t is now May 2009 and last week I returned from The Gambia after another successful visit. I took with me enough money for training nine villages, supplying five solar dryers, money for setting up six more sewing machine businesses and money raised by St. John's School, Baldock, for St Peter's of Lamin. As well as this I took all the children's sponsorship money for the next school year, as my next visit won't be until November. I'm pleased to say the feedback is very positive. It gets more difficult to follow up on all the projects, as we have started so many - over 130 women's groups trained in food preservation and more than 50 sewing machine businesses. Sarjo does his best to visit as many as possible when he goes on trek with the trainers.
Children have to have a uniform if they attend school and one village school has had the bright idea of contracting our sewing machine ladies to make all the uniforms. The parents then buy them direct from the school instead of finding their own tailor. This has made a big difference to the finances of the Women's Group.
In January last year Peter and I visited Kafuta village and gave them their two machines. They invited us back in January this year because they were so pleased with their success and wanted us to share it. They have been making bed sheets and selling them in all the neighbouring villages. I was so impressed with what they had done I agreed to their request for a tie-dye business so this time I visited them again and gave them the money to set it up. They told us they had made an amazing 4000 delasies since my last visit. (£100) This money is for communal use and will help enormously in the difficult rainy season coming soon.
These are just two of the success stories we have had and there are many, many more. The ten solar dryers already in use are proving invaluable and women are drying as much of their produce as possible in readiness for the coming rainy season, which usually causes a great deal of hardship. More and more people are asking for these dryers and unfortunately we cannot meet the demand at the moment it is so huge.
The week before I went to The Gambia an enthusiastic supporter of ours, Liz (See her report below), went for the first time and stayed in my house there. She kindly worked on behalf of the Charity by visiting the ladies of Lamin to give them their annual donation for fertilizer. She also supplied and delivered a solar dryer to a women's co-operative in Brikama and visited another of our projects, the library at Mayork Lower School. Kingsfleet Primary School in Ipswich has been raising money for this and I'm pleased to say the project is coming along well. We hope to establish a link between these two schools.
Sarjo is working hard as usual. I leave more and more of the decision making in The Gambia to him, leaving me the job of raising the money!
Thanks to all our loyal supporters. Without you we could never achieve what we have.
To those reading this for the first time I hope you will be inspired to find out more and help to make the Kabafita Fund even more successful.
Barbara and Sarjo's Trek Reports and experiences.