Report by Trust supporters Nick and Lynn Torry
We were delighted to see the report in the Gambia Daily Observer about Kira handing over thousands of dalasis’ worth of medical supplies to the Community Health Centre in Jappineh.
It brought back happy memories of our visit to the Centre in January with Kira and James when they laid the foundation stones for the compound walls of the Centre. Hundreds of newly made bricks were ready for the ceremony at which the Imam of Jappineh and James made moving speeches on this auspicious occasion.
The previous day we had made a memorable nine hour journey by boat from Bintang Bolong to Soma with Kira and James, and that morning we had travelled by taxi to Jappineh, and met the elders of the village, who had received books and mathematical equipment for the school provided by the African Oyster Trust. We had seen the excitement of the children in the Baduma Nursery School when Fanding had presented them each with a cuddly toy provided by the Trust. Later in the afternoon we were privileged to attend a meeting of the Jappineh Youth Development Committee, when they outlined their ambitious vision for the Community Health Centre.
During our fortnight’s visit to The Gambia we also visited the two other projects supported by the African Oyster Trust: the Kuntah Kinteh Nursery School in Serekunda and Mariama’s Nursery School in Gunjur.
We really enjoyed visiting the Kuntah Kinteh Nursery School. It was such a happy place. We watched the tasty, nutritious meal of fish and rice being prepared on the premises and helped serve the meal to the eager children in their classrooms – after they had first washed their hands carefully. In the clean, shady, well-equipped classrooms the children worked purposefully and quietly and were keen to share their work with us. In the playground they shared the play equipment well and were learning gradually to take turns in having a go on the slide. It was noticeable how much respect and affection Kira inspired both in the children and in the teaching and ancillary staff. The whole school is a credit to Kira and Fanding for founding it and to the Oyster Trust for funding it so well. Let’s hope the extra classroom will be ready soon.
James had prepared himself well for the visit to Gunjur School. We had walked into the village from the Footsteps Ecolodge with him the day before, when he chose some pieces of material from the local shops, which a local tailor made into suits in the local style overnight.
He then looked appropriately smart for the ceremony which took place when Kira cut the tape across the door leading into the school’s clinic, which she had recently stocked with medical supplies for the trained medical staff to use for any of the 2000 children in the school who needed them. We enjoyed visiting Mariama’s Nursery School and also some of the classrooms in the main school, particularly the one where Mariama, now ten years old, was being taught.
We had never been to The Gambia before and it turned out to be a wonderfully interesting, enjoyable visit. Everyone we met was cheerful and helpful and always made us feel welcome. For James’ sake we did manage a bit of bird-watching too, exploring our local ‘patch’ at Gunjur thoroughly and even braving the shallow waters of the Allelein River in a pirang.
Thank you James and Kira for welcoming us to your magnificent projects and long may the children who benefit from your efforts continue to prosper.
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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.