Friday, 16 July 2010

doing my bit for tourism

We had a little weekend away in Boboi - stunning beach entirely to ourselves, give or take a cow or two.

We actually went with the intention of being able to watch the World Cup final together. Emma phoned ahead to check they had a generator and a telly, essential ingredients for this trip, we were given the go ahead to book. Lucy, Phil and I headed down there on Friday, sunned ourselves, then sank a bottle of red or two, Emma and Carol joined us on Saturday and we gave the white a try, then Paul and Courtney arrived for more fun and games on Sunday. We pre-oredered our dinner to arrive nice and early pre-match and put in an advanve request for the wine to be put in the freezer. The big screen is manhandled from someone's house into the small bar and we settle down to watch. Paul got a sweepstake up and running and I managed to get the 2 Dutch players I fancied the most. I mostly ignored Lucy complaining that she had the goalie who was never going to be the first to score. We invested time and energy into that match. As the rain got heavier the pack of dogs that live there snook into the bar and slept on our feet. By full-time with still no goals, we'd drank all the white wine and had to go back onto red. We lost the signal due to the rain, but it came back on just as extra-time began. 5 mins before the end of extra-time we lost the signal for good. Only thanks to the phone call from Courtney's mum dis we know the final score. Brilliant.

I seem to have failed to write about the time we had a lock-in in Soma......
At the end of a particularly stressful research week for Courtney, after she and Paul suffered a somewhat harrowing cabbage-throwing incident in the market, we headed to the 'bar' for a medicinal Julbrew. The plan was to have one there, then take some back to their hotel garden. Well the rain started. Quite a downpour in fact. Elaine, our local landlady, had to lock the doors the wind had got up that much. There are holes in the walls to help keep the place cool in the sun, but they also let the water in when it rains. We moved the tables into the middle of the room and ordered another round or three.
Fantastic opportunity to watch the kids playing football in the puddles, sans wellies.

Any views expressed are my own and are not representative of VSO.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

school's out for summer

well technically school is out for summer in another 2 weeks, but as not much will go on due to exams and the annual conference is looming, I've left Soma and returned to the Kombos.
We've been quite busy for the last week helping out with the Valuing Teacher's Research which is being funded by the NUT. Courtney, a VSO colleague, is running this research which looks into the contributions of unqualified teachers to education in The Gambia. We've spent the last week helping out interviewing teachers. It's been really good to get into some pretty rural school and speak to people. One young teacher I spoke to left school with no qualifications at all and is working in a very rural Madrassa school where there are only 2 classrooms and 2 teachers for over two hundred pupils. He was asked by the village elders to take the job as there was no-one else to do it and he will continue teaching until they find someone, although this could be years. He was incredibly motivated in such a situation and being in a Madrassa school doesn't get the same opportunities for training as some of the schools we work with, but spoke very highly of the training he'd had so far. Makes you think.

Last weekend Lucy and I went on a mission to collect a bamboo bed from Faraffeni. Emma and Carol brought the bed from Kerewan and we were to collect it and bring it back to Soma. I braced myself for a hellish day and was pleasantly surprised when the whole experience was actually quite enjoyable! There are definite benefits to living in a country where people are very used to strapping things on the roof of a car. One very helpful taxi driver somehow made a single bed fit into the boot of his car...

It's a dirty business using public transport up-country.

Any views expressed are my own and are not representative of VSO.