Jonny is our wittiest volunteer and we love his humour. He brings smiles on everyone’s faces at any point. He tells us a touching story of his meeting with Gibbie in The Gambia.
Vision Beyond Struggle
“Today was a great day, truly great. I spent the morning with Musa Sey. Musa works with children with a range of needs across 30 schools in The Gambia. After chatting with him for months via WhatsApp, I finally met Musa yesterday. He invited me to visit one of the children he works with, Gibbie Bah.
I woke up to the sound of a motorbike – this was a surprise! Musa told me he would be here first thing in the morning. Up to this point, being told someone would do something at a set time was seldom linked to the actual time it happened (“Gambia Time” is the affectionate term for this tendency towards delay). So I donned my crash helmet and hopped on, the taste of toothpaste offering a slither of freshness in this relentless sun.
Thankful for the breeze – and clinging on for dear life- we took the 20 minute drive to Kaur Senior Secondary School. I was greeted by some healthy looking goats and a donkey who looked far too warm for comfort. Our entrance was complete by off-roading through the school gates.
Musa (right) introduced me to Muhammeh Lamin Darboe the Vice Principal (left) of the school who was very welcoming. I was in the presence of two very caring and supportive men. Not for the first time in The Gambia, I felt honoured, genuinely honoured. This feeling grew when I met Gibbie. This strapping young gentleman of 14 years has a smile and manner that instantly made me feel warm and relaxed. We sat and chatted for over an hour, our hands clutching one another throughout.
Gibbie has a range of interests and is achieving very well in all his subjects. He hopes to study business as he continues his education. In my life, I don’t believe I have met anyone with more determination than Gibbie. He leaves his house at 6 am, often skipping a morning meal to ensure he is in school before 8 am. Often he walks the 3km roadside trek with some of his classmates, though he told me that more recently he has been travelling independently. I told him I’m proud of him and that pride spilled out from my eyes and ran down my smile.
Gibbie is blind. He has been blind his entire life. At no point did anything he said or do suggest this was a barrier for him to learning. He told me of all the cracks by the roadside that he knows by heart from his lengthy walk to and from school.
Gibbie hopes to one day visit many countries as he wants to meet people and, seemingly of most importance, he wants “people to meet me!” (I can highly recommend meeting him!). Gibbie told me that I’m his best friend because I was his first ever visitor. My eyes leaked again.
After showing me around the school, punctuated by me embarrassing myself in my attempts to speak Wolof to his classmates, Gibbie bode me farewell to begin his maths lesson on indices (rather him than me).
Saddling back up on the bike, Musa took me to meet his family at their home. Musa’s wife, Hawa, and his children share the same tranquil, peace in there eyes as Musa. Holding his youngest daughter, Tako, in my arms, I never wanted to leave. It felt like home.
The remainder of the drive back to our compound, I couldn’t fathom the idea that we exist in a world that has so much inequality and yet so much love.
Today was a great day.”
There are people truly inspiring out there that leave all things material behind the true determination of succeeding. My eyes watered even by reading this and I wonder what is my excuse today from progressing?