Africa Update and Baby Stevie

Mikael has spent the last few months cultivating his groundnut farm otherwise known as peanuts.   Just before the start of the rains, usually around June, Mikael like all other farmers in The Gambia, will clear their fields using what’s called the ‘slash and burn’ method, afterwards they brush their fields, hopefully in time for the first rainfall.  As soon as the rains start the land is ploughed and the seed-nuts are sown.

The rainy season is coming to an end and during this time Mikael will be harvesting his crop. The plants  are uprooted and laid on raised platforms to dry out. Once dried out the plant is thrashed to release the nuts. They are then sorted through a  spinning colander which has rotating cylinders with holes in or meshed panniers. The nuts are then weighed, graded and transported to various collection points around The Gambia.

The local name for peanuts is gerte. Swadou, Mikael’s wife will take the groundnuts to the food market where they are sold wholesale in little bags. The nuts are offered in a variety of styles, including roasted, salted, sugar-coated, and sometimes boiled. They are also sold in small tomato pot sizes for about 5.00 dalasi per pot. The shells from Mikael’s groundnuts are used as fertilizer on his farm.

Baby Stevie is doing really well and growing so fast, he will go to market with Swadou wrapped in a ‘Khanga’ which is a shortish piece of cloth tied around the torso, so the baby sits low on the back.  Being carried this way is quite safe and for much of his young life this is how he will be carried.


Baby Steve

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Mellor Country House – Ladies Evening

Calling all you lovely ladies! Do you fancy an evening in a lovely setting where you can bring your own drinks and have some fun with your girlfriends? Then look no further than on Tuesday 24th October 2017 at 7pm, Mellor Country House invite you to a Ladies Supper in aid of the charity.

On arrival, you will be given a warm welcome and a complimentary glass of wine. During the evening there will be a demonstration from the Clarins ladies of John Lewis, Cheadle. You can place an order or purchase on the night from the beautiful array of creams, lotions and potions and make up on display.

Afterwards enjoy a supper of chilli and rice, vegetarians too, followed by dessert which will be a surprise. There will also be a quiz with small prizes and all the while you can drink your own drinks which you have brought with you whatever they may be. A raffle will be held with fabulous gifts from Clarins and other good prizes, everything you could wish for from an evening, is not to be missed.

Contact Mags at Mellor Country House, 299 Longhurst Ln, Mellor, Stockport SK6 5PP. Tel: 0161 427 1893



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Christening for Baby Steve

Mikael and  Swadou held the christening for their new baby boy two weeks after he was born.  Guess what they called him, Steve after our very own!  The whole village get involved with the preparation of the christening, Swadou’s family prepare the vegetables and food and Mikael made a red sauce called Benachin which is eaten with rice.  He also provided the whole village with a lamb which is stewed in a cooking pot over hot coals.  After the christening it is tradition that everyone from the village gets to hold the baby.  Its also customary to have a drink called ‘Attaya’ ingredients of which are; water, loose gunpowder green tea leaves and sugar.  It is boiled in a pot over charcoal and once it is ready the tea is poured into a small drinking glass from a height of about half a meter. This creates the desired foam and is repeated for about 10 minutes until a good foam head forms in the glasses. Then, it’s back into the kettle and back onto the coals to heat up once again.

IMG-20170511-WA0001    IMG-20170511-WA0006

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Charity of the Year 2017-2018

We are pleased to announce that our ‘Charity of the Year’ 2017/2018 is Mellor Country House.

Built in 1907,set in three acres of garden and woodland located in the pretty village of Mellor, situated on the border between Greater Manchester and the High Peak . The charity is dedicated to providing respite breaks for groups, families, carers and individuals primarily from the nearby urban areas who could not, otherwise, have a break at all.

The Charity’s aim is to provide a safe, secure, relaxing and uplifting environment for the financially and socially disadvantaged. For many of the people who stay at the house, this break from the hardships of their day-to-day existence can, literally, be a life-saver.

Accommodation for up to 24 guests is provided in 11 bedrooms on a self-catering basis with a well equipped kitchen, dining room, restful lounges and children’s playroom. Outside, the grounds include a secure play area for toddlers, a bike track for the older children, a paved patio with barbeque, a private lawn area with benches and seating for quiet reflection.

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Congratulations to our Friends in Africa

Mikael and Swadou have had a boy, weighing in at 7lbs 4 oz and guess what, he’s been named after our very own Steve!!  More news to follow…

Baby Steven

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Fashion Show – Humane Education Society (HES)

The HES are holding a fashion show on the 18th May at Gorsey Bank school to raise much needed funds for the animals at the sanctuary. Many are abandoned, ill or neglected and this is their final home. Others are lucky to be at HES on a temporary basis until a forever home can be found.

Their vet bills are high as they neuter, vaccinate, microchip and treat every animal they take in. There will be a raffle and an auction, so if you ladies fancy a good girlie night out get your tickets now before they run out and help us support this worthwhile cause!

The event starts at 7.30pm with the show at 8pm for approximately 1 hour. With the raffle and auction, the event should finish around 10pm.

Tickets are £5 each with a glass of fizz and can be purchased from Gorsey Bank School or the Sanctuary on 01625 520 802. You can also email:

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African Links

Senegal Clothes

Having spoken with Mikael just before Christmas, he tells us that the tourist season has not been good this year which has resulted in being unable to continue, at present, with his juice bar.  Not only that, the cost of the fruit and food in general has risen substantially and running the juice bar was just proving unprofitable to continue.  However, on a positive note, he is looking into a new business venture, travelling over the border to Senegal.

In Dakar, Senegal –  Secondhand T-shirts, shorts, jeans and dresses are piled high for blocks along the busy streets in Dakar’s Colobane neighborhood, where people buy donated European and American fashions at a fraction of their original price.

Most of the secondhand clothing arrives in gigantic bundles from France, Italy, the U.S. and the U.K. They are sold by the organisations/charities in those countries that receive donations and are sorted before they reach Africa.

Mikael will pick through piles of shorts, t.shirts, trainers etc,  setting aside only those he thinks will bring the most profit when he takes them back over the border to re-sell in his village.

“It will allow me and my family to eat,” he said. “Life is very hard and it’s a new way of making money.”   He’ll l buy cotton shorts for 200 CFA (£0.27) and sell them for 300 CFA (£0.40).



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Humane Education Society/Animal Sanctuary Wilmslow

Thank you to everyone for the Christmas donations of food for the Animal Sanctuary.  We had every good intention of dropping it off in Wilmslow prior to Christmas, however, due to the office being extremely busy and the added bout of coughs, colds and flu hitting the office, we were unable to do so.  We’re hoping to get the items over to them before the end of this month.  Judging from the photo from the Animal Sanctuary, the animals didn’t go hungry this Christmas.


Animal Sanctuary

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Sponsored Dog Walk Raised £75 for the Humane Education Society

WP_20161016_005 (640x360)
The heavens opened as we set off,
what could be said, it was wet, wet, wet
Blue sky appeared glory be,
dogs are a sniffing around the tree
Waterproofs off, sun on your face,
walking around a beautiful place
Rustling through leaves and walking dogs,
Roxy is heading straight for the bogs
Half way round we come to rest,
delicious cream tea, it was the best
Onwards and upwards, the last 3 miles,
through woodland, copses and over the stiles
Back where we started, we’ve reached the end,
6 miles covered with our faithful friend
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African Links

Congratulations to Mr and Mrs Kujabi on their recent marriage.  Following a three week delay, Mikael finally tied the knot on Sunday 31st July.  In Africa, the bride’s family have the power over the date they will allow their daughters to marry.  The original date of 17th July was postponed as the bride’s family didn’t feel that the day favoured them.  This went on for a further two weeks and only added to the anticipation and nervousness, being only natural, for Mikael.

We are hoping that very soon we will be hearing the news of the patter of tiny feet, so watch this space.

In the meantime, temperatures are slowly starting to climb with an average maximum of 31°C. Humidity remains high with short showers interspersing the sunshine and the sea water is beautifully warm. During the past couple of months, whilst its been the rainy season the villagers have been actively cleaning the streets to ensure the removal of waste that litter the environment, and ensuring that children stay indoors when it is raining. During the rainy period, there are fewer calories around (these are known as the Hungry Months) but, thanks to the rain, there are a lot more leafy green vegetables to eat.

As the dry season is now approaching the Gambia people will have plenty of couscous and rice to eat, and these grains form the major part of their diet.

There are many taboos and superstitions in Gambia, here are a few we’ve picked out:-

  • If a person dreams of raw fish or a snake, it is a sure sign of pregnancy
  • It is taboo to sell items like soap, needles and charcoal at night and it is also forbidden to whistle after dark as all these things bring bad luck
  • Gambians living in rural areas regard owls with superstitious dread, believing they are transformed local wizards and witches.
    Mikael is preparing to leave the village over the course of the next few weeks to go back into the tourist areas and all being well he can start up the juice bar business again.  His wife, Mariama will stay in the village and look after his Mother and Mikael’s younger siblings.  Even though this is the time that Mikael can make some money, it still is not enough to both feed, clothe and keep a roof over his and his family’s heads.  Mikael has to rent a room in the tourist resorts, which don’t come cheap, as well as buying essentials like rice for him and his family.
Mikael and his Wife
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