Gambia: A group of 20, 15 students and 5 teachers spent a week in The Gambia giving donations to local schools and hospitals as well as spending two days carrying out renovations on a local nursey school.
Below are the diary entries of Shelly, Raphael, Khakan and Christina.
Tuesday, 2nd February 2016
Today was the big day! All the build-up and hard work was about to pay. We met at the school at 5pm and we did our final packing and checks. We hopped into the bus and began our journey. We drove to Dublin to port. The drive was quite fun, we just talked and listened to music for the whole journey. We waited at the port for a little while and drove onto the ferry. We went for a nice little adventure around the ferry and ran up to the deck. Christopher and I went up onto the helipad, the view was surreal. We took our little corner on the ferry and all sat down and chatted away, I loved the ferry! We also went into the arcade and playing racing games, it was good craic. When we stopped at Holyhead at around midnight. We then drove all the way to Manchester airport. The airport was so boring and dead, there was barely anyone there. I cannot believe that I paid 13 pounds for two burger king burgers in the airport, but oh well. There was a guy trying to convince us to buy a ticket to win a car. After hours of waiting we boarded the plane and took our seats. The plane was really small and had a foul smell to it that turned me off straight away. I was in and out of sleep on the journey. I could feel the heat about 4 hours into the journey when we were over the Sahara Desert. When we landed the heat hit me instantly and I loved it! The wind was warm and the heat was lethal. We took a small shuttle to the airport building. The airport was TINY! After security checks we got onto our bus to get us to the hotel. We were greeted by the Keba, he was such a nice person and gave us a warm welcome he also showed us around a bit. I noticed the stray dogs and cows all over the roads. I could instantly see the extreme wealth and poverty of the country, mainly poverty. We stayed at the Palma Rima hotel. It had a very nice entrance and the staff were super friendly. We were checked into our rooms and given our keys. I shared a room with Raphael and Christopher. Our room is the closest to the swimming pool so we are super lucky! We all got changed into our swimming togs and jumped straight in. The cold water instantly gave me a sense of relaxation and took away all my tiredness. Later in the night we went for dinner at the beach which is right behind the hotel and a 2 or 3 minute walk. As soon as we stepped onto the beach we were stormed by people greeting us. The people there are so friendly, everyone wants to talk to you or spend some time with you. I met this guy named Sanna, he was so nice and told me he owned a small stall where he sold bracelets and jewellery etc. I also met this guy named Wurry, he loved talk and dance, Raphael taught him how to whip and nae nae, it was absolutely hilarious! We also met a guy who was training for wrestling, they then had a small wrestling match which was fun to watch. We then ate at the beach, I had Chicken Yalla, which was a chicken curry dish with rice, it was delicious! We walked back to the hotel and fell asleep instantly.
4th of February
Today we woke up at 6 o’clock in the morning and got a lovely breakfast at the hotel. We then got our supplies and packed them on board the jeep taxis. The taxis were so cool, our jeep was the best because it didn’t break down 😉 We then set off to visit Frumus’ primary school. I really enjoyed the ride, it was so breezy, the scenery was so interesting and standing up was great. The school was so nice, the kids were so cute and adorable. They presented themselves with songs they learned. We showed them a few of our moves, but they were still better than us. At breakfast we got to interact with the kids. They were so happy and energetic. They were very playful too. We then went to the medical clinic and gave them supplies. They were pleased with them. We then went to meet Frumus’ home, our guide. He introduced us to his nice family and we tried his oranges that he was growing. They were juicy and refreshing. Then we headed to the hospital which was pretty run down looking. We got a tour of the hospital and at the end we gave them many supplies. They were so pleased with the supplies. After a long day we headed back to the hotel and a very competitive game of water polo. Wasn’t on the winning team but I had a great time!
5th of February
It was a very early morning today, woke up at 6 o’clock and got ready, got quick breakfast which we asked the hotel chef to prepare breakfast, which was very polite of them because the only open at 7:30. We then left at around at half seven for the port in Banjul. Banjul seems to be well developed area that I have seen so far. I enjoyed the city of Banjul. The port was kind of overcrowded and filled with beggars. We didn’t have to wait too long for the ferry. The ferry was not what I expected. I wouldn’t really call it a ferry, the seats were out in the open, and there was beggars and people selling food, drinks and goods. The ferry was a 30-40 minute trip. We then got a bus to the secondary school. We were welcomed by the whole school, it was wonderful. The kids were energetic. We gave them sports equipment’s such as basketball hoops and a volleyball net. The kids really enjoyed the basketball hoops. They were fighting over the ball, it was so funny. We then had a volleyball match, Ireland vs The Gambia. I was on the Gambians side for this match. It was a great match because our team won, of course we won. We then left to go back to Banjul. We we’re on top of an arch that allowed you to see the whole city of Banjul, it was astonishing!
Saturday 06 February 2016
We woke up a little later as Friday had been a long day and we didn’t have to be anywhere until 3 o’clock that afternoon. Some of the group went on an early morning beach walk with Mr Daly and the rest of us woke up a little later and stayed by the pool for the morning. At 3 o’ clock we left the hotel in our open topped Gambian jeeps and travelled an hour journey, to a secondary school where our tour guide Frumus previously worked. We dropped of bags full of educational donations to the principal of the school, who was delighted with our supplies. We purchased two orange trees for the school to plant also. After that we travelled down the road a little to a sandy field where all the students were competing in a sports day, put on especially for us. We were treated like VIP guests, given shaded seats to sit in and food prepared for us as we watched. Their enthusiasm for each sport was amazing. Some of our students took part in the sports as well, like the high jump, long jump, lime and spoon, relay races and musical chairs. It was so much fun. It was an incredible experience to see such enjoyment from both the spectators and children taking part. By the time we left the sports day and got back to the hotel, it was late enough so we had food in the hotel restaurant and got an early night. We knew Sunday was going to be a long day.
Sunday 07 February 2016
We had to get up early enough in order to buy the paint and supplies to paint the primary school. We left the hotel at 8 o’ clock and met our guide Frumus at the paint shop. After picking out nice bright colours we headed straight to the primary school ready to work. At the school we split up into different groups and teachers. Ms Spencer and her group worked on the inside of the classrooms, Mr McClearn and his group started on one boundary wall, Mr Daly and his group worked on mending the play set, Mr Walsh worked on the inside of the shop with his group and Ms Cripps worked on the other boundary wall and the outside of the shop with her group. We totally brightened up the school with fresh paint and we painted hopscotch’s and mazes for the children to play. We painted one wall the Irish Flag colours and also repainted the toilets. We all really worked hard together to get the job done. It was a really long day but it was all worth it in the end, being able to stand back and see the comparison between the before and after pictures of our work. We knew the children would love it and would enjoy it. We were proud that we had really made a difference for them. We headed back to the hotel and spent a little bit of time in the pool before dinner.
Monday 8th of February
We all woke up got ready and we had to be at the reception at 8:30am. We all got in our open top jeeps and headed to the primary school where we organised our little sports day. We had five different groups and three people in our groups. My group was doing the three legged race in a quite big circle. The kids were all enjoying them self’s, we had so much fun on that day. Each group had 7 minutes to compete with each other and then the kids swapped groups. We had long jump, three legged race, basketball shooting, relay and sack race. We had to divide 150 kids into groups and the others kids were cheering for them. It was a brilliant day we all loved it. When we finished the games Bernard one of the teachers from the schools played a game for us. We also played musical chairs which turned into a really competitive game. We had a couple of hours left and those hours were the best. The kids were singing to us they all wanted to be picked up by one of us and they didn’t want to let go. When everyone returned into their class rooms we give them a small bag which was full of sweets which we had made the night before for 150 kids. Then the sad moments came, it was really emotional most of us were crying and we did not wanted to say goodbye to the lovely people and kids in the primary school but unfortunately we had to. We all got into our jeeps and the kids were running after us saying goodbye. It was a very happy and sad moment at the same time. We then headed to a craft market which was brilliant. We all bought a lot of great handmade souvenirs. We spent a good hour in the craft market and then headed back to the hotel where we were staying.
Tuesday 9th of February
It was our last day in The Gambia and we decided to go and visit the crocodile park. We had to go through between houses to get there and the roads were not roads they were red sand. When we got there and there were a few shops front of the park. The first place we went into was a museum about African instruments and masks. We then started our tour with our guide he told us a lot of interesting things. We went to a pig pool which was green and the crocodiles were everywhere. We were allowed to touch them and take pictures with them it was so much fun. When everyone took pictures with them we headed to another side of the park where we seen a mammy crocodile and her babies, she was not happy about it I would say. When we finished our tour we headed back to the hotel where we had the rest of the day to relax and get packing for the leaving