What’s next after GOLD?

It seems hard to believe but 6 months have passed since we came home from The Gambia. Our (slight) suntans might have faded but we haven’t forgotten our time in the country and have been busy telling everyone about our trip. This ranges from casual conversations to more formal talks and written reports/articles. Emma was even interviewed for local radio!

We all got together again for a debrief weekend in December with the GOLD teams who travelled to Sri Lanka and Latvia. It was lovely to see each other and exchange stories with other GOLD 2014 teams. It was also a good opportunity to evaluate the projects and think about our next challenges in guiding.

We were delighted to hear that the GOLD project in The Gambia will continue for two more years. Excitingly, Kat is going to be returning to The Gambia as the leader of the 2015 team! We are all looking forward to hearing about how they get on and you can also follow their progress by reading their blog, facebook page, or following them on twitter (@GOLDGAMBIA2015).

Since GOLD 2014:

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Charlotte has been working towards the Queen’s Guide Award. She helped to run a Division fun day called ‘Healthy and Happy’, where she ran relaxation sessions and fruit tasting for Rainbows, Brownies and Guides. She is currently learning Spanish and intends to practice her new language skills on her holidays to Madrid and Barcelona this year!


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Emma has become a trustee for Girlguiding Scotland. She has also become the ‘Girls Coordinator’ for Girlguiding Scotland – a new programme running international service projects for girls aged 14-16 years (a bit like GOLD). She will be leading the first trip with 10 girls going to Mexico in 2016! In February she moved to London for six months, but she already has a new job lined up for when she returns to Scotland in the summer.


IMG_8664Alongside preparations for GOLD 2015, Kat has been getting involved in some local guiding activities. She organized an event to celebrate World Thinking Day for her local Guiding District using ideas from our GOLD training sessions (but couldn’t attend the event because she was at a GOLD 2015 briefing weekend!). She has also been head hunted by her Division Commissioner, who said “I believe you are outdoorsy[…]can you read a map?”. Outside of Guiding she also working towards her dinghy senior instructor and climbing wall award qualifications…


DSCF0715Louise is planning to go on no less than 5 Brownie Pack Holidays and one guide camp this year! She is working on her Holiday Licence, which would allow her to run Brownie Pack Holidays for her unit in future. She also produces the newsletter for her local Guiding County (Central Glamorgan). When she isn’t busy with all those Guiding activities she is learning to drive so if take care if you are on the roads in the Welsh Valleys!


IMG_9243Sarah B has become Division Commissioner for Wansdyke Division, which is part of Somerset North County in the South West of England, looking after 6 Districts. She is also planning her wedding for this September and starting to look for a new house – “I thought this year was going to be quiet after GOLD last year but doesn’t look like it’s going to be!”


IMG_8766Sarah S also planned to have a quiet year, but instead she landed up performing in a small local pantomime and is moving house (this week)… She has been getting more involved in local guiding events including helping at residential weekends for older guides who are working on their Baden Powell Award. She has recently returned from an Australian-themed Brownie Holiday in an old wind mill on the Norfolk coast (some imagination required!).

Although our geographical locations around the country and busy schedules make it difficult for us to meet up, we are still in regular contact and are planning to have a reunion later this year.

We would like to thank everyone who has supported us on our GOLD journey, including:

  • GOLD co-ordinator Anna Bourne
  • Carly Walker-Dawson from Girlguiding CHQ
  • The individuals and organizations who have donated money through grants, buying cakes, badges and all our other fundraising efforts.
  • The Gambians who made us feel so welcome while on project.

And, last but not least, thank you for reading.

Team GOLD The Gambia 2014

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Arrival Home

I feel we may have left our readers on a bit of a cliff hanger after our last blog post. We must put this down the excitement of arriving back in the UK and adjusting to post project life. Debrief with the Executive Committee of The Gambian Girl Guides Association went well. We had quite a long discussion about what we thought the project aims were and what they thought they were. They seemed pleased with the training sessions we had run and asked for our opinion on what sort of trainings we could provide to help develop their organisation further. Needless to say we were feeling inspired and were teeming with ideas. A very positive way to end the trip.

Post project life took a little getting used to. I personally woke up one afternoon having fallen asleep on the sofa wearing skinny jeans and a hoody, in a slight panic, feeling claustrophobic…until I realised that it was just because I wasn’t wearing one of our project t-shirts and shorts. As the weather had been so good before we left, that was the first time I had been dressed in such a way. Minutes later I answered the door to somebody who was collecting for a charity to raise money for something in Africa. I apologised for appearing so out of it and explained that I had just come back from three weeks in Africa. The charity representative then admitted that I would know much more about Africa than he did and so wished me a good day and went on his way! Probably a wise move on his behalf before I launched in to a discussion about sustainable charity projects.

Needless to say all team members are all safely back in the UK and have been out and about talking to our respective units, divisions, districts and more. We have also just had the project debrief with the GOLD co-ordinator from Girlguiding and her team. More to come on that and the future of the project soon! In the meantime, check out our photo gallery.

Human Knot

Click on the picture to see the top 50 pictured from GOLD The Gambia 2014

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Last day of Training

Wednesday 22nd October

Today was our last day of training. Sad times but a great sense of achievement! We have trained over 100 people in the past three days, and many more in the previous weeks. The training went really well and the girls of Brikama region were lovely and all joined in even though the age range was 4-16 years old.

Crossing the river on stepping stones made of A4 paper.

Crossing the river on stepping stones made of A4 paper.

Having run lots of errands after training yesterday we took it easy today and came to the beach. The sunset tonight was lovely and it was a perfect end to the day!

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Tomorrow we have a debrief with the executive committee of GGGA. We will be discussing how the project has gone and how/if it should continue. All GOLD projects are reviewed in their third year (which this currently is) to see if the aims of the project have been achieved or if there is still work that can be done over the next 2 years. It will also be a chance for us to say a big thank you to our hosts.

GOLD Team in Gambian Guider uniform

GOLD Team in Gambian Guider uniform

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Spreading GOLD!

Sunday was a well deserved day off! We had just done 6 days of training in a row, including our excursion up country so we had a gentle day of sightseeing in Banjul, haggling in the market, and then headed to the beach for the rest of the afternoon.

Monday and Tuesday have been two days of regional trainings for Guides aged 12-16 who have been selected from their units to attend. They all turned up today looking very smart in their uniforms and they worked hard in our sessions on leadership and advocacy. Both groups started off very quiet but soon got very chatty!

Singing "Get Loose" in Lamin Lower Basic School

Singing “Get Loose” in Lamin Lower Basic School

The lovely Guides of St Peter’s lower basic school were great hosts and very welcoming today! We all got personalised cards welcoming us which we are taking back home!

The guides and brownies at St Peters made us all welcome posters

The guides and brownies at St Peters made us all welcome posters

Other exciting things that have happened recently include appearing in The Standard newspaper this morning, appearing on the 8pm and 10pm TV news on Sunday and collecting our tailor made Gambian outfits this afternoon. Our last day of training is tomorrow though… Sniff sniff!

The team dressed in our new Gambian outfits with Auntie Caddy

The team dressed in our new Gambian outfits with Auntie Caddy.

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Up Country – Kani Kunda and Karantaba

Friday 17th and Saturday 18th October Friday morning we were up at the crack of dawn to go to Soma which is about 180km east. They have another Guide Skills Centre there. Soma is not built up at all and it was really nice to see a lot more of the country.

On our first day we went to the Kani Kunda Lower Basic School (LBS). We were told that we would be training 20 Guides but as we pulled up to the school there were hundreds of people waiting for us! As usual there was a lot of singing, dancing and drums to greet us. There was also a group of ladies there who go round schools telling stories and educating through their music. When they finished it was our turn to lead the activities.

Dancing to the music of the Kanilinga ladies

Dancing to the music of the Kaniling ladies

We had about 60 Guides and Brownies who were aged about 7 – 13. We were due to finish at about 1pm but as lunch wasn’t ready, we just continued playing games and singing songs for another 2 hours! Lunch was benechin and we ate in the school grounds in the shade.

Teamwork treasure hunt in Kani Kunda Lower Basic School

Teamwork treasure hunt in Kani Kunda Lower Basic School

After lunch the singing continued but this time led by the legendary teacher Lamin. Our favourite being his rendition of the Hokey – Kokey which somewhere along the line has been misheard as “do the walkin talkin”. The teacher of the school we were going to on Saturday, Karantaba LBS, was there on Friday so we confirmed with him that there would be 20 students and we would go on till 1pm again.

Sure enough just as we started the introductions on Saturday all the people from Kani Kunda LBS turned up along with half of the village! We were better prepared for that eventuality today and managed to get some WAGGGS activities in. Not bad considering at one point we counted 150 people aged 4-16 and their English level was basic! We would like to say a special thank you to all the people at the Soma skills centre for all the delicious food they provided over the weekend!

While in Soma we went for a walk in the beautiful countryside

While in Soma we went for a walk in the beautiful countryside

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Young Leader Training Day 3

Thursday 16th October

Playing Human Rights musical chairs

Playing Human Rights musical chairs

Today was our final day with the Young Leaders at the Skills Centre. We played many new games, had a request for “Bananas of the World Unite”, sang “Singing in the Rain” without rain and most importantly, tackled advocacy. There were many heated debates during the game of human rights musical chairs and much discussion about how much it would cost to set up a well or tap in every house in a village without running water.

We also set the Young Leaders the task of planning their own sessions. There were some really great ideas that came out of today and it was really nice to see everyone working well together. There was quite a mix of ages and experiences and it was good to see everyone have a chance to express themselves.

Early tomorrow morning we are heading up country to some Guides much further inland. We have been advised that it will be much hotter inland so expect us to melt slightly… We are talking 38 Celsius!

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Young Leader Training Day 2

Wednesday 15th October

Young Leader training day two went a lot better than day one! We spent all evening yesterday going back over the trip aims and revising the plan that we had made and it paid off! We focused on leadership and got a lot of good answers and plenty of opinions out of the girls. Excited for a day of advocacy training tomorrow!

Leadership wide game with the young leaders

Leadership wide game with the young leaders

As we are mid way through the trip, here is a list of things we are missing from home:
1) Photo copier (copying the same thing out multiple times takes ages!)
2) Some of the team miss having a shower (rather than than bucket of water – Sarah S doesn’t have a proper shower in her flat in Norwich! Even Louise has one in Treorchy…)
3) The cold (this will be replaced by heat as soon as we get back)
4) not sweating all the time!
5) Fruit and veg readily available (we are an exceptionally healthy team…)
6) Chocolate (or maybe we aren’t so healthy after all…)
7) Reliable electricity and internet (hence why the blog is a day behind!)
8) It would be rude not to mention all our family and friends back at home. Don’t worry, we will soon be back to bore the pants off you with stories of “this one time, in The Gambia…”

P.S. On the way to the restaurant this evening, one of the Guide leaders drove past, then stopped to give us a bunch of bananas! Psychic!

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Young Leader training day 1

Tuesday 14th October

Today was another busy day of training. We started at 10am with 19 young leaders and by 12pm we had over 60! We had been advised that there would be 20-30 of them and we sort of assumed the amount of knowledge that they would have whilst we were planning. Everything today was not as we were expecting. Not at all!

Game of elephant football

Game of elephant football

Still, between us we have over 90 years of Guiding experience and at our briefing weekends we wrote a really useful catalogue of activities that would be good for our training sessions. So we just had a rapid change of plan!

We should have the same people tomorrow so at least we know roughly what lies ahead!

Singing and dancing Gambian style

Singing and dancing Gambian style

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Guiders and GGGA Executives Training

This will need to be the most efficient blog post ever. We have barely had electricity since last night so batteries are running low!

Teamwork: team needed to make string shapes using only the left arm of one person and the right arm of another team member.

Teamwork: team needed to make string shapes using only the left arm of one person and the right arm of another team member.

Today was a big day for us, we were running a large training for Guide leaders and the GGGA Executive members. The day went well and was lots of fun! We tried many different games and covered some of the same topics that we covered with the Guides (teamwork, leadership and advocacy).

We got to know a lot more about how Guiding works over here and swapped lots of ideas with the Guiders that hopefully they will take back to their units. The feedback we got was good and many of them asked that the training could be longer! Hopefully we are making a difference.

The Gambian leaders took the opportunity to teach us some songs and we also started teaching them the campfire classic, Edelweiss. It was a spur of the moment decision to sing it as I was desperately trying to think of an alternative to the other GOLD classics and think of something with actions… Having lived in Austria and Switzerland, I would never have thought I would be singing that song in the 30+ degrees heat of Africa!! But that is Guiding for you.

We were filmed again for Gambian TV today, we will be quite the celebrities soon! Haha
Tomorrow is more training so we best leave it there for tonight. Good night, dear readers!

(Due to Internet fails, this should have gone up on 13th October but didn’t!)

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Training day 2

Yesterday started off with a quiet morning of planning, sorting out resources and watching the parade for the July 22nd celebrations (postponed due to Ramadan). The parade was happening in the stadium just down the road from us so when it came to the 21 gun salute, we were hearing in realtime whilst watching over the balcony! In the afternoon we headed to Serekunda Market and got material, then headed to the tailor to get measured for our Gambian outfits. Funnily enough we attracted a lot of attention at the market!

Today we had day two of training with the Guides at the Skills Centre. They seemed excited that we were back and we got some really good responses from them during the activities. This time we tried a game called cups and saucers, a spider web challenge, crossing the river challenge, human rights musical chairs, and discussed leadership styles. In the middle of the training we were filmed by GRTS, the Gambian TV channel, watch out for us!

Spider web

Spider web

Early evening there was a lot of excitement on the streets outside the Skills Centre because the president was coming to do a talk at the University across the road. We joined the people in the streets and danced along to their drumming, we made a lot of friends along the way and lots of people wanted to tell us about the president!

While we were waiting to see the President, Louise was invited to join this group for a dance!

While we were waiting to see the President, Louise was invited to join this group for a dance!

Tomorrow is our last quiet day before 6 days straight of training, and on that bombshell… Goodnight!

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