Charity Visit to The Gambia - February 2016

We flew out from London Gatwick early on Thursday 18th February, heading out to Banjul International Airport with 120kg of charity luggage, containing clothes, shoes, medicines, toothpaste and brushes, knitted blankets, hats and toys, school stationery and maths aids.

This year's trip was aimed at spreading support to other families outside Jabang, helping a nursery school in Lamin Touba and to organise and fund an operation for 3-year-old Mohammed, who when we first met him in October, was suffering with a painful umbilical hernia.

Of course visiting our friends in Jabang was a priority and we were able to donate lots of beautiful knitted blankets, teddies and hats all thanks to the hardworking ladies of St Margaret's Church. Our sincere gratitude goes to Jean, Mary, Judith and Margaret and all the other loyal knitters for their continued support. These blankets and teddies have been stored safely away and will be used once the village birthing centre is completed.

Toothbrushes and toothpaste were also left to top-up supplies for the children's 'wash bags' and it was wonderful to see how well the hygiene programme is running at the school, thanks to the dedicated staff.

We also donated a wonderful play parachute and balls which everyone loved, and we spent the morning showing the teachers and children how to use it and all the amazing games they could play with it. The parachute's vibrant colours in the Gambian sunshine looked incredible and curious villagers quickly appeared to discover the reason for the children's squeals of joy coming from the school compound, and they too were fascinated.

Our visit to Lamin Touba nursery school reminded us of how very little most Gambian schools have. With 169 children on roll, squashed into three classrooms with extremely limited resources, it was inspiring to see how much the two teachers and headmaster were achieving with the children. We were so pleased to be able to donate reams of paper, crayons, scissors, exercise books, rulers, pens, pencils and maths aids. We also supplied them with Calpol and Paracetamol and made a cash donation to help towards wages for the staff. Many thanks to everyone who has supported our bingo nights at the Three Horseshoes in Knockholt village - without those funds, bringing some help to the children and staff at Lamin Touba would not have been possible.

One of the teachers at COGS nursery school in Jabang invited us to his compound to share a family meal on the Sunday. David lives in the village of Wellingbara and we were very pleased to take a large holdall full of clothes, shoes and medicines, which David was then able to distribute to his neighbours. Our thanks go to everyone who provided us with their second-hand clothes, shoes and donated medicines - every single item is gratefully received.

The on-going plan to get little Mohammed his operation finally became a reality and having been admitted to the Medicare Clinic on Sunday 28th February, the surgery took place the following morning. Again, this was made possible by the bingo funds raised, so thank you to all our supporters. A special thank you to Patricia Dunmall, who not only coordinated this, but helped both Mohammed and his very anxious mother through the ordeal with a great deal of care and kindness.

Finally, with funds left over, we were able to donate five bags of rice to our school in Jabang and a bag of rice to little Mohammed's family too. A job well done.

The trip as always, was full of highs and lows and was an emotional journey. The final night was spent with the staff and friends of the school; we treated them to food, drinks and had a wonderful night of dancing in Sengambia, to thank them for everything they are doing. They really have become great friends of ours and it's always hard to say goodbye.

We would very much like to revisit Lamin Touba nursery school upon our return to Gambia and help them further, and for this we will continue our fundraising soon. Anyone fancy a game of Bingo?

Tina Bennett

Webpage icon Rural Dean's Letter - December 2016
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Webpage icon Rector's Letter - February 2016
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