By Alan Dick, Trust Director - see previous post for first extracts
Thursday 9th December
Off to Jappineh (central Gambia) for my first visit to see the nursery school and clinic. Kira did warn us about the condition of the road – half the distance was tarmac, but the remainder was Africa in the raw viz. dirt tracks with many potholes and diversions! I had the ‘luxury’ of sitting in the front whilst Kira did her impersonation of rallying at its best! We stayed in the Moses hostel, Soma, which just happened to be hosting the Gambian equivalent of a rock festival that evening – an interesting experience, but not much sleep.
Friday 10th December
What another delight and what a welcome at the Jappineh nursery school!
Their appreciation of what we have done and indeed their effection was so apparent, and so very humbling. However, we badly need a 3rd. classroom – Kira has plans (as always!) and this could be our next project.
In the afternoon, we visited the clinic. Although I’ve seen many pictures of this facility, I had to experience it to believe it – I was blown away.
In the middle of nowhere, here we have an operation, which quite simply cares for people and saves lives, where nothing existed before. Ansoumana, the doctor, is a revelation, working 24/7, 365 days a year looking after the people of his village and surrouding ones as well (boy does he deserve a break!) The day culminated in a meeting with all the village elders, chiefs and the like (there must have been circa 150 people in attendance). Speechifying was the order of the day and fortunately Ansoumana was on hand to translate the Mandinka language for us. What came out above all else was their very genuine gratitude and overriding desire to work together to ensure the longevity of this project. However, the ‘piece de resistance’ was at the end when Steve and I were made honorary citizens of the village of Jappineh! They have very little, yet had made the effort to wrap and present Gambian shirts to both Steve and myself to mark the occasion – that moment will last a lifetime!
And finally…….to conclude the day, a special display of Gambian dancing from the ladies of Jappineh village – truly amazing!
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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.