At 30th April 2012 six sponsors, each of them with 40 kg baggage (medicine, first-aid kit, shoes, clothes, toys etc. and one wheel chair), started their journey to The Gambia, where they arrived at 10 p.m. after a physically demanding trip.
The work progressed well and on 13th April, together with the children, their parents local representatives and guests, the opening ceremony took place. Of course, as well as many speeches the natural dish “Ebbe” (fish and vegetable) was there.
From September this year our children can have a warm meal in this canteen thanks to donations from the Güstrow-Bützow-region and first and foremost thanks to the financial promotion of the NUE Dornum. To finance these meals, probably 1000 Euro per school year, will be a demanding task for us.
The second task of our stay was the health centre. Its roof was damaged badly by termites and had to be renovated completely. The donations we got from the roofer Pahl from Tarnow and from the Reha-clinic Lohmen we used to buy wood (Mahagony, i.e. resistant to termites) for 1500 Euros. Then we had to pay nails, roof plates, cement and sand for the stones and to pay the craftsmen. It was a great pleasure for me and the village people that the medical centre was ready to use the day I left.
Now every Monday the doctor will come to treat the patients from Labakoreh and the villages nearby. The male nurse Mussah will be there daily to give out the medications we brought from Germany and to give first aid to the people in need.
In our second week there we got a bad news. The caretaker of our health centre, Osman, died. He saw that everything was clean and proper in accordance with our instructions and we were in good contact. Together with Lamin I took part in the Muslim mourning ceremony, which was quite different from ours, and gave some small presents. Because Osman didn’t have a family the village community was thankful for our support. The reason for Osman’s death we didn’t get to know. Obviously it’s not important for the people there.
We met many people who suffered from fever, cough, joint ache and cold. No wonder! Hot temperatures at day and cold ones at night, bad living conditions! Many people sleep on the bare clay ground, the huts aren’t rendered, the roofs are leaky.
Especially one concrete case shocked us very much. We visited Fatu Jallow’s parents.
Fatu is a 17 years old girl who attend the 11 class and whose school fees are paid by Frau Dobslaff from Güstrow. Fatu’s parents live together with their seven children (what is normal there) in a hut, whose roof had uncountable holes, no beds or mattresses, hardly nothing to eat and the little child ill. It was obvious that they wouldn’t come through the coming rain season under these circumstances. The clay hut would collapse.
Spontaneously one member of our group (Malve Lucke) decided to buy roof plates for this family. At our society’s expanse we had the walls plastered and rendered, with the wood which we didn’t need any more for the health centre and some we bought in addition the roof timbers were built.. Lamin, our employee on the spot, and two other members of our group bought bamboo beds and mattresses for the children. The family was endlessly grateful to us.
And we realized again how necessary our help, the concrete help on the spot, was.
For the children there the beach party is the highlight of our annual visit. One day they spent playing, swimming and having a picnic at the beach. It was a pleasure to see how fast and enthusiastically the children joined “our” Laurentia and Boogie-Woogie dances.
During our stay we had to cope with many other tasks. Wages were to pay, organizational questions, for example referring to serving the meals for the children, had to be discussed.
We visited schools to get information about the learning results of our older godchildren. We were very pleased about the good results Soleman reached. He is the godchild of the Koschack family from Bützow and has got the possibility to get an engineer qualification. Then his training place can help him to find a job in the army, the police or telephone company. So he is a good example of our aim: help for self-help, i.e. help whose effect is directed at sustainability.
Also our young teacher, whose qualification we pay and who has been working at our school for a year now, does a good job. He teaches in a very dedicated way, full of new ideas and with good social competence. He wants to have more learning material for the children. At his suggestion we bought a rubbish bin for the school area, probably the only one in the village. Refuse disposal is a problem for The Gambia. We are happy that the young generation wants to initiate changes.
Since spring we have provided another child, who suffers from rickets, with medicine from Germany. The 4 years old Amatoulei, whose mother died while giving birth to her and who now lives with relatives, has worse deformities than our Mariama, whose treatment was successfully finished after seven years. We hope we can help this girl, too.
We could make another handicapped boy (12 years old, from the village Bijolo) happy when we the wheelchair to him which was donated by the Reha-clinic Lohmen.
A time, full of experiences but successful, too, ended at 29th April 2012. Some members of our group were really shocked about the poverty and bad living conditions of the village people. And that’s the reason for us to go offering help for self-help. We hope for example that the two sewing machines we brought from Germany will help to create two new jobs.
But to realise our plans we rely on donations and therefore also on behalf of the village people we say thank you so much to all of our supporters and sponsors.