Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Bognor to Istanbul Charity Drive

The Challenge

Pete Macer and Pete Salway attempt to drive a 25 year old Mercedes from Bognor to Istanbul and back to raise money for two charitable organisations, Nyodema and Help the Aged.

Preparing The Car

Big news! We now have the old girl mot’ed and taxed etc , in fact just been for a run down the road in her. Big thanks to Mr Salway for his hard work in achieving this, Now guys its up to you its time to get your wallets out !
We already have two company sponsors and if any of you with a company would like to get involved {put company info on a door etc} drop me an email and we can discuss details.
IF you would like to just sponsor us in general {which many have already} most people are just committing an amount for us to complete the trip. Contact us through the site and we can take it from there.

Update on the car…

Well after the first near disasterous test drive (when the breaks failed and Pete S  had to use the hand break to stop the car smashing into a traffic queue) all seems well with the old girl. Not long to go now boys. Kathryn

The Trial Run

Just got back from a trial run fully loaded with all the gear etc. We drove to a pub in Hampshire which allowed us to camp in their back field so we could have a little dummy run.
All went well apart from Pete Macers tent being attacked in the night by wild animals, quite strange.
(Now we know if you pitch your tent next to a badger size whole in the hedge you can expect to be thrown out of bed by a badger! LOL Kathryn

And there off….

Well, us two idiots have packed everything into our venerable steed, done the leaving bash and have just enough time for a little kip before voyaging forth to distant lands. Contrary to rumours spread by my slightly confused mother, the destination is Istanbul, not Afganistan! See you all in a couple of weeks. Wish us luck! Love Pete S.

31.07.09
18:05
Made it to campsite in Deinze, Belgium camp Groeneveld. All ok apart from sat nav says Belgium doesn’t exist! Car got a bit tired. love the Petes

01/08/09
19:00
Sitting in the evening sun, sipping a beer on a hillside – fantastic views. The camp site is in a nature reserve Ortsgruppe Annweiler am Trifels. Car OK but having to stop so often will slow us down. So what – we’re having a great time. We’ll get there, eventually.
15:38
Car still having bouts of misfiring every hundred miles or so which means we have to stop for an hour to let it cool down! Now in Sarrbrucken in Germany. Hope to make Stuttgart tonight.
11:12
In a layby just inside Luxembourg repairing car. Should be on the move soon!

02/08/09
19:52
Made Northern Italy. Done 350 miles today. Two huge thunder storms earlier in the day and another is heading towards the camp site (Vipiteno just south of Brenner)! Breaks over heated in the Alps but we’re OK and the car is OK. Quite an exciting day in all!
12:00
Can’t find Mercedes factory on sat nav so heading on to Austria so as not to loss anymore time. It’s a little cooler today which seems to suit car better. Hope to be in Innsbruck tonight ready to head over the Alps in to Italy tomorrow.

03/08/09
21:10
Greets from Field Marshall Macer. The Italian Campaign is going well. We’ve formed a beachhead at the Adriatic, awaiting further orders.
(In other words, they drove about 360 miles today and are about half way down Italy, Kathryn)
04/08/09
06.30
La Madusa camping,  Ancona.
More storms. Tents flooded. Everything wet.
09:10
Hope to make Brindisi by 6pm to catch overnight ferry to Greece (weather permitting) Still bad!
16:47
After pushing the car like crazy to make ferry we finally got there, bought the tickets and then the car overheated and we couldn’t get her going again. Thought we were going to miss ferry but just got the old girl going again in time to board. Should arrive in Greece at 2am.

05/08/09
08:40
Slept on deck last night. We are now past Grevena, with 1700 miles under our belts.
18:30
At Alexandroupoli just outside Turkish border. Camping on beach. Hope to be in Istanbul tomorrow. Done 1,985 miles so far.
20:42
Standing in the moonlight with our feet in the Aegean sea and a glass of red wine. Tents are just 20ft away (no tide!). We can see the lights of Turkey from here.
Greece is wonderful and the people are lovely. So helpful and friendly.

Istanbul
06/08/09

08:48 GMT
Just crossed border into Turkey!
13:11 GMT
20km from Istanbul and going well!

We arrived in Istanbul at 3.30 eet and have now checked ın to a hotel for a few days rest before attempting to drive back. Yippee! The car is tucked up safe in a garage at the hotel having a well deserved rest.
best regards
a very tired Pete and Pete

07/08/09
Istanbul is amazing and the people are wonderful. Hope to return one day but won’t be driving there again!

08/08/09
Heading home! After a four hour queue to cross the border back into Greece the car over heated yet again 20ft from the crossing! AFter another half an hour or so she started up again and we finally made it across. Now back at the campsite in Alexandroupoli with another bottle if wine by the sea. Bliss!

09/08/09
Made it to the port in Greece. Booked on the 11.30pm ferry.

10/08/09
Camped by Lake Trasimeno, Perugia, central Italy. Hope to make France tomorrow.

11/08/09
Camped near Genova. Should make France tomorrow!

12/08/09
Just setting up camp half way up a mountain beside a lake near Gap, France. This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. It took two hours through the Alps to get here but well worth it. In fact, the whole drive from Bognor to Istanbul to here is worth the view. Spectacular. Pete S

13/08/09
Hi All. Camped at Saint Galmier in the Loire Valley. Slowly making our way across France.

14/08/09
Car playing up a bit. Don’t think it likes French fuel! Camping in on outskirts of Chateux Roux, just south of Tours.

15/08/09
Home to tomorrow!

17/08/09
Got back around midnight last night. All in one piece can’t quite believe we have done it. Party to night. Thanks to everyone for their support and messages of encouragement, they all helped spur us on. Car all in good shape, it’s just us that are a bit battered and bruised.

For some of the photographic highlights visit Flickr

Chris Sylla – Hands on Skin

 Chris Sylla from “Hands on Skin” leads Nyodema’s weekly drumming workshops. Chris has been teaching African drum and dance and performing for a number of years mainly in Brighton, West Sussex.

Chris was born in Stoke-On-Trent and although she has always loved singing and had a brief and disastrous relationship with the violin in childhood she came to music later in life. Having worked at the WOMAD world music festival for years and seen English people playing African drums she finally went to a class with a friend and was hooked.

She’s been playing for 9 years now, initially working with a variety of teachers in England. Drumbreaks (a style developed by Peter Scott) teachers such as Liz Carter, Ruth Jennie and Chris Garland were important in her early development, as was Simon Mc Carthy and she then went on to work with teachers of a more traditional West African style such as Fern Camera, Bucarr Ndow, Ali Bangora and Henri Gao Bi.

She took her first trip out to the Gambia to work with Masta Canon with Jambass music in 2001 and then went back regularly to study, at least once a year for three weeks.

As well as learning djembe and bass from Masta, Chris learned dance informally from a variety of sources with artistes in the Gambia; Babuccar, from Roots Manding and Pearr from Roots Kuntakinte being particularly helpful, both allowed her to dance with the troupes when she was out there. She played djembe as a ‘guest’ member of African Ballet for 4 months.

Chris went on to study balafon, a long-cherished desire of Chris’ with Seikou Soma, having 4 months intensive training in 2004 and then on periodic visits since. She also learned West African dance with Zaggaire in the Gambia and a variety of others in Guinea. Chris has done some collaborative work with Hullaballo Quire using balafon and voice. In England Chris is an original member of the Djembe Divas, a women’s’ drumming group based in Brighton.

Carmen Souza Article “Loud News” magazine

Article by Kathryn Burrington, March 2008
Article by Kathryn Burrington, March 2008

Nyodema’s next music event brings acclaimed Cape Verdean artist to Bognor Regis on the south coast of England.

With one foot in Africa and the other tapping around the globe, Carmen Souza successfully brings together a wide variety of musical styles with influences from as far apart as American soul and the music of her ancestors.

Carmen, born in Lisbon into a Cape Verdean family,  grew up speaking a mixture of Creole, which her parents spoke at home, and Portuguese. Her father frequently worked away on cargo ships but whenever he was home she loved listening to him sing and play guitar.

At 14 she joined her church choir and her professional career started at just 17 years old when she joined the Lusophone Afro-Gospel choir “Shout”. Over the next couple of years she also toured with bands “Quamundo’s” and “Funky Messengers”, working with numerous musicians including Theo Pas’cal, one of Portugal’s best bass players. He introduced Carmen to jazz, fusion and other contemporary sounds.

Together they worked on compositions, striving to create a unique sound in the Creole dialect (from Cape Verde – an archipelago off the West African coast) bringing together African and Cape Verdean rhythms such as morna and funana with more contemporary influences of jazz and soul.

Her first album Ess ê nha Cabo Verde (This is my Cape Verde) released in 2005, received great reviews  and at her international live solo debut at Womad on BBC3’s “World on your Street” stage, copies of her CD quickly sold out.

In 2006 Carmen returned to the UK with a five gig tour following the release of a completely reworked Roots version of her CD, emphasising the qualities of her voice and the African rhythms.

In July of that year Carmen played the main stage at Toronto’s 18th Annual Afrofest – the biggest African music and cultural event in North America. Her CD sold more copies then any other artist at the festival.

In 2007 Carmen toured Korea, Canada and the UK. I was lucky enough to catch her at the Amberley Folk Club last March. Right from the start the audience was captivated by her soulful voice and drawn in by her likeable presence, the hypnotic melodies and subtle arrangements.  An easy rapport developed with the crowd, who, by the end of the set, would have welcomed many encores.

With the release of her new album Verdade (Truth) in February 2008 Carmen is touring the UK once more. For further information on Carmen’s gig in Bognor visit http://www.myspace.com/nyodema, email nyodema07@yahoo.co.uk or call 07974 472137.

On Saturday 15th March 2008, with Theo accompanying her on bass and percussion, Carmen is performing at The Waverley, Marine Drive, Bognor Regis. This gig, organised by the charity Nyodema alongside ActionAid’s Bollocks to Poverty On Tour, is being held to raise funds for health and educational needs of children in The Gambia, West Africa. Talented local trio Six-fifteen will start the evening off around 7.30pm. Tickets £5. Doors open 7.00pm.

Full details of Carmen’s Tour can be found at www.carmensouza–uk.blogspot.com

For photographs of Carmen at Nyodema gigs by Adam White visit Carmen Souza

Carmen Souza on YouTube

Baraka make a welcome return to Nyodema Festival 2009

“You won’t believe your feet”

With musicians from three different continents it is hardly surprising that Baraka’s musical influences reach around the globe as they skillfully blend music from West African Highlife and South African Township with Caribbean Calypso, Soca and Reggae to produce a unique and exciting mix of polyphonic rhythms, soaring melodies and funky dance grooves.

After headling at Nyodema’s Festival in 2008, they were such a hit with the audience that when Baraka asked to return the following year we couldn’t resist inviting them back to the festival in 2009. This year kora player and percussionist, Mamadou Cissoko, joined them on stage adding even greater depth and energy to their wonderful music.

Baraka at Nyodema's Festival 2009

Baraka at Nyodema's Festival 2009

Their line-up includes Ben Baddoo on vocals, percussion and balafon. Ben started drumming with his older brothers when he was six in his home village of Nsakina in Ghana.  At 17 he joined a professional drum and dance troupe and went on to form his own group, Sankofa, with whom he toured all over Ghana. In the 1980’s, after being discovered by a UK promoter, they became one of the first exponents of African drum and dance in the UK.  Ben is now a highly respected session player, having worked with artists as diverse as Vangellis, Peter Gabriel and more recently Temple of Sound. He is also well known for his drum and dance workshops, which he has held in festivals around the world as well as in UK schools and colleges.  A solo drum track that he recorded for the Womad Talking Book CD is now part of the UK Schools curriculum.
Guitarist, Simwinji Zeko, spent many years performing and recording throughout Zambia and South Africa before moving to Europe. He now lives in the UK and plays with a number of bands including Baraka.
Baraka’s drummer, Mark Bradley, was born in Belfast and his first taste of music was drumming in punk bands as a teenager. He has lived in the UK for 20 years and has played (and still does) with numerous bands covering a wide variety of musical genres.
Royston Gage on bass guitar and vocals brings the sounds of  The Caribbean to the group having played with soca and reggae bands in his homeland of the Commonwealth of Dominica before moving to the UK.  Other early musical experiences include hanging out with Led Zeppelin when they used his band’s rehearsal room on the island!
Saxophonist, Brendan Whitmore comes from Carlow, Eire. He discovered world music through reggae, having been a founder member of Bristol’s first and foremost reggae band Talisman with whom he has enjoyed numerous  TV appearances, chart success and played on the same stage as the Rolling Stones.
Senegalese Kora player, Mamadou Cissoko, spends much of his time running workshops and story telling as a solo artist. He doesn’t usually play with a band but he particularly likes Baraka’s music and ethics so when available he’s only too happy to join Baraka as a guest artist.
With such a wealth of experience to draw on it is no wonder that they are now delighting audiences the length and breadth of Britain, as well as mainland Europe and Ireland with their exciting blend of world music.

Their line-up includes Ben Baddoo on vocals, percussion and balafon. Ben started drumming with his older brothers when he was six in his home village of Nsakina in Ghana.  At 17 he joined a professional drum and dance troupe and went on to form his own group, Sankofa, with whom he toured all over Ghana. In the 1980’s, after being discovered by a UK promoter, they became one of the first exponents of African drum and dance in the UK.  Ben is now a highly respected session player, having worked with artists as diverse as Vangellis, Peter Gabriel and more recently Temple of Sound. He is also well known for his drum and dance workshops, which he has held in festivals around the world as well as in UK schools and colleges.  A solo drum track that he recorded for the Womad Talking Book CD is now part of the UK Schools curriculum.

Baraka’s drummer, Mark Bradley, was born in Belfast and his first taste of music was drumming in punk bands as a teenager. He has lived in the UK for 20 years and has played (and still does) with numerous bands covering a wide variety of musical genres.

Royston Gage on bass guitar and vocals brings the sounds of  The Caribbean to the group having played with soca and reggae bands in his homeland of the Commonwealth of Dominica before moving to the UK.  Other early musical experiences include hanging out with Led Zeppelin when they used his band’s rehearsal room on the island!

Saxophonist, Brendan Whitmore comes from Carlow, Eire. He discovered world music through reggae, having been a founder member of Bristol’s first and foremost reggae band Talisman with whom he has enjoyed numerous  TV appearances, chart success and played on the same stage as the Rolling Stones.

Daniel Isakongo, from The Congo,  was a welcome addition to the band last year adding his unique brand of funky guitar and vocals.

Mamadou

Mamadou

Senegalese Kora player, Mamadou Cissoko, spends much of his time running workshops and story telling as a solo artist. He doesn’t usually play with a band but he particularly likes Baraka’s music and ethics so when available he’s only too happy to join Baraka as a guest artist.

With such a wealth of experience to draw on it is no wonder that they are now delighting audiences the length and breadth of Britain, as well as mainland Europe and Ireland with their exciting blend of world music.

www.barakamusic.co.uk

For  more photographs visit Nyodema Flickr stream

Responsible Tourism Award – Interview

Kathy Burrington, one of The Gambia Experience’s employees and co-founder of Nyodema, has recently won AITO’s (The Association of Independent Tour Operators) prestigious Achievement in Responsible Tourism Award for 2008.
The Gambia Experience enjoys AITO’s coveted 5-Star Responsible Tourism (RT) accreditation, in recognition of the company’s long-standing commitment to Responsible Tourism.  This year AITO asked its members to nominate individuals who have achieved something outstanding through their own efforts and made a real difference to a local community or the environment.
Together with a couple of friends, she founded a charity called ‘Nyodema’ which means ‘Helping Each Other’ in Mandinka (a Gambian tribal language). To raise money, they organized a ‘World Music & Arts Festival’ that proved a great success and now looks set to become an annual event. A number of charity evening ‘gigs’ also mean that the charity continues to operate throughout the remainder of the year, as well as promoting multi-cultural awareness.

Kathy received her award in February at ATIO’s ‘Meet the Media’ event in London.

Congratulations on the award Kathy – how did you feel when they announced your name?

Surprised and very pleased for everyone involved with Nyodema!

It’s a great recognition for the dedication and hard work you’ve put into Nyodema – how did it all start and what was your inspiration?

When I joined The Gambia Experience I started sponsoring a little girl through an existing charity. A few months later I went to The Gambia for the first time and while there I visited a number of schools, including hers. All the schools have very little in the way of resources and many of the buildings were in very poor condition.

It was on my second visit to The Gambia with a friend, Shelagh Hamilton, that we put our heads together to see how we could raise some money to help.

Tell us about the schools you have been involved with – what are they like?

The school my little girl went to, Jeddah Progress Nursery School (for 4 to 7 year olds – equivalent to UK infant schools) on the far side of Brikama, appeared to be the poorest out of all the schools I had seen. The teachers, however, really impressed us with their dedication and enthusiasm. As an infant school it does not get funding from the government and has to rely on the support of the local community. Many of the parents struggle to afford the fees (let alone the cost of uniforms etc). This means that the school struggles to pay the teachers. Some schools get donations from tourists but unlike schools nearer the coast, this school gets very few visitors.

The children usually grow up speaking one of several local languages but as English is the official language of The Gambia and is used throughout the education system and in commerce, it is essential that the children get to grips with English before going on to state run schools at the age of seven. Synthetic phonics is a system of teaching English widely used throughout the UK that has proved to be very successful. Nyodema has financed phonics training for the teachers at the infant school and at the junior school next door. We also provided basic equipment to support this. The junior school is so pleased with the children’s progress from “our” infant school, that they have asked us to train the teachers from all the other infant schools in the area that feed it.

This is a project particularly close to my heart having had a lot of problems with reading and writing at primary school myself. I can remember coming top in a maths test the same week as getting zero in a spelling test! Using phonics enables children of all abilities to learn.

You’ve helped set up a number of projects to date – are there any that particularly stand out?

Distributing the mosquito nets to the children was wonderful. We watched each child receive a net so we knew that the nets had gone to the people that they were intended for. The folded up nets were bigger than some of the children and back in the classrooms children started disappearing under a sea of netting. When the children went home, a stream of nets, held above the children’s heads, flowed out of the school grounds into the streets. We’ve heard that incidences of malaria have reduced since the nets have been distributed which is fantastic.

The fundraising events you organise sound like great fun – who’s involved?

There is a strong music tradition in our home-town of Bognor Regis with everything from some excellent local bands playing pub gigs to world class classical recitals, however, there were no “world” music events.

Shelagh and I roped in another friend, Phyl Keane to help and although we’d never been involved with anything like it before, we went full steam ahead and organised our first world music and arts festival.

We only had a small budget but with many artists giving their time for free we booked a steel band, a Gambian drum and dance troupe, a reggae/funk band from Hackney plus a few local bands. We also had craft stalls, djembe (African drum) and Gospel singing workshops, poetry and a photographic exhibition. It took a lot of hard work to organise.

On the day, we nervously waited for all the bands, the volunteers and, not forgetting, the audience to turn up!

Much to our relief it was a great success. It was wonderful to see how much everyone enjoyed it, including the musicians, and at the end of the day people were asking us if we were going to do it all again next year.

We have already started planning our third festival so what started as a one off looks set to become an annual event. We now also organise occasional evening gigs.

Since we started in 2007 our events have included musicians from countries throughout Africa and Europe, as well as the Caribbean and South America. Through Nyodema, I have meet some wonderful people, in the UK as well as in The Gambia, and gained many friends. Our sound engineer, Benny, is fantastic and copes with anything we throw at him and there are many other volunteers who we couldn’t do without.

People from work have also got involved including David Williams who ran the Great South Run, raising over £400, Jason Dicks whose alter ego as a magician entertained the crowds at the festival last year and a number of others have donated raffle prizes as well as children’s clothes, shoes and toys for us to distribute. We’re also grateful to The Gambia Experience for sponsoring both our festivals to date plus one of the evening gigs.

Any events coming up and what projects have you got planned next out in The Gambia?

This year’s festival will be at The Regis Centre in Bognor on Sunday 23rd August.

Before then however, we have a “Gospel Sing” organised with the help of British Gospel Arts and a local music school. A full day’s gospel singing workshop will be followed by a performance on Saturday 16th May at The Regis School of Music.

Africa has a rich choral tradition and in June Andrea Encinas (director of British Gospel Arts with many years experience in choral work) will be spending a week in The Gambia with us to work with a number of community choirs. http://www.britishgospelarts.com

We will be buying mosquito nets for the first year new entrants in June and upgrading facilities and equipment at the infant school in Jeddah, Brikama. We are currently looking into ways of developing the teachers further.

Further training courses in synthetic phonics for infant school teachers from a number of different schools in the area have been arranged.

Jola Festival

Jola Festival, The Gambia Jola Festival, The Gambia

In 2007 Nyodema’s first fund raising event included a photographic exhibition showing different aspects of Gambian life. With this in mind, we were invited by the Camarra family to a very important event – the initiation of their sons.

This is part of a large Jola festival with Jolas – an ethnic group present in The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau – from across The Gambia (and beyond) gathering together.

It was the day after we arrived in The Gambia, so with no time to acclimatise we were up early in the morning to meet Lamin and to start the drive up country.

Most of the way the roads were good but eventually we reached the bumpy dirt tracks we’d been warned about. After about an hour of jostling along we arrived at the temporary village built for the festival near Kanilai. Thousands of people had formed an arena and various groups were marching around, singing and displaying banners. Outside the arena the crowds strained their necks to look on and many had climbed trees to get a better view.

We were lucky to be given permission to go inside the arena to get some better photos. Knife-dancers, dressed in baggy trousers that would give MC Hammer a run for his money, were dipping large knifes in holy water prepared by their marabouts. They were only too willing to demonstrate for my camera how the sharp blades did not cut them. Unnerving but fascinating to watch, they used everything from cutlasses and razors blades to energetically strike their bodies without ever leaving a scratch.

Jola Festival, The Gambia Jola Festival, The Gambia

Back outside the arena the atmosphere was just as exciting. With long strands of beads crossing their torsos the sisters of those being initiated danced to frantic rhythms tapped out on triangular chimes. Punctuating the drumming, whistle blowing, chanting and dancing, thunderously loud bags exploded in my ears as ‘canons’ were ignited (metal tubes stuffed with gunpowder that are pushed into the ground and light by a fuse).

The mid-day sun was now high in the sky and we moved away from the crowds to find some shade. Sitting on a rug under a tree, we chatted with passers by while a couple of little girls plaited our hair.

We were served a traditional meal of goat (hopefully not the cute little one I saw tied up earlier). Everyone gathered around a large bowl and using either hands or spoons tucked in. The families of those being initiated have to save for many years as they are expected to feed not only their relatives and guests but also the local villagers.

When we’d finished our meal I photographed group after group of family members and friends.

Jola Festival, The Gambia Jola Festival, The Gambia

Then came the initiation of the sons. Friends and relatives pinned money onto their clothes before they were hoisted on to someone’s shoulders and led out into the bush. Traditionally they would spend weeks in the bush with their older male relatives learning about their responsibilities as a man, so we were surprised when they came straight back again! Presumably the training is now a more ongoing thing.

Our driver wanted to get back onto the tarmac road before dark so all too quickly we had to leave. It really was a fascinating day and we felt very privileged to have been invited.

When we next returned to The Gambia a few months later we presented the family with a photo album to say thank you for a wonderful day.

For more photographs of this event, see the Nyodema Flickr stream.

For more information on Nyodema please see their MySpace page

For other festivals in The Gambia, see The Gambia Experience festivals page

A week of Song in The Gambia

I have recently returned from another wonderful week in The Gambia with my fellow Nyodema trustee, Shelagh Hamilton. This time our friend, Andrea Encinas, an experienced vocal coach, joined us. Andrea, originally from Trinidad, came to England as a nurse. She is now the director of British Gospel Arts, books choirs for The South Bank Centre, sings with the London Community Gospel Choir (you may have seen her singing at the FA Cup Final at Wembley in May!) and is studying for an MBA in Arts Management.

Well I’m pleased to say Andrea has fallen in love with The Gambia and I’m sure this will be the first of many visits.

Singing Lessons at Jeddah School Singing Lessons at Jeddah School

We had a very hectic week. Singing (and dancing) at Jeddah Progress Nursery School, Brikama was definitely one of the highlights. Andrea taught everyone some traditional Afro-Caribbean songs and the school choir from Farrato sang a mixture of English and African songs for us. Andrea’s enthusiastic approach was contagious as children, teachers and parents joined in this cultural exchange.

The recently formed drama group performed a couple of delightful short plays including one about learning English the ‘Jolly Phonics’ way and another about malaria prevention. I can’t explain how it felt to see two little girls playing, Kathryn and Shelagh, handing out mosquito nets. These two days were an excellent way to strengthen the bond between Nyodema and the local community.

Another Nyodema sponsored, teacher training course in ‘phonics’, took place over the next two days. This is a method of teaching English widely used throughout the UK and is proving to be a great success in The Gambia.

During the week we also managed to fit in a radio interview on Unique FM, a singing workshop at a Gospel church in Bakau and a visit to Serrakunda market. Andrea also took part in a couple of informal yet inspirational performances with local musicians.

The Malaria Play The Malaria Play

As Andrea had never been to the Gambia before we took a day out to explore the area, looking at different housing conditions etc. Andrea was shocked at the extent of the poverty in The Gambia (and since being back has already started raising money for Nyodema).

I mustn’t forget to mention the children’s clothes and toys that we distributed throughout the week, in particular, 14 cuddly toys donated by Elsie, the three year old daughter of another Gambia Experience staff member. After looking at some photographs of Gambian children, Elsie decided that she did not need all her toys. On Boxing Day last year she sorted out all the ones she didn’t play with anymore and asked her Mum to give them to children in Africa. This was entirely her idea. Well done, Elsie!

Elsie was delighted to see the photos of her toys in Africa.

Our last night was spent dancing until the early hours to an excellent reggae/salsa band in a bar on the Senegambia strip. The following day Andrea and I said our goodbyes to the wonderful staff at our hotel (Sunset Beach in Kotu) who had made us feel so welcome and headed off to the airport.

Shelagh stayed on to organise the distribution of more mosquito nets and to meet the medical students from Florida who ran the first-aid teacher training course for us at Jeddah Progress Nursery School last year. This visit they ran a dental hygiene course for the teachers and supplied toothbrushes etc for the children.

Elsie's Teddy Elsie’s Teddy

Each time I visit The Gambia I learn so much, make numerous new friends and return home with many happy memories. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to this wonderful week. I’m very lucky to be part of ‘Nyodema’.

Kathryn

For more photographs visit Nyodema’s Flickr stream