Three weeks in a another world – three weeks in Afrika

First time out of Germany. The first time without family and friends within reach. The first flight …and then directly to Africa. “Did you perhaps overestimate yourself a little?” There are not even houses here …at least nothing that I would call houses. Semi-finished building ruins, corrugated iron huts and everywhere so frightening a lot of garbage. I had imagined it differently. At the beginning of my planned semester in The Gambia I found – to be honest – everything quite horrible. The garbage, the stench, the heat. At the beginning I didn’t know how well I would get along with Pierre-Victor, James, Manlafi, Mamie and the other teachers at Sannehmentereng School. That we would celebrate together in the evening, eating and going to church. And that they would quickly become not only super committed colleagues for me, but first and foremost good friends with whom I still have contact. Another good friend is Wandi, who took us in his taxi to the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Joyehto’s Beach Bar is the name of the beach bar where he works. There are palm trees, huge shells, sunsets right behind the ocean and waves up to three meters high. On some days you should even see dolphins. I would never have thought how hard it would be in the beginning to get my way in Grade 1 and Nursery 1 against 35 noisy, turned up and partly not a word of English speaking kids. And I never would have thought how much they would grow on me in the short time and how hard it would be for me to say goodbye again. The trainee house with the birds under the roof, the flexible power supply, the permanently clogged shower, the giant insects that somehow always found their way through the mosquito screens and the ant colony under the oven, with which we fought a constant war for our food, has also become a bit like a home. Just like Lamin and Ibrima, our Watchmen, who chivalrously protected us from all insects, became a bit like family. Like family is Hatab, the coordinator, who was always there for us and without whom we would really have been lost in the first week. After 3 weeks, 6 months earlier than planned, we are sitting in the plane back to Germany. Too early. The time here was too short. I

Photo Evening Experience Gambia in Dortmund on 12.10.18

On October 12, 2018 I presented the impressions and experiences of our trip in March this year at Café Lebensart, Dortmund. Many photos, little films and stories generated enormous interest among the 60 participants. Below you can see the agenda sketched on a flip chart. The travel report can be read on the association’s website under News. The group of drummers around Anke Filipiak, Leben mit Musik, accompanied the evening very rhythmically and atmospheric. Karin Neumüller, from the board, had travelled especially from Amberg. Among other things, she actively supported us in answering the visitors’ many questions. And my daughter Miriam, after Karin’s instruction at the Gambian table, diligently handed over woodcarvings and articles sewn by our tailor in Gambia against donations. The team of Ina Oettinghaus, club member and owner of the Lebensart Café, fed the visitors with many delicious cakes and a red lentil soup, so that nobody had to go home hungry. And in a few months the 3rd part follows. With this in mind, many greetings from Dortmund,   Heike Hagemann  

A new school year begins

Also in Gambia the long summer holidays have come to an end and school life started again. The last days of the holidays were used by the caretakers, the carpenters and the cooks to renew the fly screens and window frames of the classrooms and to free the classrooms from the dust of the holidays. Also the coordinator Mr. Beyai helped and relentlessly painted the wood for the window frames. Most of the girls and boys could hardly wait for the start of the new school year on 17.09. and were proud to attending a higher class. Director Mr. Jatta welcomed all students and reminded them how important mutual respect is for a successful school day. Afterwards, the director welcomed the new Nursery 1 students who entered the school with their parents. After Mr. Jatta explained some of the school’s rules and stressed the importance of punctuality and proper school uniforms, the little ones were assigned to the two classes and started their first day of school. Full of pride they left the school grounds at the end of the school day with the new uniforms, which had already been sewn at the SkillCenter before the holidays.  In the meantime, everyday life has returned and pupils and teachers are striving for good learning. Starting from 01.10. the school will be supported by our two new interns Laura and Hannah. I was very happy to experience the first school day at the Sannehmentereng Lower Basic School this year and wish Laura and Hannah also a good “school start” in Gambia. Verena (former intern)

Welcome to the Hutzelhof courtyard

The association “Socialis for The Gambia e.V.” was again pleased to receive an invitation from the Hutzelhof farmer to the Hutzelhoffest on 16. 09.2018. Committed members and board members were happy to present products from The Gambia. For a donation interested persons had the possibility to bring woodcarvings, fabrics and other small things into their possession. We are also happy to select special gifts from our stands. Talented Gambier carve wooden figures which are e.g. a lasting and also appealing gift to bridal couples. The association is particularly pleased that many of the sewing products offered for sale at the stand come from the trained seamstresses of the association’s own Skill Centers in Brufut and Sintet. The seamstresses themselves are especially proud when they can give their work to us in Germany and want to show their gratitude. Through the association you have a perspective to provide for your livelihood through your own work. The interest and the willingness to donate of the festival visitors was enormous and we would like to thank everyone who helped in any way.

Significant exploration in Gambia

Because you can achieve more together – this was the motto of my trip to Gambia in May. I work voluntarily for the NGO “Technik ohne Grenzen”, an association that aims to improve living conditions in developing countries through technical solutions. We implement projects worldwide in the fields of water, energy, waste management and technical education. It was against this background that the idea of cooperation between Technik ohne Grenzen, Socialis for The Gambia and the Rotary Club Amberg was born to improve the living conditions of the people in The Gambia. I spent two weeks in Gambia, from 18 May to 02 June. I was accompanied by Verena from Rottenburg and Nash from Kumasi, Ghana, who complemented mine with their technical expertise. This time we spent half in Sintet and half in Brufut to visit the school and the Skill Centers with regard to water and energy supply, sanitary facilities and handling garbage. During the first week in Sintet it turned out very quickly that the water supply at the Skill Center, but also in the whole town, is seen as a big problem. During our stay we examined and categorized the different water sources of the district Fulakunda and had water samples from the different boreholes analysed in the water laboratory. In Sintet we also visited the school, the hospital and the kindergarten, the women of the village showed us their community garden. At the Skill Center in Sintet we were welcomed by teachers and students. We were there on several days and discussed with the agricultural teacher Lamin S. Jammeh and the coordinator Samba Sowe the irrigation situation of the fields of the agricultural school as well as the need for better sanitary facilities. On the subject of sustainable toilet systems, we also gave a lecture to the agricultural class. The toilets available there are in poor condition. With regard to the irrigation of the fields, the new, deeper borehole is active and thus enables the agricultural class to cultivate the fields. However, the irrigation system is not yet sufficient to allow irrigation of the entire area under cultivation. I was thrilled to see with what interest and commitment the teachers there were pursuing their work despite these difficulties. The second week in Brufut was different. Brufut is much more urban and touristic. We visited the school and the Skill Center there. During our visit to the

Interhouse Competition – The sporting highlight of the school year, not only for the pupils.

All 618 students from Nursery 1 to 6th grade, teachers, guards and trainees, even the trainees of the Skill Center in Brufut were randomly assigned red, yellow, green and blue to the 4 houses (Kundas). A really nice idea to break up class structures and motivate everyone who belongs to the school family for a common event. And everyone was motivated! In Sport Week there was no other topic than „In which house are you in?“, „Blue wins!“, and countless discussions among the teachers with absurd arguments for the victory of the respective house: „Green! Take a look around in nature. Green all round!“ After 3 hard training days and complex transformation of the clay court into a real sports stadium, it was time on 22.03.: the 11th Interhouse Competition took place. We know the strength of African runners from big competitions on TV – here we could also see where the basis for it is laid. With incredible ambition and endurance, the children sprinted barefoot for their team in the sand from an estimated 80 m (Nursery) to 800 m. The competition was loosened up by disciplines such as the tripod, in which 2 children each ran together with their inner legs tied together, or jumped, egg run (here with limes), picking up balls, filling up water bottles, trip to Jerusalem. Surprisingly, none of the older girls crossed the finish line wearing a bucket of water on their heads, although you can really admire women on the streets doing this every day. Until lunch break it was an intense head-to-head race between the green and blue houses. Now that everyone had to wait longer for the school cooks‘ delicious food, a cheerful and exuberant dance party developed spontaneously. Strengthened we went to the seasons. But suddenly the children of the blue team stumbled, lost the baton, green became slower and so the red house literally ran over the two Kundas. Finally 2 highlights for the audience were on the program: „Wrestling“ and „Teachers Race“. Everyone freaked out in wrestling when one of the few chubby students was more than surprisingly thrown to the ground. The two teacher races, at which we interns all had fun (and success), formed the conclusion of a very intensive, emotional and unforgettable sports day. Lisa (Trainee in Gambia)

Impressions of our trip to the Gambia in March 2018

After telling with shining eyes about the group trip Easter 2017, my husband Karsten Schulz and Marcus Zamecnik were curious and wanted to explore the facilities of Socialis for The Gambia themselves. We would like to infect you with our report and have therefore summarised our very personal impressions and experiences. Directly on Monday morning we went on foot, with a box of badminton games for the children, to our school Sannehmentereng and were warmly welcomed by Mr. Jatta, the headmaster of the school. We admired the newly created school garden, see also the current internship report of Sarah and Nyara. Waltraud Haid has set up a table for an initial wound treatment in the Creative House. Tuesday we visited our Skill Center and I can report that things are very different here than last year. The hairdressers now have access to the street and the tailors will also finish their sales room, a changing room is in preparation and a sales counter is already available. The urgently needed solar system will be installed in April. We were very happy about the invitation of our teacher Ebriama Jallow to his home. We were allowed to see everything and experience his life situation live. Two small rooms for 5 people, cooking outside. Despite the few means he plans his life among other things by paying for his own property. He can be proud of himself and his family. Hatab Beyai, our local manager, and Waltraud Hain take us to our agricultural school in Sintet on Wednesday. The car ride is already exciting for the two newcomers, at the roadside, local people sell, grill, donkey and horse carts drive, often we see very old trucks that have stopped, car tires are simply burned next to the road. Since the Easter round trip in 2017 I often had to think of our visit to the village of Bintang. On the way back Hatab Beyai stopped there at my request and gave me a great pleasure personally. On Thursday we went back to school to witness the 11th Interhouse Competition Sports Festival. The children including the Skill Center apprentices were divided into four groups (blue, red, green, yellow). For egg running, sack racing, relay, carrying water, collecting balls and various short and long distances there were points, which were documented on a board after each run-in. Saturday morning we went with the headmaster Mr.

Internship report Sarah and Nyara

Since the school garden has not been used much lately and was rather overgrown, Mr. Jatta and I set out to replant it with the help of the students and some teachers. Now tomatoes, lettuce, onions and other vegetables are growing again in the school garden and are waiting to be harvested. On Friday, March 2nd, surprisingly German doctors visited us at school. They came to help children with wounds, eye, skin and other problems. As support for the doctors we went from class to class and collected children with any injuries. The most common concerns of the children were wounds, followed by eye and vision problems, stomach problems and cystitis. The doctor and the two medical students took time for each of these children individually. Since we didn‘t know anything about a visit of a doctor from Germany until then, we were very positively surprised and found it very interesting and sometimes helpful to watch the doctors. In the meantime Lisa and Theresa have also arrived in Gambia, so there are now five of us for some time. On 12.03. was a special day in Gambia, on which we could participate in the school: the Commonwealth Day. Since this day was not celebrated in the old regime for many years, many preparations were made and everyone looked forward to the special day. The individual classes all prepared a lecture about different countries (nursery classes) or the different tribes of Gambia (classes 1-6). On Monday they were allowed to present their lectures. The children danced, sang and played little sketches. Afterwards we had dinner and danced together. All in all it was a beautiful and eventful day with many impressions and fun! Sarah and Nyara

Boy, did you grow up!

It crossed my mind when I visited Gambia, not only when I saw some students, but also when I entered the Skill Center in Sintet. Since my last visit in 2014, amazing things have happened there. Next to the tailoring building there is now a new building complex of the nursery. And the agricultural school is not to be overlooked on the property. Garlic, potatoes and tomatoes are already growing in the numerous beds. The lack of water in Sintet alone reduces the promising tomato harvest. Hopes are therefore high that the well will be drilled deeper in order to provide enough water for the tomatoes and the other beds. And also at the school in Brufut the new school garden promises a rich harvest of onions, salad, eggplant and other vegetables, which can be used for school meals. The students help tirelessly with irrigation and thus learn agricultural skills on the side. Finally, the Skill Center in Brufut surprised me with a new ‚look‘. By opening the walls, access to the newly furnished hairdressing salon was made possible. This is run independently by young women who have successfully completed their training in the Skill Center. And also for the trained apprentices of the tailoring department such help is planned for the start of their independent professional life, in the form of the tailoring shop at the Skill Center. The projects in the Gambia (and of course the students) continue to grow, so I am looking forward to my next visit. Verena (former intern)

Meeting in Dortmund

My photo evening in Dortmund in August last year has not only left a lasting impression on many people, but it was also donated diligently and in the course of time some have decided to become members of the association.. On 26.01.18 the new Dortmund club members and supporters met for the first time in Café Lebensart. I reported on the Gambian Evening and showed some recent photos, including the additional pump from the water tower in Sintet, the new wall in front of the hairdresser and tailor building in Brufut and the Nursery classes. I am very happy to pass on the latest news, Dr. Jürgen Remmerbach has informed us that the Rotary Club Dortmund Hörde will support the solar system in Brufut with 2.500 Euro. I myself experienced the heat on a group trip in March 2017 and am delighted that the Skill Center and Internship House in Brufut will once again have electricity available for the fans, among other things. With delicious winter punch and cake we thought together how we could make the next planned photo evening even better. As soon as there is news from Dortmund, we will report. Until then, many greetings from all of us in Dortmund. Your Heike Hagemann
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