Jason Florio gets ready to photograph the Tolleh Kaafo – the ‘Silly Group’ – Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa

Florio – in the thick of the Tolleh Kaafo – the ‘Silly Group’ – Kartong, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

We met the local Tolleh Kaafo women – the Silly Group – the other day, in Kartong village. Most villages will have such a group and, basically, their purpose is to lighten up situations, laughing and joking around, when things get too serious. But, on that serious note, these women – past child-bearing age and/or can’t bear children – help out those in need. Such as when a woman loses her child or her husband, they will come along and help her to cope with the grief – whether it be planting the rice crop or sweeping her compound – and, whilst they are at it, they will lift her spirits with their goofy antics…singing, dancing, banging on plastic water containers with sticks, chasing each other around with wicker brooms, wearing over-sized glasses, without lenses, and painting their lips and faces with vivid fucshia lipstick.

Florio the Brave – getting in the van with the Tolleh Kaafo!! Kartong, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

We spent a cacophonous, hectic, afternoon in the presence of these formidable women, once we managed to get them all together that is – ‘like corralling cats’ is the phrase that springs to mind – these women do not stand still for a moment! During our time with them, they graciously allowed us to film and photograph them at work, play and pray – they pray for those who are in need and also give thanks for their own good fortune.

We’ll be posting more on this impressive group of women soon – perhaps with a taster of the film we made – so please stop by again soon.

The Florios (H & Flo)