Making a difference in the Gambia
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About us

As the founders of Karmic Angels, we would like to introduce ourselves to you and tell you our story about what made us decide to do something for a country and people often ignored. We are Alan and Stephanie, husband and wife who have always had a dream.
Stephanie has always had a love of West Africa and there is a very big reason why. When she was born in 1959 her mother gave birth to her when she was only 5 months pregnant and being born only the size of a hand nobody gave her a chance of surviving. A priest was called to give her “the last rites”, but there was no priest around. A black nurse was in the ward and she was the one who saved Stephanie because in those days you did not have the chance of survival due to the lack of the modern day equipment. She was of course from the Gambia and had recently travelled by sea from the Gambia to Liverpool to work as a cadet nurse, She was the one who kept Stephanie alive and in those days it was in the newspapers as “The miracle baby”. Stephanie survived after 9 months of trauma and the Gambian nurse (who we have now found out after 60 years her name was Mary Elizabeth Jarra who was only a teenager when she was a cadet nurse so it’s definitely a miracle) gave her her name from Corinthians out of the bible this was “Stephanius” made into Stephanie as she was a girl. Since that time she has owed her life to her and felt that the best way to give back what she gained was to give back to the Gambia. Unfortunately Mary Elizabeth had passed away in 2014 but we have found her family members our new extended family so one day we will meet them.

When Stephanie was 13 years old instead of reading things like “The Bunty” or other ‘girly’ magazines back then in the 1970’s, she read about “Mandinka” and “Drum”, which was all about slavery in the Gambia. After reading books such as these, Stephanie just wanted to abolish slavery, not realizing at that young age that slavery had already been abolished.

One evening we started watching “Roots” the TV series about “Kunte Kinte”, a young 15 year old Mandinka African taken from his home village in Juffereh, the Gambia as a slave to America, along with 170 other Gambians. When we had watched the whole series, Alan thought about what it would be like to go back to the Gambia! He had already been there in 1985 but this was now 22 years later! Unknown to Stephanie, two days later a two week holiday to the Gambia for us both was booked. To say that Stephanie was surprised would be an understatement! Excitement was not a word to do justice to how she felt about doing something she had wanted to do all her life.

So, for Stephanie’s birthday we went to the Gambia in March 2007. Obviously, we didn’t realize at that point it was going to change our lives forever! On this first visit together, we did a lot of touring to see what life was all about in the Gambia and, WOW, what an eye opener. The Gambian people, most of whom have virtually nothing, are such a happy people. That is why it is called “The Smiling Coast of Africa”, yet so much poverty and such poor living conditions exist. We thought, ‘How can people live like this?’, yet still they maintain a happiness of spirit. They say that those who have everything are seldom happy but those with nothing so often have faith and, oh, indeed these wonderful people do!

Before leaving we were told by our taxi driver Lamin that there was a Dutch nurse who worked in a clinic in the bush. He said we should go and see so, before leaving, we went to “Caring Hands” Clinic, which caters for 25,000 people from 9 villages. They had no water, no generator or power and it was just so run down.
It was run by Gabrielle, a nurse from Holland, as well as Sandra who was from the UK. Both had given up a luxury lifestyle to come and make a difference for these poor people. THE GAMBIA IS ONE OF THE POOREST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD. Children with malaria, so sick but at least now being cared for and getting better. BUT NO WATER! You don’t survive without water. The plants don’t grow. The birds and animals don’t live. Water is the basic commodity of life!

In November 2007 we visited again and we were determined to do something for this clinic in Kubuneh. We walked away in the searing heat (40c), having assured them that we would. Many people start out with good intentions but, for whatever reasons, don’t or are unable to follow them up BUT WE WERE DETERMINED! We promised that when we returned we would ensure they had running water. So, upon our return to England, we started to raise funds in whatever way possible. This was just the start and now, since April 2008, “Caring Hands” has running water and power to run its run down solar power system – a day of joy for all and lots of tears.

We are registered as a charity here in the UK and in the Gambia so we can make an even bigger difference with schooling, clinics, water, agriculture and much more.