Dear Follow Follow,
I had just the most amazing time in Gabon. Locals were awesome. Initially, with regards to the equipment, the minister of education, Michel Menga, asked to see me for dinner a few days after my arrival. After seeing the outfit, he told me that he would get a ceremony organized for the distribution to the team. He is himself an ex professional Footballer.
Two weeks later, last Tuesday, I went to Cocobeach with the equipment and the balls. Once there, we met with the Maire and the Prefect and the locals.
The ceremony was very emotional as it was a first for the kids. They were very excited to wear the colors of the Glasgow Rangers. After a few speeches we handed over the outfits. They got dressed and we took a few photos with the local officials (Mayor, Prefect) and coaches.
They will wear these outfits for each league game. Also, the local town hall will manage and stock them. They have written a thank you letter to both Follow-Follow and the Non Profit Organization I co-manage, Desir Nature Gabon..
With the money you have handed, I have purchased a very large boat that will be used by a local poor family for fishing and transport. It is currently in construction on the other side of the river in Equatorial Guinea. It will be called Folo-Folo. I have enclosed a photo of an equivalent we used to check on the local wildlife. (Lamantines, Elephants, Monkeys, Crocs, Pygmies etc etc)
My next plan is to get a few banks to give me the computers they no longer use. I have agreed with the minister that they would be shipped direct to the local kids in Cocobeach (without any interference in my luggage from the customs !!!) to allow them to access the internet and the outer world as they have nothing much to do except fish and play football. An internet café will also be created to fund the creation of an infrastructure to handle and cater comfortably for tourists in Cocobeach and in the forest. Cocobeach has 20 miles of pristine white and yellow sand beaches (I have enclosed a photo of Cocobeach with the sand beach in front). I even found in the local cemetery a few Liverpudlians tombs from 1885 !!!
Any help from the bank or any other organization would be welcome. Part of my earnings and time go into this as I want to make sure that it goes directly to the locals and to the preservation of this primordial forest from the Chinese oil and mining prospectors (85% of the land mass from Gabon).
I am hoping to return there in August, if I manage to find a consulting role in the interim.
I want to thank you and your mates from Follow Follow for the kindness they demonstrated in giving these outfits and money. I was amazed by the generosity and swift action from your Scottish mates and yourself. It seems to be a very rare quality nowadays and your country is blessed manifold with it. Your act of generosity will remain forever in the heart and minds of this kids..
Michel Menga has also asked to see me in Paris on the 10th of February. This act of generosity from your association has allowed Desir Nature Gabon and my team in Africa to be on the forefront of the preservation of wildlife in Gabon. I thank you also for that.
I will send a photo of the boat after the next trip. It should be completed within two weeks from now.
Very kind regards to you all and to Folo-Folo !!!