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Travel report

Gambiatravel 14.01.2024 – 28.01.2024

On January 14, 2024, an 11-person group departed from Moormerland for a 15-day trip to Gambia. Four participants embarked on the long journey for the first time. The journey began at 0:30 a.m., with two rental vehicles transporting the group to Schiphol Airport. The flight took off at 7:00 a.m., and by 1:30 p.m., the plane landed punctually at Yundum/Banjul Airport. The travelers were initially greeted by a sunny sky and warmth (36°C) unfamiliar to them in Germany. After completing formalities, they were awaited by a delegation from the Sukuta Upper Basic and Senior Secondary School (SUBSSS) (teachers and students). Here, the group had their first encounter with the new head of SUBSSS, Mr. Modou Dem.

Mr. Dem had assumed the school leadership from Mrs. Haddy Sosseh-Saddy in September 2023, whom the group had known for many years. Thus, he was unfamiliar to anyone in the group. Naturally, our longtime chauffeur Pa Modou Joof and his sons Lamin and Usman were also present, safely escorting the weary travelers to the Bungalow Beach Hotel (BB), our base in Kotu.

At the BB, the group met Joachim and Helga, who had arrived a week earlier but had to depart a week sooner. After settling into their rooms and exchanging currency, the day concluded with a communal dinner at the Captain's Table restaurant.

Due to the tiring journey, the first day started a bit later with a fantastic view of the Atlantic from the balcony on the first floor. After breakfast, the obligatory joint grocery shopping took place, followed by an afternoon of planning the rest of the stay with Pa Modou. Apart from official visits and discussions with the school and the School Management Committee (SMC), the aim of the trip was to provide participants with a deeper insight into the country, its people, their way of life, culture, etc.

The second day was dedicated to SUBSSS. During the official welcome, there was an opportunity to get to know Mr. Dem better and engage in a lengthy conversation with him. This was followed by an extensive tour of the school, which was a special experience for those attending for the first time, as it demonstrated what FSM had achieved since 1988.

On the third day, a visit to a friendly African family in Brikama was on the agenda. During the stay at Sibi-Kunda, the name of the compound, the group gained insight into the typical life of an African family, asked questions, exchanged experiences, and had the opportunity to see everything, which was quite special.

As a special surprise arranged by the trip planners through the hosts, an African group was organized to present music and dance in the style of the Mandinka, the largest ethnic group. It was a highlight that made time fly by.

While the group members rested a bit, Alfred and Joachim had an extensive conversation with Ansumana Touray. Ansumana had worked in Germany for 20 years and successfully completed a four-year training program in Kassel during that time. He returned to Gambia and founded two companies specializing in solar technology. Our goal to enlist him as a solar expert and a common contact for our solar energy plans for SUBSSS was successful.

In another intense discussion with Mr. Dem, school representatives, and the SMC, Alfred and Joachim discussed the benefits of cooperation and managed to gain everyone's support for future close collaboration. As a result, Ansumana would initially maintain the solar system of the library. Additionally, he proposed interesting offers for the necessary retrofitting of the existing solar system in the library and the installation of new systems.

After finalizing the contractual arrangements, further projects with him are planned, such as a solar-powered pumping system for the freshwater well, ensuring energy for the Assembly Hall for lighting and ventilation, etc. Moreover, Alfred and Joachim took the opportunity to inform the representatives of SUBSSS and the SMC in detail about the conditions and requirements for future cooperation.

In addition to the aforementioned visit to the African family in Brikama, a visit to Paradise Beach, a beautiful stretch of beach, was on the agenda. On the way back, there was time to visit "Mama Africa," an art and cultural center that provides an impressive insight into the African art scene.

The visit to the fish market in the fishing village of Tanji provided insight into life by the sea and livelihoods based on fishing. The market was bustling with activity and distinctive fish market smells. Definitely worth a visit!

Another experience was the MAKASUTU National Forest, covering over 400 hectares, which two Englishmen bought from the Mandinka in 1960 and declared a national park in 1964. The entire area is characterized by endemic trees and medicinal plants, which still play a significant role in local traditional medicine. In addition to insects and birds, around 400 wild monkeys inhabit the area in several family groups.

We were fortunate that several monkey families crossed our guided path. They paid us no attention, signaling through their disinterest that they were the natural inhabitants, while we were merely visitors. Also, the visit to the KACHIKALLY Crocodile Pool in Bakau was always fascinating and educational. It is one of three sacred crocodile pools in Gambia. Visitors are initially guided through several museum-like buildings in the cult site, providing interesting insights into the country's history, cultural customs, colonial period, etc.

Countless objects create a magnificent picture. And then there's the pool with about 100 crocodiles, which can be petted under the supervision of staff. Allegedly, no person has ever been injured by one of the crocodiles, which have been allowed to breed freely here for several hundred years. Is it true?

The penultimate day of the trip was once again dedicated to the school. At the request of the University of Emden/Leer, a visit to the Sukuta Lower Basic School took place. There, with the help of the university, a solar system was also installed, and a computer lab was set up.

To bid farewell to SUBSSS, the group was greeted in the Assembly Hall by Mr. Dem and Deputy Mr. Jambang, along with numerous students. The guests were seated on stage, with the many gifts they had brought clearly visible to all. These gifts consisted of locally purchased consumables such as white and colored chalk, paper, pencils, colored pencils, sharpeners, pens, markers, staplers, etc. The group had voluntarily donated a significant amount of money for this purpose. To set the mood, the Gambian national anthem was sung by the students. Fortunately, the travel group had practiced the German national anthem at the hotel the day before, so it could also be performed.

In their speeches, Mr. Dem and Mr. Jambang thanked FSM for over 35 years of intense assistance and expressed their desire for further partnership with FSM. In his response, Alfred also referred to what had been achieved together so far. He made it clear that FSM is also interested in a close, cooperative, and partnership-based collaboration, and together, they can achieve even more. While not all wishes could be fulfilled at once, many could be realized step by step. The children enthusiastically performed "If you're happy and you know it...", a song that the FSM chairman, Holger Schneider, had often sung in past decades.

Before returning to the BB, the travel group responded with the FSM "anthem" 'From Germany from far away, we come to Sukuta', which had been rehearsed wisely at the hotel as well.

Thus ended unforgettable days in Gambia, filled with numerous sightseeing trips and visits.

The trip was rounded off by invitations from Mr. Dem to his private house in Gunjur, a small town on the Atlantic, and from Pa Modou. Both visits offered the opportunity to get to know the families' lives and participate in them to some extent.

All in all, it was an interesting, varied, but also very exhausting journey. Especially the weather made the last few days difficult – 36°C and Harmattan, the sand wind from the Sahara. The impressions and experiences will be remembered for a long time, and the small longing for Africa will continue to nourish.

Bye bye, Gambia. Thank you for a wonderful time!

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Vertreter der SUSSS begrüßen die Gäste aus Moormerland

Blick vom Balkon der Bungalow Beach Hotels auf den Atlantik

Begrüßung im Büro des neuen Schulleiters Mr, Dem.

Unterrichtsbesuch in einer Klasse in einem von der Regierung gebauten Gebäude.

Na, wohin geht's heute? Zum Paradise Beach?

Oder geht's zum Fischerdorf Tanji?

Gambiareise 26.22. – 10.12.2022
Ein Reisebericht mit ganz persönlichen Eindrücken

The preparation

We already booked the trip for 11 participants with the Poot travel agency in Emmerich in July 2022. A week before the originally planned travel date (14.-26.11.22) the trip was announced without informationcanceled by the tour operator TUINederland for reasons, no new date offered. Only through the strong commitment of our travel agency was the organizer given us a new date: 26.11. – 10.12.22.

In the end, 10 participants were able to attend this appointment.  A big thank you goes to our "travel marshal" Joachim Killian, who always kept a cool head until the end and was able to solve all problems in good time.


Our stay in The Gambia

The Bungalow Beach Hotel (BB) has been our hotel during our trips to The Gambia for years.

Since 2019, a lot of money has been put into renovating the hotel rooms: the kitchen cookers have been equipped with ceramic hobs, the living area received a TV and new furniture, and the showers have been redesigned. During our stay, the A block was renovated. Nevertheless, there were shortcomings here and there.

A travel participant wrote: "The Bungalow Beach complex is no longer the newest, so in many places important details did not work for us (e.g. windows)... Otherwise, the staff was very accommodating and tried to fulfil all wishes. I found the location of the resort very nice, it was quiet .... and it is right by the sea."

The low occupancy rate of the hotels in The Gambia is alarming; only three hotels were very well occupied over the Christmas days, all the others are more or less fighting for their existence and are now hoping for better occupancy in the coming months, including our Bungalow Beach Hotel. Besides our group, there were only a small number of English and Scandinavian guests there, most of the flats were not occupied.


After a quiet flight, we reached Yundum International Airport on 26.11.22 a little earlier than expected. The passport and health checks took longer than usual this time. In the arrival hall, our friend Pa Modou was already waiting for us. In the car park, a delegation from the school with Mrs. Sosseh-Saidy, other teachers, students and a drum group welcomed us with singing and dancing. Together we then drove to the BB, where we continued the welcome with singing and dancing.


On Monday, 28.11.22, our travel group was welcomed with great happiness by the staff and many students in the Assembly Hall of our partner school. During a first tour we were able to take a look at the new library, the solar system and the classrooms built by the government. ,

The following days included trips to the surrounding area (Paradise Beach with Mama Africa,

Brikama with Lamin Lodge, Banjul, Juffure with Kunta Kinte Island). Holger and Joachim took the opportunity to talk to the school management and members of the SMC about current and future projects.


In an emotional ceremony in the Assembly Hall on 03.12.22 with lots of music and dance, speeches by our Chairman, the Headmistress Mrs. Sosseh-Saidy, the SMC Chairman Saikou Fatty, the representative of the regional education authority and the head boy of the school and greetings from the Mayor of the Municipality of Moormerland and our Project Manager School Library Dr. Anna Stelthove-Fend, the library was handed over from the Circle of Friends Sukuta-Moormerland Ass. to its partner school.

After the headmistress and the chairman had cut the golden ribbon before entering the school library, there was great happiness in the library. The ceremony of handing over the library ended with a joint lunch of the guests of honour.


On 08.12.22 we were again given a small farewell ceremony in the Assembly Hall by the school management, members of the college, SMC members and students. As we said goodbye to our group, we had to realise what it means when there are no fans working and no lights due to a power cut. It was very warm and dark in the Assembly Hall.

Based on this experience, the Board decided on 12.12.2022 to also equip the Assembly Hall with a solar system.


On 10.12.2022 we flew back home. For many of us, the drop in temperature of 35° within a few hours on arrival at Schiphol was too much, so that we had to fight colds in the following days.

Shadow on Concrete Wall

A travelogue by HK

“Our last visit to Sukuta Upper Basic and Senior Secondary School was in March 2019. It's finally that time again! On November 27th, 2022 we will fly again with a tour group to The Gambia to visit our partner school in Sukuta. What will await us there? How do we deal with each other after 3 years of Corona? The library was also built and completed at this time. This is now to be officially inaugurated with us in a festive setting.


After 6 hours flight we arrive at the airport in Banjul. It's about 30 degrees warm, we're tired. Our driver and friend Pamoudo is there with his son Lamin. The joy is huge to see each other again, once firmly squeeze, joy over joy. Then another surprise for us: we hear drums, whistle, singing. An aging Bulli with about 20 students and a teacher from our partner school come to greet us. Likewise the school director Haddy Sosseh, as well as the chairman Saikou Fatty. There is dancing and singing at the airport. It's just incredibly nice to be back. It's like 3.5 years haven't passed.

The smell of Africa is back. This special mixture of dust, the smell of diesel, warmth and the way people live. Difficult to understand for people who have never experienced it.

In the following 2 weeks there were repeated trips to the country and to school. Future projects, such as the continuation of the solar expansion, were discussed here. Likewise, what is urgently needed for the basic equipment of the school.

The inauguration ceremony with many speeches, music and dance interludes, as well as a play about the history of Africa was very impressive for us.

Which thoughts fly back home with you? It is a wonderful feeling to be a guest in a country whose people, despite many economic difficulties, radiate a lot of cordiality and warmth and we just met.”



Shadow on Concrete Wall

A travelogue by HL

“Since we were traveling to Amsterdam Airport from different parts of Germany, a meeting point and the wearing of green caps was agreed. The newcomers like us didn't have green caps, but could easily find fellow travelers by their green caps. These caps were very helpful in the hustle and bustle of both airports. Arrived and loaded the luggage onto Pamodou's car, we were greeted with singing and dancing by the students from Sukuta. Members of the school administration welcomed us. For us newcomers, the first adventurous ride on Gambia's roads began, with stop and go and lots of potholes and clouds of dust....

I found the change between free time and joint activity very successful. It was a change between new experiences and relaxation. The dates at school were well prepared, interesting and just the right number. We were able to collect a lot of knowledge about the club in connection with the school and the school itself and its theory - which was very important to us - and was 100% fulfilled..."



Shadow on Concrete Wall

A travelogue by IK

"It was such an incredible time for me and I'm so thankful to have been a part of it - what lasting memories, true treasures! I found the trip, the community in the group, fantastic and I got such great impressions and insights, through the excursions I got to know a lot more about the country - all of which makes me very happy.
The encounters with the students, teachers, the people in general, the experiences, getting to know such a different country - everything simply fascinated me and made me think about it at one point or another. Well, and I was very close to the people myself and was able to make great contacts and get to know "real life". I started this journey with zero expectations and the time there was beyond everything. I would like to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for letting me travel with you and experience the adventure! I am sure that I will definitely be there again on the next trip.”




A few impressions of the last trip

Video of the trip 2022

We are a committed association that regularly travels to The Gambia to support the local school and to get to know the local culture. Our group tours offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in authentic local life while also helping the people of The Gambia. The Gambia trips also offer great excursions, acquaintances and a wonderful landscape.

After a necessary break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were finally able to return to The Gambia in December 2022. This reunion with the land and its people was a significant moment for all of us, which we would like to share with you. 

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