In 2011, Mel Bixley's extraordinarily generous donation made possible the acquisition of an ambulance for the Sir Howard Dalton Clinic in Jappineh. You can read the full story here, and see reports throughout the news diary of the lives being saved every day as a result.
Last month, Mel and his wife Dee went to The Gambia and visited many of the African Oyster Trust's projects - including, of course the Sir Howard Dalton Clinic.
These blog posts over the next few days are based on extracts of Dee's diary. You can read part II here.
4th February 2014
Three years ago my husband Mel funded an ambulance for the African Oyster Trust’s health centre in Jappineh. Even Gambia’s President Jammeh became involved in the quest for an ambulance and it has been heart warming to read about how it is saving lives. Now we have come to Gambia to see it for ourselves.
During our time here, Kira Dalton is going to show us some of the charity’s many projects, and today she and Fanding (her second in command) are taking us to see a nursery and adjoining school in Serrekunda, near Banjul.
The Stepping Stones Nursery, formally opened in March 2013, has three classrooms and was built on land donated by Kunkujang Keitayah Lower Basic School, next door.
We meet many enthusiastic teachers and children, and witness the Jolly Phonics teaching method in action. The secret of its success seems to lie in the fun of it, the way it captures the imagination of young minds.
But fun or not, one thing is already abundantly clear: Gambian children want to learn.
At Kunkujang Keitayah, we meet the Headmaster, Edrissa Bojang. He is a very impressive man, Kira tells us later, whose roles include Chairmanship of the Gambia Teachers Union Cooperative Credit Union (GTUCCU).
In his office, I spot a photo of he and his wife and remark upon how pretty she is. He pretends to be annoyed, “What about me? Am I not handsome?!”
A chart on his wall shows that the school has almost 2,000 pupils.
The News Diary is a regular account of all that is happening at The African Oyster Trust. Please pop back for regular updates, follow us on Twitter or sign up for our RSS feed to have the latest news sent straight to your computer!
The news diary is written by a number of people close to the work of the African Oyster Trust, including founder James Holden, his co-directors, trustees and volunteers.