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Jole Rider - All Things Gambian

By Stella Almond - Posted on 24 February 2013

We have begun training Lamin and Suloman at Jole Rider's BikeFactory Gambia.With their new tools they are showing incredible aptitude. Their big thing is wheels truing sideways and vertically, replacing spokes, replacing rims, and re-building from scratch. This is great for them to learn, as damaged wheels are by far the most common problem in The Gambia.

Suloman, despite not speaking English well, understands everything he is shown really quickly. Lamin is educating us about all things Gambian. The first thing on our blackboard was a whole load of Mandinka [local tribal language] for us to learn! Now that training has started, David, like a proper teacher, has been drawing plenty of diagrams on the board for Lamin and Suloman to copy for future reference.

Today we finished painting the sign to go outside the workshop to save us having to explain to every person who comes to see what we are doing that no, we dont sell bikes, and no, we cant repair theirs! Its hard, as we clearly have all the tools, but our role is training and servicing of the school bikes. We can't confuse things by becoming a public repair service; but some of our trainees will go on to repair bikes for the community with their new skills.

As for our living arrangements, we are in Boyo's compound now. After the first hot, sticky, noisy [a lost baby goat wondering around the compound crying for its mum who I could hear bleating miles away!!!] night when I hardly slept, I thought it was going to be pretty tough. However, we have got more and more used to it, and now I really like it!

There are literally dozens of children living in the compound. The last few evenings a growing flock have sat with us, teaching us Mandinka. They made us write down new words, and tested us before we've had a chance to learn them! I brought out Bananagram, a game a bit like Scrabble, and they loved it!

Jo Price  15.1.13

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