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The diary of a volunteer in The Gambia: Part 1

Our volunteers are currently in The Gambia, spending two weeks with the kids of Ballanghar. When we go there, we focus our work and attention on the school where we decorate and run different courses for the kids, on the beautiful garden we built at the back of the school and on medical checks that our nurses do. We are on look out for symptoms of respiratory diseases, malaria and many more.

Our volunteer, Anisha is keeping a diary of their adventures. We want to share with you what we are up to there and also show what your kind donations go towards. Below are the first few days:

29th of October:

“Today we awoke to the sound of of cockerels and bleating goats. After saying goodbye to our neighbours (& WiFi) we began our 6 hour journey to Ballanghar. At the border, we were officially welcomed to The Gambia as VIP (can you believe it?!) and picked up a catchy song too “education is the key for me”. It’s safe to say that line was sung many times on our road trip.

But nothing compares to the welcome we received at Ballanghar. As we drove up the kids surrounded us with handshakes, hugs and a chorus of “Baba Marco!”. The impact that Marcos (our sister charity founder) charity has had on the children is shown in their infectious love for him.

We were shown our “home” for the next 9 days, introduced to the village chief and settled in with music, dancing and delicious food.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for tomorrow (hopefully not too many cockroaches).

30th of October:

My first night in Ballanghar and no mosquito bites. I call that a success! Today was more about settling in and housekeeping. We started with the garden. Planted last year by our nutrition team, the garden is full of chillies, cassava, ocra, aubergine and karrkadé – which makes the most delicious Bissap juice.

Next was the school. There are over 500 kids here but only 10 classrooms and even less teachers. The children are so full of life. Playful and curious, so when we were cleaning out the rooms to be redecorated they came out to play. Calling out “TOUBAB!” and me responding “NUKONNOOL!” Seems to be a favourite. Much better than my attempt at magic.

To end the evening, I helped Isatou cook dinner for us all. At 20 years old she’s finished school,  raised two mischievous little boys and glows of pride at the mention of them.

We made cassava and fried fish and Isatou taught me so well I think I’ve been volunteered to cook for the village tomorrow (!) could be very interesting.

After a long day of budget talks, haggling for classroom furniture and meeting the villagers the food was warmly welcomed and tasted just like my grandma makes.”

Keep an eye on this space as we will be sharing more of what our volunteers are up to!

peopleforchangeThe diary of a volunteer in The Gambia: Part 1