Our River Gambia Expedition donors say ‘thank you’ / grazie mille

Giorgio with print

“Grazie Jason e grazie Helen Jones-Florio bellissima foto !!!”

Prints for donors

Prints for all our River Gambia Expedition donors © Jason Florio

We just received this from Giorgio in Italy – who was one of our River Gambia Expedition donors. They look very pleased with their ‘Boy in the Mask’ print – which is the image they chose from Jason Florio’s new ‘River Gambia’ series – as their reward for getting involved in ‘An Exchange’ way back last year, when we were raising funds for the expedition.

Giorgio Scobbi1_DSF4514 copy

Thanks to to Sgobbi family for their support for our expedition – all the way from The Gambia, West Africa

Before we first sent out our initial fundraising email, and later Kickstarter, we tried to think of a unique way of saying thank you to everyone who chipped in. We came up with the idea of making banners – with whatever materials we could find when we were down in West Africa – and writing our donors names and websites on (if they had one) them. Then we posted the images here on the blog and our FB page and Twitter.  And, along the way, we had fun doing this…so many people we met on the journey, who participated when we explained, loved the idea of it – and/or loved the camera! Either way, it worked out really well.

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“You guys rock!” Julie Grahame/aCurator image © Jason Florio

We’ve since sent Florio’s prints out all over the world. So…grazie mille, abaraka baci, merci beaucoup, jerrujef, danke, shukran, dik, muchas grazias, 謝謝, kia ora, mange tak, ta, khàwp khun, a sheynem dank….

Thank you!!

The Florios (H & Flo)

P.S. more tales from the River Gambia coming up

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A female migrant worker from Mali pulls up fishing pots from River Gambia, near the Gambian village of Fatoto. Image © Jason Florio


Last remaining prints, by Jason Florio, to ship out to our donors – from the River Gambia series

From this:

To this…the last few remaining prints to send out:

Sunday 21st May, 2013 – NYC

After a couple of weeks of processing, packing, and labeling, we’ve now shipped out the bulk of prints, to our donors, who donated $100 and over for our River Gambia Expedition - sharing with them all those people we met along the way, who Florio photographed.

Thanks so much for the wonderful “*Boy in Mask” photo and the extra Fur Coat pic (postcard). All arrived in great condition. I’m having the Boy pic custom framed to match the “Alhaji Tonkara” photo. Both will reside in my living room. Thanks again and all best wishes for your continued happiness and success”  Bob, Fort Myers, Florida – just received his print. Bob was the very first donor for our initial crowd-funding campaign ‘an exchange‘ for this expedition, and he has been a great support over the years – he also generously donated for our 2009 expedition, in exchange for one of Florio’s prints,A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey


‘Boy in the Mask’ The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 8.12.34 AMTrunk (@trunkmag) is ecstatic w/ our ‘Boy in Mask’ print from @floriophotoNYC Jason Florio’s prints-River Gambia seriesDavid Ciccone – Founder and Creative Director, NYC

Again, a humongous thank you to everyone who helped us get on to that mighty River Gambia – from Australia, Switzerland, Germany, East Africa, West Africa, UK, Canada, USA, Turkey, Italy, Ireland, France… . Suddenly, our apartment feels quite empty…time to go out and play!

More river stories coming very soon – as our journey continues from where we left off

The Florios (H & Flo)

*If you missed our crowd-funding campaign’s, Jason Florio’s prints are available to purchase – from the website gallery floriophoto.com

With a little help from our friends, here’s how we raised the money to make the River Gambia Expedition happen:

An Exchange



The pier at Bonto © Jason Florio – to check out the ‘River Gambia’ series, please visit the website floriophoto.com

Photographer Jason Florio’s prints for our donors – taken whilst on the River Gambia Expedition – are almost ready to ship!


Prints for donors

Sunday 14th April, 2013

We’ve spent the last few days packing, packing and…more packing – using lots of recycled cardboard too, thanks to Hakim and the guys at Waverly Wines, 6th Ave, NYC! Prints incoming to all those who donated over $100 for the River Gambia Expedition  – plus postcards for everyone – to our ‘An Exchange’ and ‘Kickstarter’ campaigns last year.


‘Boy in Fur’ © Jason Florio – River Gambia

Further tales from the River Gambia coming soon – once we get all the prints shipped out!

Thanks for stopping by

The Florios (H & Flo)

More personal ‘thank you’ banners to our donors – River Gambia Expedition

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Michael Mut/ Love Yourself Project, NYC – Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa

So many of your made this expedition possible – with your participation in ‘An Exchange’ and the Kickstarter campaign – in exchange for donations we offered Jason Floiro’s limited edition fine photography art prints, taken whilst on the River Gambia Expedition . For that, we were immensely humbled by your support and unprecedented generosity.

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Teru Kuwayana, NY, USA – Bonto, River Gambia, The Gambia

Before we first sent out our fundraising emails we tried to think of a unique way of saying thank you to everyone who chipped in. The above is what we came up with. And, along the way, we had fun doing this…so many people we met on the journey, who participated when we explained, loved the idea of it – and/or loved the camera! Either way, it worked out really well.

Please see our ‘big thanks page’ for more banners.

BIG Thanks!

The Florios – H & Flo x

To see Jason Florio series of images from the River Gambia, please check out his website: www.floriophoto.com

More personal thanks from West Africa to those who made the River Gambia Expedition possible



Our way of saying thanks to all those who made the River Gambia Expedition possible – with your participation in ‘An Exchange’ and the Kickstarter campaign. For that, we have been immensely humbled by your support and unprecedented generosity.

Thank you’s – all the way from West Africa!

BIG thanks – (see more here)

The Florios (H & Flo)

To those who don’t see their names on the ‘rolling page of HUGE thanks’, please bear with us as we sort through three months of images!

Thank you! Our River Gambia Kickstarter campaign is a big success!!


Florio & H – ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’ 2009 The Gambia, West Africa

Crikey…we did it! You did it!! Kickstarter success!

We can’t thank everyone enough for all the support and encouragement over these last months, including ‘An Exchange’ for Jason Florio’s fine art photo prints (still running on the blog by the way, so it’s not too late) and on Kickstarter.

It’s our last day before we fly down to West Africa and lots of running around (nothing new there, then), to begin the River Gambia Expedition proper. We’ll post more updates later…soon…once we can breathe again ;)

BIG LOVE and gratitude to everyone…we are truly humbled.
Jason & Helen Florio x

Wed 10th October, 2012: River Gambia Expedition Update, Jason Florio’s fine art photography prints, and dug outs v Ally folding canoes!

Random road shots: The Alkalo (village chief), Dam Sallah, and the village elders come to meet the team – Kerr Sat Maram, The Gambia, West Africa
Image © Jason Florio
A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey

As mentioned in a previous post, we now have a leaving date for the River Gambia Expedition – we fly down to The Gambia, West Africa, next week – at last (16th October – thanks to Jenny and Matt and all at The Gambia Experience for their support and much needed excess baggage allowance!)! And, this is mainly due to everyone’s support – through both ‘An Exchange’ and ‘Kickstarter’.

Alkalo Dam Sallah, Kerr Sait Maram © Jason Florio – 2009

Since we reached our Kickstarter target the other day, we’ve had a number of emails asking if this means its too late the get hold of one of Jason Florio’s limited edition fine art photography prints – which will be taken from a series of images he will take whilst we are traversing over 1000km through Guinea, Senegal and The Gambia – trekking and canoeing – in and around the River Gambia?

In a word: No.

Firstly, the Kickstarter campaign does not end until the 15th October (so, you have 4 more days to pledge for ‘rewards’. Please see our KS page for all the details). Secondly, ‘An Exchange’ - here on the blog – will carry on until at least the 31st October (when the expedition proper will start – when we reach Guinea and the Fouta Djallon Highlands, to begin the first leg and 200km of trekking through that region). ‘An Exchange’ works pretty much like KS (except you donate through Paypal instead of KS/Amazon) – but, along with the forthcoming River Gambia Expedition series, you can also choose from Florio’s fine art gallery, from his Black & White and Colour Collection, of images he has taken, on his travels, from all over the world.

‘Angkor Wat 2′ – Cambodia. Image © Jason Florio (B/W)

We’re particularly looking forward to posting about our arrival into The Gambia, when we meet up with our local Gambian team mates, old friends and experienced river men, Abdou and Ebu. From then, we’ll be last minute prepping – including introducing ‘The Twins’ (our two 811 Ally 16.5′ folding Canoes) to Abdou and Ebu.

H & one of ‘The Twins’ – the 811 Ally 16.5′ folding canoe – practicing on the Basingstoke Canal, Surrey, UK (not quite the River Gambia but, hey…a girl’s gotta practice somewhere). Image © Jason Florio 2012

It will be interesting to see what they think of these super-light craft, compared to their heavy, low-on-the-water, tradition dug out canoes (‘pirogues’). We’ve had some experience over the years, in The Gambia, paddling dug-outs on the Mandina balong, through Makasutu Culture Forest – made from a hollowed tree trunk, they can be very heavy and unwieldy indeed. To us, our Ally canoes virtually glide across the surface of the water! However, watching Abdou and Ebu paddling in their dug-out, and the ease (and many years of experience) with which they maneuver it, they make it look as if they are floating above the surface of the water!! Each to their own…

More updates as and when.

As always, thanks for stopping by…we hope that you continue to follow us on our journey (if you don’t want to miss our updates, simply add your email address in the box, in the right hand column, ‘Follow us…please’ and verify)

The Florios (‘Flo’ & ‘H’)

P.S. And, remember, you can still pledge or donate for Florio’s fine art photography prints – either through ‘Kickstarter’ or ‘An Exchange’

Click on image – Deadline 15th Oct. 2012

We made our Kickstarter target – 7 days early! MEGA thanks to you all! 15th Oct deadline – still time to pledge for Jason Florio’s fine art prints!

And, it’s a BIG thank you to New York photographer, Robert Wright, for pushing us over the Kickstarter edge – making our target, and some! We are now safe in the knowledge that all your pledges, for the River Gambia Expedition, will be released after the deadline of the 15th October. We can breathe again – and pay for the second 811 Ally folding canoe, for our Gambian team mates, at last!

We had a such an amazing response to both this Kickstarter campaign and to our ongoing ‘An Exchange’ program on the blog. So, if you know anyone who would like to jump on board too, for Jason Florio’s limited edition fine art photography prints (taken whilst we are on the expedition or from his black/white and colour collection on-line gallery), it’s not too late – ‘An Exchange’ will still be up until Oct 31st and the KS campaign is on for another 6 days (15th Oct).

Yellowbrick 'YB3' Tracking Device - follow our (almost) every move on the expedition

Expedition tracking coming soon – please check out the blog in the meantime

You’ll all be able to track our progress, when we start the expedition proper (we’ll start the tracking off when we fly down to The Gambia, West Africa, on the 16th Oct, to last minute prep with our Gambian team mates, Abdou and Ebu). The Yellowbrick link is on our River Gambia Expedition blog’s home page – all ready to go – all you will need to do is click on the logo to go to our Yblog, where you will find our West Africa map (once we start tracking)

L-R: Alkalo Dam Sallah, Kerr Sait Maram and Alkalo Fatou Dansu, Kabba Kama, Basse, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio 2009

We’re looking forward to getting down there, getting on the road and the river and into the villages. And, hopefully, along the way, we’ll meet some old friends – whilst on the River Gambia, we’ll be passing by some of the villages we stayed in on our last expedition, ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’, where we are sure to encounter some of the chiefs, ‘Alkalos’, who sat for portraits, and which resulted in an award-winning body of work ‘Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey’

And, more importantly, we hope to make many more new friends, as we travel through Guinea, Senegal and The Gambia – to bring back stories and images, which we will also be uploading to our blog, and the Yblog, as often as we can/whenever we can find a connection. So, if you haven’t already, sign up to get the updates on the blog, ‘like’ our FB page, or follow us on Twitter

We’d love to get more of your messages whilst we are out there, trekking and paddling, in West Africa, so please do sign up for the blog etc, to enable you to message us – see right hand side of this page ‘follow us…please’

Again, huge thanks to every one of you for your fantastic support, best wishes, good lucks, watch out for the hippos (we’ll do our darn-tootin’ best!!), and words of encouragement – above and beyond what we could wish for.

Flo & H – Iten, The Great Rift Valley, Kenya, E. Africa – on assignment for AFAR Magazine. Image by Alex Matalambut Keles – THE best fixer/guide in The Great Rift Valley!

Abraka Baci (‘many thanks’ in Mandinka)

Jason & Helen (‘Flo’ & ‘H’)

P.S. Still time to pledge on Kickstarter for Jason’s limited edition fine art prints. Check out the link below for all the details. Deadline 15th Oct!

Click on image to support our KS page-Deadline 15th Oct. 2012

A hare’s breath away from our target – and 9 days from flying down to West Africa for the River Gambia Expedition

Update: Sunday 7th October, 2012

We’ve had an overwhelming response to both our initial ‘An Exchange’ offer, here on the website (which is still running) and our most recent Kickstarter campaign (deadline is the 15th October), for our ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’.

Fisherman on the River Gambia, at Dusk, The Gambia, West Africa – Image © Jason Florio 2009

At the risk of repeating ourselves, we are both beyond humbled by everyone’s support and words of encouragement for our photography documentary expedition, down to West Africa, which will take us on over a 1000km journey – travelling by foot and canoes.

Following are just a few of the comments from some of our donors, from all over the globe, which have helped galvanize us over the months of planning – especially at times when we couldn’t see the wood for the trees (or the River Gambia for the woods on our maps!):

Robert ‘Rob’ Jones – Fort Myers, Florida, USA Robert ‘Rob’ Jones – Fort Myers, Florida, USA “Here’s a little help…I will be following your adventure. Be safe doing the good work. Your friend, Bob”

Thomas Donley – Photographer - New York, NY, USA. “I wish you and your entire team, very well. Here’s to great adventures!!! I look forward to the updates…Enjoy! Enjoy Enjoy!”

Claire & Glenn PottQueensland, AustraliaSounds like you will be having an amazing journey. We look forward to reading all your updates (before, during and after!). Good luck Jason and Helen. Sending lots of Aussie love and well wishes!”

Fiona Cullinan - Journalist – Birmingham, UK“Sounds like a wonderful expedition! Great to see you making it happen, despite the collapse in media budgets! Looking forward to seeing the reports and your new fine art photography collection (from the expedition)”

Andy NeedhamUNHCRNairobi, Kenya, East Africa.Hi Jason, Helen, stay clear of the crocs! Keep away from things with sharp teeth! All the best, Andy’

There are so many more, far too many to put in this one little post. However, you can check them out, if you so wish, on our BIG Love & Thanks page.

Florio ‘Is that an island, Jones, or is it a hippo?’ Image © Tyrone Florio

Thank you really doesn’t seem anywhere near adequate…however, we are extremely thankful and very, very grateful for all the support, and belief, in what we are about to embark on. Also, we just spoke with our Gambian team mates, Abdou and Ebu, over Skype, in The Gambia, this morning and they are as excited as we are, to get down to Guinea, to begin the expedition proper.

The River Gambia Expedition Route Map

Now…we just have to beat our Kickstarter target by the 15th October – otherwise they don’t release the funds! We’re nearly there though…so, if you have couple of dollars/pounds/yen/pesos/krone/moolah to spare, there will be rewards for all.

Click on image to support our KS page-Deadline 15th Oct. 2012

Huge thanks to everyone!

Florio & Helen x


8 and a bit days to go on Kickstarter – and just a hare’s breath away from reaching our target!

Click on image to pledge our KS page-and to see rewards. Deadline 15th Oct. 2012.


River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source to sea African odyssey