Sunday, 19 June 2011

Happy Fathers Day Dad!

Happy Fathers Day Dad!

I'm sure my dad will thank me *ahem* for posting these photos, but one day, in the distant past, he was rather stylish and a bit of a poser! So Happy Fathers Day, dad, here's a few more photos to embarrass you with :D

The day mum and dad got married

Family holiday in Spain - we would go to Spain every year in May. I have some brilliant memories of these annual holidays! Oh and I'm the one with the crazy hair!

My dad making up my train set on Christmas day! It really was the best train set ever, the train picked up logs when it passed one of the buildings and then you could drop them off further round the track. Needless to say, we didn't get use of the dining table for weeks after!

So, Sorry dad that I'm 300 miles away in Leeds, but here's to a very happy fathers day and I'll make you a cup of tea when I come back home, like the good old times! :)

Friday, 17 June 2011

Out and About in The Gambia!

While we were in The Gambia doing charity work in the school we jumped at the chance to see a bit of the country and local community as well. We spent the weekends on excursions and exploring The Gambia! We visited the Crocodile Pool - where there were no boundaries between you and the crocs! You were allowed to touch them as well, but we arrived just after they'd been fed and they were less than cooperative and wanted to laze around in the sun rather than come over and meet us!

We posed in a huge silk cotton tree! While in Africa I saw some of the largest trees I have ever seen, some must have been hundreds and hundreds of years old!
We also visited a Batik Factory and were given a demonstration of the traditional techniques of batiking and were able to have a go ourselves! I bought myself a few pieces of artwork - I thought they'd make great resources for school!

The fishing village - now this was an experience! There were unbelievable amounts of people, fish, boats and gulls on the beach, it was quite overwhelming (as was the aroma of drying and smoking fish). The men bring the fish up from the boats in buckets and wheelbarrows and the women lay out the catch at the top of the beach for locals to buy.

We visited several craft markets (all of which made a considerable dent in my bank balance!) I bought enough African musical instruments to create my own Gambian orchestra! I bought a drum, balaphone, two kora's, six different types of shakers, rattles... all of which would be fabulous for an African music lesson!

The Monkey park was brilliant. There were thousands of monkeys scattered around the nature park and the trees and surroundings were beautiful. There were so many adorable baby monkeys! I saw this little family group cuddling and stroking the newly born baby monkey in the centre of their huddle... so cute!

Here's me, our guide Lamin and a huge termite mound in the nature park

Our guide, Lamin, very generously invited us back to his compound to meet his family and to enjoy a traditional Gambian meal. Above is Lamin and his elder daughter cooking the food ready for us to eat!

They served up Barracuda Benachin - a spiced and tomato flavoured rice dish, as I cannot eat fish I could only try some of the rice - but what I did try was absolutely delish!

The next course was Goat Domoda and rice - my favourite! The locals call this dish "peanut soup" and it is a very rich peanut sate-like sauce

The meal was followed by the most delicious fresh mango and bananas! They were the best bananas and mangoes I have ever eaten! As most Gambians do not have electricity and therefore lack refrigerators, the women and children shop for food at local markets every day and the ingredients are fresh and it shows in the flavour of the food.

Towards the end of our two weeks we went down the river Gambia on a little boatride through the mangroves. It was lovely!

The Gambia Girls!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Most Amazing Trip to Africa!

I've just returned from the most amazing trip to The Gambia - it was one of the best things I have ever done! To see more of the hard work we did in the classrooms have a little look at this blog post. While we were having breaks from the scrubbing and painting we went into the playgrounds to meet the children in the school and use some of the resources that we donated... So here are a few photos of the fun we had!

Charity Work in a School in The Gambia

I have just returned from The Gambia! I've been out in West Africa working for a charity called F.R.O.G.S (friends of Gambian schools). It's a brilliant charity that works with over 100 schools all over Tha Gambia, working to improve education for children throughout the country. For those of you that don't know, I had raised £1000 to go and transform some classrooms in Bijilo Lower Basic School by cleaning, white-washing and painting their learning resources onto the walls. The school cannot afford to provide the children with textbooks so this enabled all children to access the learning...

The Gambia Girls team!
The classroom before we got our hands on it. The floors were crumbling away with huge holes in, the walls were dirty and bare... but not for long!

After a lot of elbow grease, we scrubbed, rinsed and white-washed the walls all ready for the learning resources to be painted onto them!

The respiratory system

Please excuse my hair and general scruffy appearance, when you're working hard in the 40 degree heat of Africa, there is no time for beautifying!

Adult and milk teeth diagrams, a cross-section of skin and the excretory system.

Traditional costumes of The Gambia

An 8-point compass with a cheeky elephant to help the children remember :)

The new improved chalk board

The Gambian crest

A map of The Gambia

We left our own little signatures to mark our hard work, each of us printed our hand and wrote our name

The most rewarding part was letting the children back into their new classroom and straight away they started using the resources on the walls. Here is a boy reading aloud the poem "you are what you eat" that we painted onto the wall.

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

The Head Teacher Mr Fatty and one of the teachers, Lamin, with some children enjoying the resources that we provided the school with!

I had the most incredible time in The Gambia, and already almost all of us are talking about returning to Africa again! I suspect that we will all be bogged down with a million things when we enter our NQT year of teaching so it might have to wait, but one day I will be going back!