A report by Josh Dale-Harris, Trustee of the African Oyster Trust
An educational story ☺
“Two men were walking through the bush when they came across a huge hungry lion. There was a small tree at hand and one of the men climbed up it, however there was only room for one. The other man laid down on the ground and remained perfectly still. The lion came up and sniffed around the man lying on the ground and after while went on its way.
"The two men resumed their journey and the man who had taken refuge in the tree asked his companion why the lion had not eaten him?"
Let’s stop now and I will tell you the rest another time... but maybe you are a little dismayed that I have paused in the telling of this tale? Perhaps your interest is heightened a bit?
OK, so I’ll continue.
“The man replied that, long ago, he had been told that if you played dead then a lion would not eat you and that is why he survived.”
Kemo Bah recounted this story. He is an inspirational educationalist and managing director of the trust's Gambian Management Team (who implements all AOT’s projects), and he told Kira Dalton, Karen Wardell and me this story as we had supper at the Moses Motel (more on that later!).
The point Kemo was making is that stories like these subtly educate children in the benefits of learning and then applying what you learn.
I saw 3 of the 4 nursery schools AOT assists in Talinding (Hilary Emery), Kankujang Keitaya (Stepping Stones) and Jappineh and I was really impressed by what the charity has achieved. These are excellent schools.
Moses Motel, Soma
Our one-night stay up-country reminded me of my back-packing days! Soma is close to Jappineh where AOT assist a health clinic and nursery school.
After a long and dusty day, I entered my room and drew the curtain - it and its rail came crashing to the floor! Then the toilet flush handle wasn’t connected to anything so I had to lift the cistern cover and feel around in the murk for the wire to get the flush to work! Then the bathroom mat appeared to have been greased on its underside so it shot away from under you when stepped on. The bed had an under-sheet though no top sheet, problem solved by wrapping it over me. The ‘pillow’ felt as if it had been stuffed with marbles. Then the ‘concert’ started up next door – possibly the most discordant catatonic noise ever purporting to be music!
All trivial stuff really compared to the mosquitoes which found their way in, in spite of the netting around the windows. Double application of my repellent (I’m not sure who its supposed to repel, me or the mozzies). Did you know that The Gambia lends its name to the Anopheles gambiae - one of the “most important vectors of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa!”
Malaria is a curse and a big killer. AOT’s 3 clinics in Jappineh, Wellingara and Bakary Sambouya do inspirational work in the testing and treatment of malaria. All life’s dramas are played out – we met a little boy just one hour old on one occasion. I visited all the clinics and was introduced to their wonderful staff. It’s amazing the number of patients they treat and the life-saving work they do.
On 5 Feb, I joined the Sir Howard Dalton Clinic’s (Jappineh) management meeting and witnessed the thoroughness of the accounting and administration as well as hearing about the local politics. I think I was able to give the team some helpful perspective when I explained that the difficulties and fractured relationships that exist in my village in rural Hampshire, sounded remarkably similar to their troubles!
It may seem from my somewhat embellished account of our stay in the Moses Motel, that I had some reservations about the trip, not so! It was inspirational to see both the clinics and schools in action - they are making a big difference. Also, Lady Kira organised everything to perfection and, much to my amazement, we left and arrived on time everywhere we went in the 12 days or so we were ‘on the road’ touring schools and clinics. Her drive and energy coupled with the brilliant work from the Gambian Management Team is producing wonderful outcomes for the AOT donors and supporters.
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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.