I first met Lady Kira when I was Head Teacher (2005-2013) at Faraba Banta Basic Cycle School. Her visit was during the 2011/12 academic year. I knew nothing about the African Oyster Trust then.
As an expert in nursery education, Kira escorted a Dutch couple who wanted to build a nursery school and needed a plot of land. We agreed to provide them with a portion of land belonging to our School.
Kira monitored the construction phase of the Big Tree Nursery, frequently visiting the site. During these visits, I got to know her and learned about the many activities of the Trust. I became further involved in 2014 when I returned from studying for my Masters’ Degree in Ghana. Kira asked me to become a member of her Gambian Management Team, based on my educational background and other relevant experience. My role is Education Director and Secretary of AOT-Gambian Management Team.
My full-time work now is at the Gambia Technical Training Institute, a tertiary institute with student enrolment of over two thousand. I am the Deputy Registrar/Human Resource Manager, responsible for all recruitment and selection procedures, plus the induction programmes of newly appointed personnel and liaison with Senior Management colleagues. I work Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.
In 2017, I was identified by the Institute to travel to China. However, the trip did not materialise - since I was disqualified on the premise that I was above the age limit! The opportunity of overseas travel might arise again as Gambia now has bilateral relations with many countries and remains on honeymoon terms with the world at large. However, I am also hoping that the AOT UK team might invite one member from the Gambian Management Team to visit UK in the future.
Some years ago, I had the opportunity to visit England, seeing many key places. I also attended an international conference, the theme of which was, “What is special about being British?” Several reasons were advanced, including the food, the culture, the language and even the dress code!
I was fascinated by the British Educational System and visited a few schools, including Woodfield Primary School in Plymouth, where I was introduced to their child-centred learning process. I met the Mayor of Plymouth and witnessed a tribunal when parents were denied their child because they were drunkards and would molest the child at home. I found the court procedures interesting and I was happy with the verdict.
I had good social interactions with my hosts and generally found UK people to my liking. My visit changed my view of the world greatly.
I live happily with my wife, mum, children and nieces. It is good to see my ageing mother every morning before I leave for work. She loves to be surrounded with her grandchildren and they keep her company every day.
My children all go to different schools. My first son is studying for a certificate in Electrical/ Electronics, and the second just completed Grade 12, in May 2018. My next child (a daughter) is in Grade 10 and Absatou and Ismaila are in Grades 1 and 4 respectively.
I really enjoy my engagement with the African Oyster Trust and when we have lunch with Kira as a team, these are great moments. One of my goals is to see that the good work done by the Trust is sustained for posterity. I am an avid believer in the principle of sustainability. Kira and the UK team have worked extremely hard to bring the AOT to its present status. We will endeavour to make sure that those efforts are maintained, whether Kira is here with us or not.
My major frustration is lack of time, due to the demands of my full-time work. However, I will continue to show my commitment to the Trust come rain or sunshine.
Kira is totally committed to her work and she’s a role model and mentor to us all. Her excellent interpersonal skills are a force to reckon with.
The activities of the Trust have greatly improved life in Jappineh and the whole Region. The health centre team led by Ansumana has been able to contain some of the prevalent diseases in the area, such as Malaria, and because of the expertise of his team and good availability of drugs few referrals to other facilities are necessary.
A poem dedicated to the African Oyster Trust:
Many thanks to the AOT;
Long live Kira and the entire AOT-UK team;
Long live Fanding and the entire AOT-Gambian team;
And Long live all the donors, who in one way or another
have contributed their resources to the charity.
All contributions, big or small, have made a difference
to the lives of the many deprived children, adults,
and elderly in this beloved country.
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.