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Marlborough Mayor buoyed by visit to Gambian community
2:00pm Monday 30th April 2012 in News
Mayor of Marlborough Alexander Kirk Wilson has returned from a week in the town’s link community of Gunjur in West Africa.
He stayed with a host family during the visit, which was arranged by Marlborough Brandt Group.
The mayor, who paid the costs of his visit, said: “Gunjur – the village in the Gambia with which the Marlborough Brandt Group has had a 30-year association – is a remarkable place.
“Although a village, it is four times the size of Marlborough with some 30,000 inhabitants. It has no mains electricity or piped water.
“Almost everyone lives in a ‘compound’, maybe the size of half a football pitch, bounded by a six-foot wall, and containing a well and perhaps three bungalows.
“Where I lived, my host Boyo lived with his two wives, 11 of his 14 children (four of them adopted from other family members), an uncle and some other dependents.”
Brandt Group president Dr Nick Maurice and chairman Anna Quarrendon were also among the visiting party.
Coun Kirk Wilson said: “Dr Maurice is held in enormously high regard in Gunjur as what the group has achieved over the years has been remarkable.
“Classrooms have been built, girls’ education promoted, healthcare improved and maternal and childhood mortality greatly improved.
“Some thousands of Gambians have come to the UK for technical training – and only a handful have absconded – and thousands of UK volunteers have worked in the village.”
The mayor said the latest Marlborough group to visit Gunjur went to reinforce existing relationships, but also to welcome the UK High Commissioner, David Morley, who visited the village to inspect projects in progress.
Coun Kirk Wilson said: “Our week was very busy, as we had to call on and pay our respects to the village headman or Alkalo, the headwoman or Nyansimba, and the Imam, who holds a high place in society, the village being 90 per cent Muslim.
“We attended a number of meetings of the bodies at that end managing the link, and Dr Maurice was called on to adjudicate on a squabble between them.
“We attended a ‘naming ceremony’ – equivalent to a christening here but with 1,000 guests and with a marquee in the road. There are no road closures in Gunjur.”