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CALUM'S ROAD COMPLETED
Well we made it and I have the pictures to
prove it! Please click HERE
to view the photos and HERE to watch the 'Calum's Road by
Motorcycle Ambulance' You Tube video.
The rain kept away for the most part and when
it did come served as a water bowser, because the one we hired was faulty. We only lost a
couple of days work to rain. It was a bit touch and go and I had a few sleepless nights,
but somehow we made it and we now have a super highway! It was such a pleasure to see the
horses and donkeys trotting along so happily to the lumo last Monday, rather then
staggering and straining as they did on the old road.
In the end it turned into a real team effort
and our team of contractors worked incredibly hard to see it through and they did it with
much humour too.
Though I had been told to watch the fuel like
a hawk, none was stolen and the operators quite often refused to take their quota because
they hadn't used it all up the day before.
The local communities as well as those from
across the river have all asked me to give thanks to all of you who made it possible for
this road to be built, they are quite ecstatic about it and people travelled from far and
wide to come and see it because they could not believe what they had heard. There were
always lots of people to watch and when we were laying the sticks, the army even turned up
to help as they had heard that we needed manpower!
It turned out to be a real community effort,
with the ladies of each village providing breakfasts and lunches for the drivers and
operators of the machines.
We could not have had a harder working team,
everyone, from the hard working Gambia Horse and Donkey staff who helped to collect the
11,200 litres of fuel and decant it into bidons ready for the next days allocation, to the
lovely lorry drivers of the three lorries which we called Tom, Richard and Harry (we had a
fourth lorry called "Non Starter" as well but he only stayed a few days!) to the
machine operators and the supervisor from The National Roads Authority, were so pleasant,
humorous and dedicated to completing the project before the rains stopped play. They were
up early and finished late and there was a great team spirit.
I would like to extend my very sincere thanks
to you all for all the help and support that you have given me, I shall never ever be able
to thank you enough. After many trials and tribulations, it turned out to be a very
uplifting experience and I met so many really lovely people through it.
Thanks too must go to the local communities
who worked so hard, to Ballast Nedam who surveyed and designed the road and who kindly
provided the culverts, to PIWAMP who helped by loaning me their machines, to Green Impact
who also supplied machines at reduced rates, to the Horse and donkey staff and to The
National Roads Authority who were so incredibly helpful and supportive and who ensured
that the work was carried out to standard.
I was reduced to tears on my last day when one
of the Sambel ladies started to cry, when I asked her why, she said, " wherever she
is, I know that Stella will be happy now, but I wish she was here".
THANK YOU ALL so much, we could not have done
it without you.
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MAY 15th 2010
Great progress is being made on Calum's Road.
Ballast Nedam, a Dutch engineering firm who are working on a major road building project
in The Gambia, have very kindly offered to help us with this project at a vastly
discounted price, though at around £65,000 it is still a HUGE amount of money to raise.
Thanks to the motorbikers and a number of fundraising events, we have managed to raise
just under £50,000 and just need to raise the final £15,000. Ballast Nedam, with their
incredible kindness and generosity have extended the time required to pay the final
instalment in order to help us to meet our target.
If any of you know of any organisation, grant
making trust, individual or even media who might be interested in the Calum's Road story,
please contact us as we need all the help we can get to complete this road.
Calum's Road in The Gambia crosses a swamp so
will need to be raised quite high to rise above the rainy season water levels. I am no
engineer, but apparently if you just raise the level of the road without giving it time to
settle, it will quickly break down again unless other measures are taken.
Ballast Nedam have decided to design this road
as they would a Dutch dyke, this means that the local community are heavily involved
preparing bundles of sticks and sewing "geo matting" together, enough to cover
the 1.3 kilometres of the lowest lying piece of road.
The communities have been coming out in force
to help and have pooled their money together to enable the ladies to make their breakfast
and lunch on the "work" days. They are hoping that by next week, (20th May,
2010), they will have completed their part of the road and the heavy machinery will then
be able to come in and complete it. Ballast Nedam hope to begin early in June and hope to
complete the road by the end of June which will hopefully be just in time for the rains.
A family friend, Nigel Orbell, went out for a
month on a voluntary basis to organise and supervise the community efforts and we are very
grateful to him for his sterling efforts.
You will see from the pictures HERE that the people arrive from far
and wide to help, from across the river, on foot, on bikes and motorbikes, by tractor and
trailer and someone even came in an old Mercedes!
We are so close to the end of our journey for
Calum's road now, if you feel you can help at all with fundraising for the final push, it
would be a great help to us, to the community and to the animals who have to pull heavily
laden carts on this road.
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For a BBC video of extended footage of the trip from Raasay
to Gambia please click *here
NB The BBC video may not be
available for those resident outside the UK
(Before Road was Built)
Click on Image to View larger Version