On March 31st two members and three friends of our society started their annual trip to The Gambia to inform about the progress of our projects there. The main focus was on the quality development of our Nursery School, of course. Right at the morning of April 1rst we went to Labakoreh together with Lamin, our wonderful helper on the spot. As usual the welcome there was very warm and moving. But immediately we were confronted with some unexpected tasks to do, as example: the wall round the school yard had to be made three stones higher.
To improve the quality of the school meals we laid out new patches together with the children.
Now a shed for the garden equipment was missing. When Monika went home on April 30th this task was solved, too.
Unfortunately, the pump which pumps the water into a tank was out of order. So we had to buy a new one.
We were successful but the problem there is that you don’t get any guaranty for the goods you buy. Now the pump works and we hope for a long time. The water pipeline is very important for the provision of the hygienic conditions at our school. Particular as we – thanks to our sponsors – brought toothbrushes and toothpaste for all children with us and the teachers will pay attention that the children clean their teeth at school daily. We were surprised when the children sang a “tooth-clean” song for us. That was prepared by the teachers to show us how thankful they are for this initiative.
We are really happy that we succeeded in employing a young elementary teacher. She is in her last study year and will do the practical part of her programme in our school. That means that we now have two qualified teachers – our Mustapha finished his studies, which we financed, in April – at our school and this way our children’s education can be improved on a higher level.
For our society it means that we have to have 130 Euros ready to pay the teachers‘ and Javara’s salaries monthly. Javara, who has been working at our school since the beginning but doesn’t have an accepted educational certificate, will work with the youngest children. Our Sena, who did this job before, is happy that she now is responsible for the school kitchen. In the last week of her stay in The Gambia Monika and all members of the staff there had a meeting to work out a paper with rules and standards which are binding for everybody at our school.
During our stay we went to those older children and young people who get a higher education or a vocational training to be informed about their living situation and the progress they make and, of course, we delivered presents from their German godparents to them. We were very pleased to learn that their teachers are satisfied with the results they got.
First-aid kit and medicine, which we got from doctors and pharmacies in the Güstrow/Bützow district free of charge, was taken to our medical centre and we went with some children to an eye specialist clinic for a necessary treatment. There we handed over the sponsored glasses from Germany.
Doctor Emanuel was very happy, too, when he received the medicine and emergency supplies we brought from Germany. Ramatolei, the girl who suffers from rickets, is treated by him with medicine which is sponsored by a doctor from Bützow.
How important help for medical care is we experienced when we visited our old friend Karl there. His little son was holding his arm and we saw how painfully he pulled his face. Karl couldn’t go to the doctors‘ with him because he didn’t have the money. We gave him the necessary money and now the boy, whose arm was broken and became inflamed, was operated. We were very happy when we met him – beaming with pleasure – after two weeks.
Unfortunately the sun wasn’t shining the day we had our traditional beach party with all school children. But nevertheless as usual we all had a lot of fun playing, swimming and having lunch together.
But the absolute highlight this year was the village football match we organised. It was only possible thanks to the Bützow shop owner “Hella Sport”, who sponsored two goal nets, and the sports club Güstrow SV 09, who gave us about 40 footballs used but in very good shape. On the spot we had two goals, out of galvanized metal, made.
All village people cheered when the mayor thanked our society in a euphoric speech and announced that in future every year there will be a football tournament called “Monika Thomsen Tournament”. Of course, we presented the winner of the football match with a cup.
All in all like every year we can say: there are many problems to solve but thanks to our sponsors and many helpers we can help and small steps are important, too. And as usual we come back home full of impressive experiences, happy and with new ideas for our future work.