We’re pleased to be supporting a worthwhile and exciting expedition by 14 year old Explorer Scout Connor Howieson, who headed off to the Gambia earlier this year to help improve the quality of life and educational opportunities for young people in a tribal village.
His trip is part of a mission organised by Cambridgeshire Scout Expeditions and he travelled with 19 other Scouts from across the country.
This is the blog of Connor's trip...
"When we arrived the project building was almost a ruin (as you can see by the photo). The first work we had to do on it was removing most of the walls, we left some depending on the condition of them. To remove the walls we just used hammers and chisels to knock the bricks out I enjoyed the destruction :D. We then made more bricks with cement and started building and rebuilding walls.
Once all the walls were built and plastered we painted the outside and then started the interior painting. The colours we used to [paint the walls were very random because they were just left over colours from the explorer leaders house!! For the roof we built a wooden structure and then put corrugated sheets over it. We also had a interior roof made out of wood. When the building was finally done we had a big handover ceremony and put flags up etc...
The people that we met over in The Gambia were absolutely amazing. They were always so happy and encouraging and their most commonly used phrase I would say was, "can I help you". Each of the three teams had a Gambian explorer scout as a leader and all the scouts were always so helping and friendly that they made us feel right at home.
The food that we had was erm...different. We basically just had whatever we could get from the market in Soma which was the closest market to camp. We mainly had beef and pasta/rice and a slightly different sauce depending on the vegetables available. The best meals that we had were the ones that the Gambians made us which were always rice (which was flavoured and tasted so good) and roasted chicken or beef.
For three days each group got a chance to do on a walkabout this entailed going wherever you wanted on a budget and in the time limit. Our group elected to go up country and visit Janjangboureh (Georgetown). When we were there we went and visited the slave houses which were pretty sick but we learnt a lot and I would definitely recommend anyone to have a visit. After the slave house we went on a six hour boat trip. On the trip we saw loads of monkeys, crocodiles and we saw a group of 15 hippos out of the water which is the most that the guys that take the boat tours had seen in ten years!! :-)
When we first arrived we were all so taken a back a bit by the country in general, I don't think any of us realized how poor the people were and how hard life is on them. I definitely think anyone that is considering going to just go because after you have been once you will want to keep going back. However I would recommend if you do go not to stay in the touristy parts because they give you a different view and when you go up country you see what it is really all about.
Thanks again for your sponsorship it helped me have this once in a lifetime experience.
Connor Howieson. :D