The term ‘experience of a lifetime’ is subject to overuse but it is apposite to my first visit to The Gambia with the WGS group of 2008.
Lasting memories of that trip include watching the sunset with Nikki Browning from the beach on our first evening at the Senegambia Hotel; rude awakenings by monkeys running over the roof; breathing in on the ferry from Banjul to Barra; bouncing along the road to Illiasa to the accompaniment of nonstop singing from the girls; the warmest of welcomes from the village inhabitants; the holding of both hands by the smiling nursery children and their rousing rendition of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, the groups of elders sitting or standing in constant conversation while the women collected water and firewood, prepared meals, looked after babies and so on; the canoe trip with ‘Captain’ Wandy Touray – bird guide extraordinaire; the basic accommodation and beauty of Tendaba Camp; the birds and bats in the hotel grounds; the Banjul market and the Senegambia craft market. Most memorable of all was the girls’ commitment to working on the projects during their stay – interacting with Gambian adults and children, planting bananas, painting walls at the Mama Tamba Nursery School and assisting with lessons and play – and their tremendous teamwork skills. They, too had the experience of a lifetime. I have had the joy of joining the WGS group in 2010 and to being in the Gambia with my husband, Ron, that year and in 2012.
Ron was involved in teacher training in Banjul in February 2016 and I went out to join him for a week at the end of his workshops. We enjoyed meeting up with Lamin, the WGS project leader and gave him various supplies (reading glasses and pens and pencils collected over the past few years) and solar lights.
The old adage that Africa gets under your skin and into your blood certainly applies to Ron and I and The Gambia. It is a pleasure to sit on the WGS Gambia Committee and I hope that all who read this will do all that they can to support the WithGambia charity to enable future generations of Withington girls to have that very special experience of their lifetimes and to make a positive difference to the lives of others.
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