26th March – evening

Time flies. Only recently I was planning my next hill-walk or pottering in the garden. Today I’ve been buying last minute necessities, meeting up with Tosh – the group leader and assembling stuff to take.

Luckily I’m up to date with all the jabs and Mr Turner was able to pass on his anti-malarial tablets, to add to the small supply I had left over from last year. I’s silly, but I always feel a twinge of guilt over the tablets: here I am, an ordinary European (unbelievably wealthy in the eyes of most Gambians) going out for a fortnight to “do good” and taking my supply of Malarone, whilst the vast majority of the locals, who live there all the year round may not even have a mosquito net for bedtime, let alone round-the-clock protection.

My brief visit to the school this morning allowed me to meet up with a handful of this year’s group, some of whom I recognised and all of whom said they recognised me. It’s always great to see young people like these wanting to do something like this. OK, it’s maybe just the sun and the adventure that appeals to them – and what’s wrong with that – but all of them come back changed. Maybe not forever, but they’ll probably stop leaving the lights on for a week or two and will appreciate their home comforts. Call me an old sentimental, but I think a lot of an experience like this sticks and , while it might be hidden for a while, it informs views and beliefs for years to come.

End of sermon: goodnight

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