A big handful of updates about our work for and in Gambia from 2005 to 2011
Like every year our association presented itself at the “Geese Market Days” in Bützow. The result: ten new godparents were found.
Thanks to the sponsors the children in Labakoreh can attend school for free this year, too.
Also 2005 three members and one godmother went and saw the village people.
We gave a new coat of paint to the classrooms, paid the wages to the teachers and organised a trip to the sea for the children who were looking forward to this trip for long.
At the beach we got to know a little girl, who Miriama, had difficulties to follow her mates.
Back in Germany we got in touch with doctors. The doctor Simone Krug tried to help us. With the help of the teacher in Labakoreh and, of course, with the permission of the girl’s father we arranged a medical examination. Doctor Krug’s assumption was confirmed: “the English disease” or Rachitis. Miriama needs medicines for many years. Doctor Krug provided her with vitamin C and Calcium for one year. We organized the transport of that to Labakoreh. The treatment could be started.
Also 2006 the children and their parents in the village Labakoreh were looking forward to our visit. The three committee members and the two sponsors, who used their annual holidays for this stay and paid for it out of their own pocket, knew that a lot of work was to do.
Monika shows donations to the children. 50 Euros given by the pupils of an elementary school in Bützow to buy school uniforms.
The children were very happy that a second swing was build and the first one repaired with help of a generator and equipment to weld which was brought to the village. The well was made four metres deeper and a new filter was put in. In Gambia the level of the water table sank in the last years so that the filter continually got covered with sand.
Together with Miriama we went to her doctor and gave the medicine which she needed for the following year. The medicine was provided by Mrs.Krug and the doctor decided about the correct dose. Our teacher is responsible that she gets the medicine every day.
They can’t have medical care in the village because there a suitable building is missing. So the parish council asked for our help. After discussing the problem we decided to renovate a building which could be used. The house was in a bad condition because termites had destroyed the roof and there weren’t any doors or windows and it wasn’t rendered.
Our new task was to ask for donations in Germany.
Update: Now it’s the year 2007
It’s a special year for me as the initiator of the association for development aid in Gambia.
In May, ten years ago, I got to know this country for the first time. And now our little group can look back on successful, effective results. 9 of the 11 members were in the village and got to know the people there and there situation. Many sponsors saw the projects for themselves in Labakoreh and supported our work on the spot.
From the 29th of May to the 12th of June we visited “our” village together with three sponsors. Of course with a lot of luggage.
Sally, the doctor in Sukuta, is very happy about the medicine and the first-aid kit which we got from the chemist’s in Güstrow and Bützow. We have known Sally for many years because she is the doctor in charge for the village Labakoreh.
Thanks to our sponsors 90 children can continue to attend our nursery school for free. The teachers got their wages. For 20 children school uniform could be made.
The walls which protected our school garden had to be made 3 bricks higher because the goats ate all the bananas and damaged the mango and lemon trees. We hope that the trees will grow again and the children can harvest vegetable.
Miriama’s state of health has improved very much. The doctor in Banjul assured us that Miriama will be healthy in some years when she gets her medicine regularly. And we, the association, doctor Krug andy the teacher who gives the medicine to Miriama every day, we will do our very best to realize it.
The children and adults in the village Labakoreh/Gambia say thank you to the Rotary Club in Güstrow for the generous support. Because of that it is now possible to build up a medical station and this way to offer medical care on the spot. Nearly a ruin was completely renovated, new doors and windows were put in, the walls were painted and the roof was replaced.
Now every 2 weeks there are surgery hours. A doctor will come and vaccinate the children, treat people who suffer from Malaria or other diseases and will help wounded people. Unfortunately we aren’t able to organise a daily medical care.
Nevertheless the people are happy. We are very happy.
Update: In Labakoreh 2008
In 2008 our chairwoman and eight friends of our society started a trip to the smallest African country again. For the Krug family, who had been sponsored Mariama, the girl who suffers from rachitis for 4 years, it was the first stay in Africa. The members and friends of our society wanted to do a lot during their short stay from 22nd of April to May 1st 2008. Early at their first day they went to “our” village to get an overall picture of the current situation and to plan the next steps to do.
We were very happy about our health centre, the rooms were tiled and every Monday the inhabitants of Labakoreh and its surrounding can get there medical help. One village man pays attention to cleanliness and security of the building. The next days we organised a table, chairs and baby beds. The money for these things was donated by the recovery clinic Lohmen/ Germany and some private donators.
Except that the expansion of the centre began. The rooms for two toilets and a shower room, where you can go to straight from the patients room were prepared. Cement, stones and corrugated iron were organised by the society members. We made good progress day for day.
The medicines and first-aid kit, which was donated by pharmacies in Güstrow and Bützow were given to nurses and Sally, the doctor who feels responsible for the health centre.
It was a pleasure for us to listen to the children while learning English in our nursery school. They were very exited but also curios when they noticed us.
The Rotary Club Stavenhagen/Germany enabled us to pay the repair of the well on the area of the nursery school. And the door frames of the toilets could be replaced. They were damaged by termites very hard during the last seven years.
With the help of many hard working village people the school walls were painted in one morning, very carefully not to destroy the paintings created by the children. Both teachers of the surgery school got their wages.
It was always discussed with the mayor of Labakoreh, the school teachers, the health centre nurses how the money our society members collected in Germany should be used in the most sensible way.
A special event was it for the Krug family when they paid Mariama a visit at home. The girl’s father gave them a letter as a token of his appreciation, which moved them to tears. Together with Mariama, her Teacher from Labakoreh the Krugs visited Dr. Emanuel in Banjul, who treats the 8 years old girl.
When Mariama will be of age her legs will be cured says the doctor’s prognosis. The treatment, given the last 4 years, was succesfull and made it easier to go for the girl.
Like usual the beach party was a must. The children enjoyed the afternoon at the beach very much. They weren’t nearly to stop and went wild with enthusiasm in the water.
Update: Labakoreh 2009
This year Monika Thomsen and a friend, who has been a sponsor for long, went to Gambia. For the first time they wanted to stay there for three weeks. So there wasn’t such a high time pressure while carrying out all tasks.
Thanks to our supporters and sponsors we could pay our Gambian helpers. Our teachers, who are handicapped people as known, were happy that we could employ a caretaker. He will maintain the buildings and yard, will do necessary repairs, look after the garden etc.
Surprised we realised that even in one of the poorest countries on earth the prices have gone up. The cheapest sack of rice costs 150 Dalasi (about five Euros), diesel one Euro per litre.
Last year we didn’t have the money to give school uniforms to the new pupils. This year we were able to have school uniforms made.
A special Thank You to the children, parents and teachers of the elementary school “Am Schloß” in Bützow. On the occasion of their school opening ceremony they donated 590 Euros , which they got through different activities in 2008, to the children in Labakoreh. This donation we used to pay new tables and chairs, made by the village carpenter, for one classroom. Additionally we could paint the room newly and buy 24 chickens for our children’s party at the beach.
The children were very happy when they got the 10 Balls we had bought in Gambia. And we could give toy animals and dolls to them. This way a big wish they had was fulfilled.
Like usual there were meetings and discussions with the mayor, the teachers and the parish council of Labakoreh. So we got to know what else was needed: cups and buckets for the children; a rake,a spade and scissors for the caretaker; paint for the yard doors and the swing and locks for the class rooms again.
The health centre could be nearly competed till the day we went home. The sanitary rooms were tiled, a toilette, a shower and four doors were installed.
The mayor got a patient’s bed and promised that the village women could give birth there from now on. We hired the carpenter to build a cupboard for the medical things. In that cupboard we’ll store medical things like a blood pressure measuring instrument, a stethoscope, clinical thermometers and first-aid kit.
Referring to that we thank the chemist’s shops in Bützow and Güstrow, the firm ANZAG and a doctor in Grahl-Müritz very warmly. The small but useful health centre makes a first medical help and shorter ways for the inhabitants of the village and its surrounding possible. Without the centre medical care wouldn’t be possible at all during the rainy season because the village is far away from main streets and the ways aren’t passable.
Our annual visit at Mariama showed that she made a lot of progress to improve her health state and to overcome rickets. In September Dr. Emanuel will decide whether calcium will be given to her further on or not.
With these results our society proves how a sustainable development in an African village can be reached through the help of many sponsors and supporters over the years.
The regular, personal contact to our partners in Labakoreh is an important basis for our cooperation.
So some members and friends of our society set off to the smallest African country. For three weeks our chairwoman Monika Thomsen, the active supporter Mrs. Kasten,some members and interested people stayed in Gambia.
Immediately in the next morning after our arrival the work began: On the way to the village Labakoreh we noticed that our sign indicating our nursery school at the main street was knocked down. At once we hired some craftsmen to fix the sign with cement. When we went to back the sign was already o.k.
In Labakoreh everybody was happy seeing each other again – the children welcomed us with shining eyes. There was a lot to tell. We had substantial talks with the teachers, who are employed by the society, and together we decided the next tasks: to tile the two classrooms that cleaning will be easier. Together with the craftsmen, who wanted to tile the rooms, we bought the materials they needed. The following days we used to install blackboards which were needed urgently. The village carpenter replaced the old tables in the second classroom. Some of the 6 years old children who attend the nursery proudly read for us from their English schoolbooks. Additionally we could buy new school uniforms with help of the money we got from sponsors. Together with the children’s mothers we organised a banquet for the 90 children at the schoolyard.
One day we were the teachers for one lesson at school. We used maps and pictures from our home country to show how we live and the farmers work at their fields. Even the adults listened to our report attentively.
At the beginning of the second week we had our, meanwhile traditional, beach day at the Atlantic coast. The children went wild with enthusiasm in the water and played at the beach. This year not the the teachers but we prepared the meal; it was Benegie ( rice ,chicken and vegetable). At the end of the day we were assured that this was the most beautiful one of all the beach days we had.
There was progress in our health centre, too. The waiting room was tiled, walls were painted and the pillars of the roof in front of the house were completed. The baby clothes, knitted by an older woman from Güstrow, were given to young mothers for their newborn children. The midwife, called “Mama” in Gambia, got important things like bowls, buckets, plastic wrap and boards for the storage room. To keep the roaming cows out we had a gate made. Two seriously handicapped village people were very happy to get wheel chairs sponsored by the Recovery Clinic Lohmen. Finally the staff members got their wages as we do every year.
Another pleasing news we got from Dr. Emanuel in Banjul. Mariama’s health state (Rickets, look “Update 2005”) had improved and probably the girl would need her medicine only the next two years. Mariama’s parents thank the Krug family for their support over years from the bottom of their hearts. Financial support was also found for Mariama Kamara. Since August the 22 years old young woman has attended the only hotel management school in Gambia , which we visited, too.
To fulfil the demands at school she gets additional lessons. There are three other, older children who are able to attend a secondary or high school because sponsors give support.
The preparations for our next big project, to build up a third classroom, are already in progress. The Gambian children and we are looking forward to each donation, which helps to reach our aim.
The aim of our society is still to enable the children and youth to get better chances in life, to build up a future according to their own abilities and interests.
For meanwhile 13 years Monika Thomsen has reported on experiences on the spot, together with members of the society she has organised exhibitions and meetings at schools and town festivals in Güstrow and its surroundings. Actions like “A day for Africa” at the former grammar school “Ernst Barlach” contribute a lot to realise our aims in Gambia. This way positive contacts between people and schools are developed.
On behalf of the children from Labakoreh, The Gambia, we say thank you to our loyal sponsors and numerous helpers, who support our work and make it possible at all.
According to our plan to build a third class room we started our campaign “1000 stones for Gambia” in August 2010. You could get one stone for 1 Euro. These symbolic stones were offered at such events like the Bützower Geese Market and exhibition MELA in Mühlengeez. To finance the extension we were in need of 5 500 Euros according to estimate.
At this point we’d like to thank all the people who helped us to inform about our project and gave financial support. Among them were the North German Foundation Environment and Development, the Güstrow Blitz publishing house, the women centre “Trude” in Teterow, the cosmetics shop “Anna” in Güstrow. The Ernst Barlach Grammar School in Güstrow and school in Bernitt.
At the end of 2010 we reached our aim. The extension building could be started.
Our this year’s journey started in March, 3rd 2011. As usual the chairwoman of our society and main initiator Monika Thomsen and Mrs. Kasten took part and decided to stay in Gambia for four weeks. Four other friends joined them, they helped to realise our project on the spot and stayed there for 14 or 7 days.
Immediately when we arrived our helper there, Lamin, announced a surprise for us. We went to the village and couldn’t believe what we saw. The external walls of the new classroom were finished.
As usual we were warmly welcomed there, not only by the teachers and pupils but many village people came to welcome us in the typical African way, very warmly and lively, with singing and dancing. The teachers invited us to have dinner with them.
Before having a meal together we went to look at our health centre. There we noticed that the entrance was damaged. And the water pump of the well at the school yard was out of order. While having our meal we discussed the work to do during our stay.
The next day we first went to a DIY store, which is not comparable with one in Germany. Together with the village carpenter we bought timber for the roof and wood for tables and chairs. Then the transport of wood and timber to Labakoreh had to be organised and we went to a metalworker. There the door and window frames were ordered. They all knew that we wanted to have the work done very fast because the class room should be ready to use till the day of our departure. The craftsmen there are happy to get a work through our orders are interested in doing their jobs properly and quickly. The building up made good progress. After a week the roof timbers were finished and and they could start to render the building.
Then we went to see Mariama, who suffers from Rachitis and we found a sponsor who pays her treatment. We were happy to see that her health situation has improved again.
We also visited the college for restaurant and hotel, which Mariama Kamara attends thanks to German sponsors. There we had a talk with Mariama’s tutor and the headmaster of the college and got to know that Mariama is a good student and will pass the first part of her education there in June.
In Labakoreh two young people came to us and asked for financial help. Fatu Jalla, a 17 years old girl, finished the ninth schoolyear and would like to get a higher educational level. The same wish has Keba Nuang, who passed the 11th grade successfully and would like to pass the 12th grade.
In the second week of our stay there we had a very special, emotional experience. At our first day in the village a little girl was born and her parents decided that her second name should be Monika to honour Monika Thomsen., one example that the village people there love and appreciate Monika very much.
By the way, in many talks we had there with different people or institutions, they all appreciate our project and emphasize how thankful they are. Of course, we accepted the invitation to come to the party when the girl was baptised.
All inhabitants of the village took part in this party. Our presents were knitted baby clothing not only for the little Monika but also for four other little babies. These jackets and caps were knitted by Mrs. Naujocks, a good friend of or society. Thankfully and with big delight the babies were dressed and we took photographs of the babies and their mothers.
During the second week we had to pay The university of The Gambia a visit. Together with Zena, Jamara and Mustapha, the new teacher who we need for our new class room, we met authorities there and discussed possible basic and further training for our teachers. Some days before our departure our traditional beach party took place, where all our pupils and many village people took part. Then the final stage of our new building started. Everybody did his/her best , not only the new but also the old window frames were painted with bright green paint, new chairs and tables were put in the new room. And Mr. Koschak succeeded in repairing the pump.
Our new signs to inform where our nursery school is situated could be erected at a main street and a sign was put at the school building. The lettering of the signs we prepared in Germany.
And then everything was done: the opening party could start. Everybody, Germans and Africans were full of pride and delight that we reached our aim together and could help to offer better chances for the future to young Gambian people.
To be continued in 2012