Thursday, 19 July 2012

Sarah making lait
I am now on my own in Basse. Sarah left this morning for Kombos and at the end of August will be flying home to the UK. Watching Spaced, Upstairs Downstairs and Lewis won’t be the same without her. I will miss her, especially round the office, even more so through the summer.

Teachers' Transport Gelli Gellis

The Gambian Government put on buses to transport teachers at the end of term back down to the Kombos. from the various regions. All the region 6 teachers left this morning from various points all over the URR and not long afterwards, virtually the entire staff of the Regional Office followed. So now it is just me, Fatu the Records Officer, Oulay the Secretary and Ali the Education Officer left. I am not sure what to do over the next 7 weeks! I do have a visit planned to Senegal with Beth and Helen and then a few days in Kombos when Sarah leaves and the new batch of volunteers arrive.
Teachers' Transport

I am now officially the last VSO Education volunteer left in the URR. Hopefully, there will be some of the new volunteers posted to Basse but at present I have no idea where they are going, what they are doing or who they are. It would be nice to get some volunteers up here, but I am not all that lonely as I have made some friends here and with my compound brothers disturbing me every night to use my gas, get some tea, have some sugar or just for a chat I don’t get much time on my own anyway! How I long for my lovely, little, quiet flat at times where I could get some peace and time to myself. They just don’t seem to do that here. There is always someone around and solitude is not really an option.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Recently I visited Wassu, a little village on the North Bank about 130km west of Basse. The village itself is nothing remarkable, but is renowned in West Africa for its stone circle. Think Stonehenge but on a much smaller scale. There are thousands of these stone circles all over West Africa built to the much the same scale as one another, even though they are hundreds of miles apart. Wassu is by far the most well known.  It is the most peaceful place I have been to for a long while. Nothing around but the birds and insects to disturb you. We were the only visitors to the place. Visitors place small stones on top of the larger ones, reminding me of cairns back home. Anyone who visits The Gambia and makes the break from the Kombos, this is one place you should visit.
Wassu Stone Circle

Wassu Stone Circle

Me at Wassu Stone Circle

Wassu Stone Circle

Well we just had the 3rd Annual Teachers’ Awards here in Region 6 at the weekend. Winners were only picked the Wednesday before and certificates were only being organised on the actual day! As with all things Gambian, events never start on time. It was due to start at 9am, but guess what didn’t start till 11.30am! When it got going, it started well. The speeches were all nice and generally short. The audience enjoyed the Martial Arts display buy the local all girl’s school. Then the Minister of Education got up to talk. Even when food was being handed out to the audience she kept talking, infact she talked for an hour. She talked for that long, Jallow (our PEO) missed out the segment where some schools were to perform plays as it was way overtime. However, they did not let this deter them. St Georges Upper Basic (Primary 7 to 2nd year) burst into the hall at just the right moment. Jallow never knew what hit him. It was a very funny moment. I am so glad they did it as the play all about FGM which is a big issue here and is still widely practised. The kids were great and they wrote it all themselves. Another school who had missed out also did the same, didn't have quite the same impact as the other one, but still quite good as Jallow was really sideswiped each time. Unfortunately, the last school to perform tried it too, but this time he was ready and sadly they never got to perform.

All in all the, thing never finished till gone 3.30pm. Not sure how the VSOs managed last year, but am informed it was just as long.

Sarah & I in our finery at RED 6 3rd Annual Teachers' Awards

Oh and forgot to say I was on GRTS, Gambia’s only tv station. The 10pm news broadcast a bulletin about the shebang and there I was sitting quite happily in the audience. Thankfully wide awake and bushytailed, even if it was the briefest of glimpses!