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TEBBSSC in Gambia
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The kids were so happy to receive the gifts - some classes sang special songs for us.
It’s always been my desire to do the Tebbs Second Chances project in the Gambia. Some of my reasons may be out of sentiment, some are from moving forward with the Tebbs SC vision and some are from the “can I do it?” factor.
So three years ago when Tebbs SC was birthed, I approached Pastor Emmanuel Swaray from Pneuma Ministries in the Gambia to help me out, but as soon as the words came out of my mouth the nerves kicked it. So I stalled and stalled and stalled until 2010 when I had to allow God to take control and just do his will.
It hasn’t been easy though, from day one there have been obstacles which left me wondering whether the decision was the right one or not. With the current economic climate, the flow of stationery donations during our collection period was very slow and the amount of stationery actually collected was very limited. This meant that I personally had to buy lots of stationery items to bridge the gap.
However God blessed me and kept my mind at peace, constantly reassuring me that he will provide. For example we received a donation of old printer cartridges, which I sold on eBay and the proceeds went towards shipping costs and clearing and handling costs in the Gambia.
At the beginning of October, Denise Simon and Sophia Briggs came to my house to help me catalogue all the reading books and stationery items ready for shipping … this was Sophia’s first time helping with this stage of the project and I think she was shocked to see the work load!
A week later, I was off to the shipping company with seven giant boxes. I was very relieved when everything was boxed up and ready to go. So, with the entire shipment on its way to the Gambia with the possibility that it may not get there in time for the distribution looming, I pressed on.
On Friday 4th November at 3.30am, I left my house to meet Sophia Briggs who was accompanying me on this trip, as we had arranged to make our way to the airport together. Our tour operator allowed us just 15kg in weight for our luggage ... now ladies you know how difficult it is to travel light! In addition to this, I had to carry crucial items for the distribution in my luggage as they were not delivered in time for the shipment. When I arrived at the airport, both my suitcase and hand luggage were overweight... but God’s favour got me through.
We arrived in the Gambia at around 2pm and were picked up by the tour operator and taken to our hotel, the Senegambia Beach Hotel. After checking out our surroundings, we were met by Pastor Andrew Gomez, one of the three wonderful people who assisted us, the other two being Pastor Francis Mendy and Brother Lawrence Gomez. These three individuals were instrumental in ensuring the shipment was cleared before the start of the Tobaski holiday; a task that normally takes over a day was done in just 6 hours.
Tobaski, Tobaski, Tobaski that’s all people were talking about. Tobaski is a Muslim holiday that is very big in the Gambia. Shops and schools were closed over the weekend until Tuesday 8th November.
On Monday 7th November our work began. We were picked up by Pastor Andrew and Brother Lawrence at around 10.30am and taken to the house of Martin and Rebecca Boakarie the lovely hosts of our stationery shipment. For the next four hours Sophia, eight others and me went to work sorting the stationery into individual plastic bags ready for distribution.
We had planned the stationery distribution for Tuesday 8th November, but unfortunately because of Tobaski we had to postpone it until Wednesday 9th November.
On Wednesday 9th November at 9.45am, both Sophia and I were picked up by Pastor Francis in a pickup truck and driven straight to the Boakarie house where the stationery was being stored. It took us over 30 minutes to load the truck.
We arrived at the New Life Kanifing School at around 10.45am and the next two hours were a whirlwind of activity. We were met by the sponsorship director Sylvia Morgan and administrator James Ndomahina, both of whom were very surprised by our visit to the school.
After a few photographs were taken, we visited individual classes introducing ourselves in both English and Wolof, then gave each child from nursery to grade six their individual stationery packs.
The kids were so happy to receive the gifts - some classes sang special songs for us. Unfortunately because of Tobaski, some of the children from Kanifing School were absent, so we were also able to bless children at the Buckingham Pneuma Academy and about 50 children in the village of Darsalami and Brufut, who are part of an outreach scheme run by Pneuma Ministries.
I can truly say that I enjoyed the whole experience and am very glad that I could bring so much joy to so many children’s lives and that they brought so much joy to our lives too.
I would like to thank Pastor Emmanuel, Pastor Andrew, Pastor Francis, Pastor Robert and Brother Lawrence for all their help and hospitality in the Gambia.