On Monday, the school teacher Merry didn’t show up. I gave my best shot at teaching the school kids. Thankfully, a mother was present to keep discipline. I had the kids draw the letters “S”, “C”, and “Q”, since it was clear during my first trip to Gambia that the kids had no experience actually drawing on paper. Later we visited Merry who lives in the neighboring town of Kassagne — she was pretty sick. We also delivered the books to primary school.
Tuesday was painting day. It was nice to see the women under the mango tree. Painting was men’s work, apparently. The school has the usual two classrooms with an office in the middle, and also a separate building used for a kitchen, where the children get fed during recess from food harvested from crops grown on the school grounds. The town all gets in on the planting and harvesting of these crops. We cleaned and prepped the walls, including some charcoal-drawn pictures. Too bad, they were the only drawings by kids that I’d seen. After a few hours, the school was all painted. A young man came by, said he was an artist and could paint “A is for apple”-type drawings and “Jakoi Bintang Nursery School” in front. We hired him. I later received photos about his finished work, beautifully surreal. In the front of the school: “This is an ear” (with a picture of an ear).
The women of the town had wanted to speak with me about something. This afternoon, they told me what it was. They wanted a loan for a tie dye business. They had done it years before, but they needed a loan to make it work. I was beaming. This is just the idea I had had on the first trip: a place in Gambia where tourists could go and take drum classes or tie dye classes. Now we had it, just like that!