A Mixed Year for the Link
2017 has seen mixed fortunes for the Yate - Genieri Link. The year began well with the peaceful resolution of the crisis caused by the handover of power from the previous leader, President Jammeh, to the newly elected President Adama Barrow. In Genieri, rapid progress was also being made in preparing and fencing the new vegetable gardens with funding from the Yate – Genieri Link. Then came the welcome news that a Turkish charity had chosen Genieri, through liaising with the local council in Mansakonko, to be the recipient of funding for a solar-powered bore hole for the gardens, thus providing a much easier and reliable source of water instead of the usual hand wells. Visitors from Yate who stayed in the village in March, Marian Lewis, Toni Farrington, Richard Gilpin and Pete McNaughton were able to see for themselves just how many people from the village were involved in the work of clearing the land and laying out the beds. Sulayman Sanneh, the Garden Manager, completed his Agriculture course at The Gambia College (funded by the Link) and returned to the village in July to help organise the many people involved. The gardens quickly became established and vegetables such as okra, sorrel, onions, lettuce, tomatoes and peppers were planted and harvested.
In November, the village also received the funding promised by a school in the UK, which visited the village last year. This funding was for a fishing boat for the village to use to catch fish in
the nearby river and sell in the village and in local markets.
At the same time the Link has also received updates on other projects from another friend of the village who lives in the UK – Jimmy Houston, who lives in Falkirk and was in the village at the beginning of December. The Link and Jimmy work increasingly closely to co-ordinate support for Genieri: Jimmy and the supporters of his charity, Genieri Collections, now provide funds for a nutritious rice-based meal for every child attending the village Day Care Centre every day of the year, not just in term-time. The Yate Link, over the years, has provided some funds for this purpose but the Genieri Collections enables the Yate Link to concentrate on raising funds for the six village salaries we are responsible for and the sponsorship of 35 children to help them attend Kaiaf School. Jimmy has reported:
“The village looks a little more prosperous than during our previous visit in January of 2016, with sight of much more livestock and a better level of clothing on the children. The goat
population has exploded, closely followed by donkeys. There are many fewer sights of food stress, although this has not been eliminated entirely. Chickens and their young abound. Additionally the Day
Care Centre now seems profoundly better supplied with teaching consumables, such as simple paper and pencils/crayons. This is complete and welcome contrast to just less than 2 years ago, when every
child was given a pencil, rubber and sharpener – and were seen clutching them very protectively and with great delight.
These aspects are getting better, a lot better.”
However, Jimmy Houston also reported the new solar-powered pump in the vegetable gardens is no longer working. The village has received a quotation for repairs that will cost several hundred pounds. The village has asked for help from the local council but it turns out that it is now the responsibility of the village to maintain the pump and to pay for any repairs when it breaks down. Genieri is not a rich village and the gardens had only just started to produce a very small cash crop. This will be very difficult. And while there is no source of water in the gardens, the women can’t plant their new crops and the weeds are gradually taking over.
Many of the solar-powered lights provided by the Link with funding from Yate and District Rotary are no longer working: with only one light per compound they have been used as portable lights with more breakages than anticipated. Very few compounds have been able to maintain their monthly payments so there are not yet the funds to buy replacement lights
The Yate – Link is now working through Foday Dampha, the Day Care Centre Headteacher who co-ordinates the Link’s projects in Genieri to resolve some of these problems. Simply providing more funding is not a long-term solution: as the village acquires more machinery and new technology, such as the solar – powered pump, the computer in the Day care Centre, the solar lights in each compound, the satellite dish and television also in the Day Care Centre, they will need ways of pooling resources themselves to ensure these things on which they quickly become dependent are sustainably maintained.
Finally though, in spite of all these difficulties, the Yate Genieri Link has continued to work with the community of Genieri for over 30 years now and thanks are due to everyone who supports the Link each year.
OPEN GARDEN DAYS
This year’s Open garden on the first weekend of July, also hosted by Margaret and Graham Newman at Ram Hill, benefitted from two of the best days of the summer weatherwise. The combination of wonderful gardens, a popular plant sale, cream teas and live music performed by pianists and singers throughout both days, notably by the Chipping Sodbury and Yate Community Choirs conducted by Liz Martin ensured that visitors had an enjoyable afternoon and over £1,400 was raised for projects in the village.
So , again, a very big thank you to everyone who attended, as well as to the small army of helpers who put up marquees, set out tables and chairs, directed cars, served teas, donated plants, did the washing up, took down marquees, etc, etc . . .
The 100 Club yields a eleven monthly bonuses to winning subscribers. By contributing £10 at the beginning of the year their names are entered in the draw.
Of the funds raise over half must be alloted to the Charity the remainder being available as prizes.
Marian Lewis £30
Jean White £10
Edwina Truelove £5
Susan Scantleury £50
John Flannery £25
Eloise Hunt £5