Why we started

Gavin Paterson, Marcia Paterson and Peter McCallum founded Yellobric in 2011 after Gavin and Peter spent 5 months travelling by land down the West coast of Africa in a once in a lifetime journey through some of the poorest and most deprived places on the planet.

The travellers experienced a huge gamut of emotions during their epic journey. Sadness in seeing children scavenging through rubbish tips in Nigeria next to glossy government offices. Fear when drunken local police fired their AK-47s as a starter gun for drag racing traffic. Disappointment at donated clothes and equipment undermining local industry. Surprise at the level of connectivity available and mobile phone coverage.

Gavin with Babs in Nigeria

During their stay in Abuja in Nigeria they made an arrangement with The Sheraton hotel manager; they could camp in his car park as long as they ate at the restaurant in the compound. During their stay Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (then President of Nigeria) went missing (and eventually died) resulting in rumours of a military coupe. So, Gavin and Peter were confined to the hotel complex for around a week eating at the same restaurant every night.

The restaurant included live music played by a very talented musician, Babs, who could play almost any requested song. After eating there every night Gavin became friends with him. Babs was self taught and learnt to play the piano from sheet music patrons of the hotel gifted him. Babs suggested that after the curfew was lifted Gavin may like to come and visit his house on the outskirts of Abuja to see a very different side of the city.

Abuja school in the slums of Nigeria

Abuja school, Nigeria

Babs lived in an out-of-town slum, with no running water or sanitation and took Gavin on a tour of the slum, finishing at his corrugated tin house. The house consisted of a single room, with no running water or sanitation facilities but Babs did have a keyboard, PC and recording facilities that he used to teach the local kids music.

After the tour Gavin donated some money to the slum but wanted to give Babs something more appropriate to say thank you for his kindness and generosity. Another travelling companion of Gavin’s, also a musician, had hundreds of copies of freely available PDF sheet music on his palmtop. Gavin downloaded these onto a memory stick and uploaded them onto Babs’ PC so that he and his students could learn almost any jazz song they wished.

This sparked a realisation; it was possible to do this with literature since the advent of the eBook. On returning home, Gavin set about founding Yellobric.