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Our second group trip to Gambia.

There were elections in Gambia at the beginning of the year and everyone was curious to see what the mood was among the people and whether there were noticeable changes. Since the new President Adama Barrow came into government, people are full of hope that there will now be change and that living conditions will change positively. We would really like it for them.

Our second group trip to Gambia.

Kerstin Gebhardt

Our second group trip to The Gambia.

Kerstin Gebhardt, chairwoman of the association, flew to The Gambia in mid-February. The participants of the group trip arrived one by one.

Everyone was very curious to see what the mood among the people was like and whether there had been any noticeable changes since the new President Adama Barrow came to power. The people are full of hope that there will now be a change and that living conditions will change for the better. We wish them all the best.

Kerstin G. used the time to take care of the problems arising in the local projects. She first visited the garden project in Kitty. On arrival, she was overwhelmed by the fact that the entire cultivation area resembled a green oasis. “ Seeing the people working in the garden makes me happy. The women sing as they work and more and more come and want beds too. Everything is neat and tidy. The first harvests have already been sold or eaten. The chickpeas we sowed in November have grown beautifully and are absolutely delicious, and the corn is also bearing cobs and can be harvested soon. Now I'm going to plant a few more beds. The women are already looking forward to the “dilemma” because they think white women can't do gardening.”

During the stay, the stones for a storage room were made, in which the tools and seeds can then be stored.

There is a problem with our solar technology. We have had 6 water basins built on the 2-hectare site for watering, which have to be filled by a pump. Somehow, however, not enough water arrives.” I would like to install another cell on the side of the rising sun, as the pump doesn't start until 1 pm. I won't succeed. Everyone says that's nonsense. In The Gambia, all solar cells are built in one direction. When I asked them if they knew that the earth rotates and the sun is somewhere else early in the morning, they laughed. That might be the case in Germany, but in The Gambia the earth doesn't rotate, otherwise people would be constantly falling.... So much for that. So we installed three more solar cells and hope to have solved the problem.”

The next visit was to the school in Rumba. Thanks to the support of a foundation in Germany, we were able to finance the urgently needed wall. Stones were diligently produced so that construction of the wall could begin. A wild path leads through the school grounds, which some drivers used for speeding and thus endangered the children. The wall is intended to provide protection. The village elder wants to support the project and if we need land, we would get it from the village community. He is so happy that the school is getting support. The wish is to get 3 new classrooms. That way, we no longer have to teach in two shifts. The principal explained to us that the school belonged to the village until 2014. A Dutch woman sponsored the school and the teachers' salaries. After she divorced her Gambian husband, the support stopped. The school then fell into disuse as the community was unable to pay. This is what it looks like when dependencies are created. Everything collapses when the sponsor disappears. Angel Awa Jarjou, a woman from the village, then went to the government and asked for support, as there were 3 classrooms. The government hired new teachers (currently 5) and classes could begin. Gradually, more and more children arrived and the school was bursting at the seams. There are currently 93 children in Nursery 1-3 // and 64 pupils in Primary in the afternoons. During our second visit with all the participants of the tour group, we were able to see for ourselves that the wall was completed in just 4 days. We were simply overwhelmed by the speed. It's fantastic what the Gambians can achieve when they want something as urgent as the wall. The school now has new toilets, a well and a wall. The planning for 3 new classrooms is now underway. The joy about the donated school material was huge.

We also paid a visit to the school garden project in Sanyang. All the helpers were delighted to see us. At the meeting with the village elder, we learned that the garden area is no longer sufficient to finance the teachers with the yield. The women would like a larger piece of land. We made it clear to those present that we would not buy any land. That has to be done by the villagers themselves. We can only help them build a well or a wall/fence. Our top priority of not creating dependencies is very important to us.

The days of our trip were full of important work. Grandpa's social insurance was reinstated and the car needed an MOT and minor repairs. Gerti and Ursula bought the necessary medication for the village doctor in Kitty, who treated our manager free of charge. Elke Dartsch still had a suitcase full of bandages. The joy at the doctor's can hardly be put into words. Jens, Elke and Ursula counted the orange trees at our garden project in Kitty. Ulrich, our newcomer, trained the soccer team. So everyone had their task and the time flew by. The many donated children's items, balloons, sweets and balls were distributed during the respective visits.

The conclusion of all Hand in Hand members was that the effort was worthwhile and the help was appreciated. The Gambians accept the projects well and are happy to cultivate them. The sale of the harvest provides the families with a small income and enriches their daily meals. Once again, we have learned a lot about the people and the culture and are looking forward to the new tasks and challenges.

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