This is the time when I usually let you know how I got on in The Gambia, but as things developed with the Coronavirus, it was soon clear that I would not be able to go this March.
This will be a short update as Gambia has no tourists and people are told not to have gatherings. It is very difficult to know how many people have the virus there.
Sarjo isn't going out as much as usual but he still has plenty of calls for our help. The government cars are not available and there are not so many bush taxis on the roads if needed. Nevertheless he continues to make urgent visits.
I have included four of his earlier emails written before the CV-19 crisis. They give an interesting insight into his work for us and I hope you enjoy reading them.
Thank you all again for your support.
Wednesday, 15 January 2020. Trek
I spoke to the lady from Karol while she was at Bwiam market looking for left-over okra and egg plant for their dryer. I told her what we discussed yesterday. They have to send the money now in order to book the chicks - if they book late, then they won't get them until March. This will leave the hen house empty and they don't like that.
Good news – the exchange rate went up from D65 to D67 so I made 2 more dalasis per pound – in total D3,400 extra.
On Friday am, I going to Jakoi village in the Foni Cansala to give 3 groups okra, tomatoes, cabbage, pepper and bitter tomato seeds.
On Tuesday if possible, am off to Kabamb at their invitation for me to see how wonderful they dry sweet potatoes. The same day, I will visit Jomokunda to see how they are getting with their drying. Many Women’s cafos are doing lots of drying to keep for the rains because last season, some families were very very hungry. Many fear that rice is becoming very expensive and that's why they are very lucky to get the dryers and making good use of them.
During my last trek we visited Sofora Women’s Group and they have 120 pkts of dry cassava. With the sweet potatoes I learn that you can make cherreh which is one of our common foods. Knowing this, lots of communities will grow more sweet potatoes and we will need more dryers – especially if with climate change, we continue to have less rains.
Tuesday, 28 January 2020. Trek
It was a very difficult day yesterday here in The Gambia with demonstrations against the government.
The handing over and training on processing on Friday and Saturday went very well and both groups were busy cooking and drying.
We had to do the handing over early on Sunday at 10 am because we had to return home before noon with the government car.
Part of Westfield was on fire - I watched it again on the BBC news and they show some but not all of it. Many people are still in the hospital and some in the prison. One of Awa's friends was involved and was put in prison - her family went to see her there today. At the moment everything is normal but they are arresting anyone they suspect was involved - so it's a bit quiet.
Wednesday, 19 February 2020. Trek
It's a hot day today with little breeze. Hope the weather there is good. It was a very successful visit to Kajamo Women’s kafo. This kafo live in a very remote area and have no idea that there are charities who can help them when needed.
Sometime ago, we gave this Women’s Group 2 sewing machines, and on that day they were very very pleased and promised to make the machines benefit them.
They have made a profit of D17,000!
They remember the Kabafita Fund who gave them the machines and invited me to go and see how successful they have been since have had the sewing machines.
During the rains, they will buy bags of rice for the community or each family. It is a very small village and they live happily together especially now they will have food to feed themselves during the hard time.
Once more again I say thank you so much for your support to the Gambian women, children and of course men.
Wish you all the best
Friday, 6 March 2020. Visit
Am back home from the visit to Kasofor women kafo. There are 97 women in the kafo and last year was the first time they have ever seen a dryer. Nevertheless they have worked very very hard and dried 511 bags of cassava which helped the whole village from hunger during last August and September. The men turn out in numbers to say how happy and helpful the dryer is to them during the rainy season.
In August and September every evening they cook a big meal of cassava porage and eat it at the village centre in a group so even if someone is hungry in the morning and afternoon but he can expect a full tummy in the evening.
So they all pray for the Kabafita Fund and sing a song meaning the Kabafita Fund are here to save our lives.
I return back home not long ago and am so happy that I have to send the news to you before I have my shower.
Will write to you again on Sunday.
Barbara and Sarjo's Trek Reports and experiences.