a tablet and installing WiFi in the house. This will make communication much easier. Nearly every week he goes on bush taxis to visit villages who invite him to come and see how well they are doing. A few weeks ago six villages got together to show off how well they were doing and how much money they had made. They invited him to come and adjudicate. He was amazed as to how well they are managing their businesses and they were all so good that he was unable to choose a winner. He said they were ALL amazing.
There has been hardly any rain so far this year. People are very worried. Those who have frames are drying as much as they can. Let’s hope it comes soon. The Gambian Chief Imam has just asked everyone to pray for rain and to plant trees to replace those being cut down by the Chinese.
Claire, my daughter, has taken over as secretary and has built a new website. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Roger Swaine for all his help over the past years and maintaining the older one.
Thank you all for your continuing support,
Barbara and Sarjo's Trek Reports and experiences.