It's time for another newsletter again. Everything is continuing to go well for the Charity. Money is coming in steadily and requests for help are rolling in. Thank you to those who give on a regular basis. For many months of the year this is the only income we receive and we do rely on it. I am having an interview with the W.I. next month to try and get more talks to boost funds. Chris Turner is kindly organising another Charitea Dance on 2nd November at 4.30 in Welwyn Civic Centre to raise funds - all welcome.
As most of you know Sarjo came in June for a well earned holiday. It was a most successful and very busy trip. Many of you met him and were impressed by his dedication to the Charity and lovely personality. He enjoyed meeting you all and experiencing our beautiful country. During his first week he got up every day at 6.30 in the morning and walked round the garden looking at the flowers and trees. He loves roses and plants. We visited Cambridge, Whipsnade Zoo, where he saw his first elephant, Oxford where he steered Claire's narrow boat down the Thames (a highlight), London, where we did the usual sights including the Eye and the Albert Hall which absolutely amazed him. We spent a day at my brother Peter's in Suffolk and another with Sally, Chris, Jane and Mervyn's in Sussex where we had a wonderful BBQ and an invigorating walk on the South Downs Way. He also joined the dancing at Friday Folk - very different from his traditional dancing! My thanks to all of you and everyone else we met who helped make his visit such a memorable event. It was a big culture shock for him but he coped very well and has gone back to The Gambia with renewed enthusiasm.
June and July are the months when there are thousands of mangoes falling from the trees and rotting because people don't know what to do with them. We gave solar drying frames to villages in the past so they could preserve them for the rainy season where there is very little food but we were never sure if they were being used. All of a sudden the idea has caught on and many villages want them. Sarjo came with a list of six villages and while he was here Liz, one of our supporters, did a sponsored run and raised an amazing £600. Within three weeks of Sarjo arriving home five villages had received frames and training in their use. Each frame was given to a central village and told that others round about should be able to use it. At one village a group of ladies arrived the day after training, having walked three miles with baskets of mangoes on their heads, wanting to use the frame which was already in use. There was a big argument and Sarjo was called back to come and sort it out. They now have a rota.
There have been so many requests for help from all over The Gambia that we are slightly overwhelmed. Sarjo has had to "close the book" until we have cleared the projects on our list. They include the renovation of a school room in Foni Bondali to form a library with shelves and books. Diane is in charge of this project with sponsorship from Kingsfleet School, Ipswich. We have promised another village to fence their vegetable garden as soon as wells can be dug. This is a slow process but the lime plants which will be used to reinforce the fence are growing well. The women of Giborokuta have asked for a poultry rearing project which we have agreed to. I will take funding for this, along with money for more drying frames, when I go out in November. Just these few projects will cost over £1000 and don't include the ongoing sewing machine project (a BIG thank you to Robin and Mike who work so hard to keep us supplied) and the food preservation project. You can see why we are keen to get more funds!
Thanks to all of you who sponsor children. All the fees have been paid to the schools and the children have started in their new grades. If you would like details of how your children are doing please let me know. I will end with Sarjo's own words to you.
"Thanks to Barbara and Peter who invited me to the UK. My visit is very important both to the Charity and me. I have learnt a lot during my visit. My English has improved a bit and it makes me feel more confident in myself. I wish all the donors and friends of the Charity a healthy life so that you can continue to support the Charity. Without you the people will not get help".
Barbara and Sarjo's Trek Reports and experiences.