This is a short account of my visit to Gambia with Seedlings in March 09. Its short because there is so much to share but I am unable to put it all into words.
I suggest if you ever have the opportunity and privilege to visit Gambia then do. Its such a welcoming country though very poor, its rich in love, friendship and kindness. The people have so little bit want to give so much, which they do in their smiles and attitude [nice to be nice].
I visited Serrekunda Hospital and was shocked by the lack of medical provision, privacy. 4 kidney dishes, a metal bin and fold up curtain and that was the waiting and dressing area. I discovered that this hospital helps thousands of people and its not the main hospital. It was in need of running water, a place to see patients privately and a complete paint job. The work the team of Seedlings did a fantastic job in a very short time, installing water systems and a new sink, built a new room for dressings and seeing patients privately, a new office, hung metal gates to improve security, loads of cleaning, painting and decorating, all of which was done while the hospital continued see the patients. There is still lots more work at Serrekunda hospital but an amazing amount was done in such a limited time!
I think one of my loveliest points was when visited a compound in Kotu which is built on and around a rubbish dump. Children ran, threw the rubbish [ glass,cans, metal etc, ] all barefooted. People actually live there. I couldn’t believe my eyes and then knew why God had directed me here. The children have nothing but continually smile and want to hold hands with you. Pigs, goats, dogs are also roaming on this dump so the risk of infection is so high. I had the privilege of putting a pair of second hand shoes on little girls feet and I prayed I could clothe all the children ’’ Lord I’m not worthy to tie the straps of your sandals but please let me place shoes upon your children’s feet’’.
I kept thinking I have nothing to moan about in England. Me, me, me that’s what I hear, stretched out little hands for sweets, pencils, bracelets, so many hands but not enough to give everyone of them.
The children loved to be hugged, hold hands and especially play with my hair or stroke my skin. Some children cried because they had not seen a white person before, others ran after us shouting ‘’toubob’’ meaning white man. ]
I met a young girl called Madeleine after church and she asked me to sponsor her. I met her brother and mother. Madeline is 10 yrs old this year and wants to be a dr. The people of Gambia want to learn but its hard for them when they are having to think where their next meal is coming from. I felt so safe in Gambia and happy, though frustrated at times for not doing/giving more.
We visited Tendaba and remote villages that rarely sees outsiders. One village is mostly surrounded by water. The school was in poor disrepair. One part has no roof the other half had. So no school in the rainy season. Very limited resources but again sheer jubilance at our arrival, dancing, singing playing music from a plastic oil container [hitting it with sticks!] Babies on mothers backs and on children’s backs.
Gambia is amazing. I love the country and it people and cant wait to return.
A huge thank you to Ruthy, Josh, Ted, Beth and all the fellow seedlings who helped me feel so welcome. Muriel without you talking to me about your experiences in Gambia 08. I wouldn’t of had such a an experience. My way of thinking has changed and my way of praying. I know now that I am praying to God and He listens to each and everyone of us if we talk to Him. He listens and answers.
God Bless. Ali