Life Award 2013
22nd January 2014
The travel into Banjul was surprisingly un-modernised with street sellers on most corners and lots of security visible.
We are met at the offices of the Honorable Minister for Health and each introduced to him and his Principal Private Secretary. They expressed their gratitude for everything BPEC are doing and were interested in all that could be recommended for further improvements at the hospital.
The journey to Bansang was long through beautiful country and many small villages.
Just short of Bansang the we are met by a group of motorbikes and a minibus with musicians. They led us into Bansang sounding their horns, playing music and singing with the towns people lining the road shouting and waving.
When we arrive at the hospital the road is jammed with people singing and dancing. The staff from the hospital are all lined up to greet us and every single one shakes our hand and welcomes us and thanks us for coming.
The town’s people all joined in the hand shaking, with small children pushing in-between the adults to shake hands or bump fists with us.
We walk into the hospital grounds in the middle of the crowd and are led to seats of honour for a welcome ceremony. The musicians continue to play and the locals and staff dance and pull each of us to join in.
Eventually the crowd is quietened and the CEO of the hospital Baba Jeng tells everyone that at Bansang Hospital they are a family and that myself (Dave), Mark and Watson are all welcomed into the Bansang Family.
Watson Carlill addressed the crowd and thanked them for the welcome and explained that we are very pleased to be a part of the family. Mark Antrobus then thanked everyone for the magnificent welcome, that was better than any he had received in the world!
Paul and Vanessa Myers then also thanked everyone for asking them to join the Bansang Family.
We were treated to a ‘Circumcision Rites’ dance, after which we were allowed to go to our accommodation for the next 5 nights. It sits right on the bank of the Gambia River just down stream from the ferry.
Mr Fatti and his wife Bintou welcome us to their hotel and offer cold beer which was most welcome! We are shown to our rooms with much gesturing and pidgin French, pidgin English and Franglais.
Mr Fatti lived in Paris for 40 years and speaks fluent French but not as much English and we know lots of English and not much French!
The rooms consisted of a bedroom with a mosquito net over the bed, a washroom with basin and toilet with WC with shower above. All facilities have ‘cold and cold’ running water.
Hot water seems to be an unknown quantity here unless it is for coffee or tea, ‘cofé’ or ‘thé’ as it is in Paradise!
Back to the hospital after showers and dinner was served in the board room (CEO Baba Jeng’s office) and consisted of freshly killed lamb, salads, chips and onions in gravy – very tasty and unexpected.
Today has been an extremely moving experience but tomorrow morning we come back down to reality.