This update is later than usual because we delayed our visit on account of the difficult political situation. After the initial euphoria following the November elections, and the defeat of President Jammeh, things got very tense as the handover time approached and he refused to leave office. It seems calmer and more stable now he has left the country, but it will not be an easy time for the new president. He has to bring together all the opposition parties and undo 22 years of corruption and malpractice. Expectations are very high, and there may yet be unrest if change doesn't happen fast enough.
It was lovely to be back, and great to have Jude Bishop with me. She is one of our trustees, and it was her first visit to the village.
She hit the ground running and put her many years of experience in teaching to good use in the school. She worked with both the head teacher Adama and with the teaching assistants, to encourage them to use more small group work and play.
She also never missed a single baby cuddling opportunity!
Just before we left, we put out an appeal for nurses uniforms. Festival Medical Services members did us proud. We had enough donated to be able to distribute them to other clinics and to the Regional Health Department, all of whom were delighted, so very many thanks FMS.
The clinic was looking great, and we were lucky enough to be there for the monthly anti natal clinic, when a team from the Health Department use our premises to do anti natal care, vaccinations and HIV testing. All the women dress beautifully for the occasion and its a really colourful event.
You may remember that we have been helping a five year old girl, Satang, with severe burns to her hands. She has just spent six months in Ethiopia receiving treatment from Dr Einar Ericsen, and arrived back a short while before we got there. Einar has achieved the most incredible results, and Satang now has full use of her right hand, and with continuing physiotherapy the left one will be nearly as good. It is truly remarkable what he has achieved, she and her family are so grateful to him.
Not only were we late in going to Gambia, the new community bus which we loaded in November with masses of stuff for the school and clinic, was also delayed by the political crisis.
The good news is that it has just arrived in Gambia, and is now in the village being unloaded, much to everyone's delight.
We are continuing to move the project towards more sustainability. Since the main road was surfaced, there is a very noticeable change in the village; new homes, more cars, solar panels, taxis and buses. It is clear that the need for a community bus has diminished considerably, so we have decided that this will be the last one we are involved with. The income generated by the new bus will help to fund the clinic, to aid its transition to becoming self sufficient.
Thank you as ever, to each and everyone who contributes to our work. Your donation goes directly to the project, and is greatly appreciated by the village.