Saturday, July 30, 2011


The basketball camp is over.  The grant finally was 3 all-star games last night.  Overall the camp was a big success.  One of the things I was most impressed with was a group of students and their coach from the school for the deaf.  Not only are they deaf but the Gambian sign language is not the same as American Sign Language.  Some of the kids know Wolof but that is one tribal language I don’t know so throughout the camp we communicated with hand gestures and grunts.  It was great though, I think they got a lot out of it and on the court you could not tell they were deaf.  
The Entire Camp

The Deaf coach and the three of us

The Deaf campers

The winning dunk from the dunk contest

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rice Milling Machine Project

My village had been given a large sum of money from a development agency via the World Bank.  Some of the money was already before I arrived in my village on an ox art and two oxen.  I began to help them on a water project that would convert a bore hole with one hand pump to a bore hole with a large tank and generator and taps or faucet for the villagers to use.  The project was well under way until they committee that reviews the project said the village would have to contribute about 70K Dalasis.  The village could not come up with that much money so the project was canceled. 

The village then decided they wanted to spend their money on a tractor.  When they called the committee about the possibility of buying a tractor they said no, not enough money was available.  Finally the village decided they wanted a rice milling machine.  The committed approved the machine and the building of a cement block building to house the machine.

A few weeks ago we started building the blocks out of cement.  It is interesting the first thing is you have to mix 2 wheel barrows of sand to one back of cement. 
Notice the man with his hands on his hips?? And the sweet winter hat? That’s my host father supervising
Getting sand with my host father supervising

Mixing the sand and cement

remixing the cement and waiting for a block mold
 You then shovel the cement mixture into a mold and drop it a couple times to compress the cement and then start stacking them on ground
making blocks
You get about 45 blocks from one mixture of sand and cement.

Measuring for the foundation
Then a few days later we had to measure and start digging the foundation.  The foundation was 18cm deep and one block wide.  The building will have a foot print of 6m X 5m

Digging the foundation with the usal supervisor

Mixing Mortar

Transporting blocks by donkey cart
Then we start building the actual building.  

Walls going up via Gambian

Basketball Camp Times Two

I am currently in town for a week to work with Scholar Athletes for Change 3rd annual basketball camp.  The camp is ran by Pierre Jallow, who went to collage in Missouri and William Jewell College and then played professionally in Australia, Estonia, Finland, Ireland and England.  

There are about 100 kids ranging in age from 10-18 and about half of them are girls.  I am helping with the advanced girls group.  It is going well I have really enjoyed working with the kids teaching them new skills and seeing how much they improve from day to day.  

This camp is different than the camp I helped out with last month.  This camp emphasizes scholastics.  The kids have to write a one page essay by the end of the camp and the best paper will be judged and then published in the local paper.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gambian Pothole Rangers

When living on a sandy road with many bush taxis, ox carts and donkey carts potholes begin to develop.  These are not the standard American potholes were you can just move the path of the car a few inches to avoid it, you can’t avoid it.  So my host brother being the motivated person and a little influence from my host father I think decided I along with a few neighbor guys would fill the pothole. 


 My day started with him beating on my door “Forday get up! Forday get up!!”  (Forday is my Gambian name if you were wondering.) I was awake but just laying in bed.  I figured I probably should get up and see what he wanted.  When I come outside he asked if I was sleeping and I tell him yes I need my beauty sleep. He continues to inform me of the task at hand and tells me to grab my bucket and shovel.

So first we bucket all the water out of the hole.  While we do that my host brother climbs the nearest mango tree and begins cutting down large branches and limbs. 

Limbs and branches

Me working very hard

We then cut them up and get a good base of large limbs and sticks.  After that we throw smaller branches and leaves on that and chop them up with machetes.

After that we get a donkey cart and start shoveling dirt onto it then push the donkey cart to the pothole and dump it.  I bet we did 25 loads of dirt.    
Filling up the dump truck

It was successful the rain we got yesterday did not puddle up nearly as much as it did previously. 

Amadoo posing
It was a long day but at the end of it I felt like I accomplished something, the only bad thing is there are about a dozen more holes like this one on the road in the village…

Kaba finishing up, notice the stocking cap in 80+degrees and 80% humidity
Pa my host brother and a small boy

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

African Colonized bees 2 team O’Mikey 1

So, I went beekeeping again Thursday evening with my friend Yaya. It was a similar situation as before, a hive that hasn’t been opened in over a year and we decided to open it.  It was going well until I started feeling the stings from the bees.  It started in my hands then on my neck and then one in my eyebrow.  I could feel it and there was nothing I could do because my hands where one the smoker and opening the bucket so Yaya could put the comb into it.  I was getting stung so much I could feel my heartbeat increase and my body almost seemed to start throbbing.  I am not sure if it was adrenaline or just my freaking out but it was crazy.

The hive was a mess, the comb was perpendicular to the top bars, which is bad.  We cut out as much as the old comb as we could and filled our two bucket with good capped and uncapped comb and called it a day.  We had about 45 minutes until it was dark and from my limited experience, the bees seem to leave you alone and go back to their hive once the sun goes down.  We walked about 30 yards away from the hive and dropped the buckets.  We walked a few hundred yard away and found some small leafy branches and started swatting bees away from us and off each other.  Mainly we do this because the farther you go from the hive the more likely the bees will go home.  The problem is there is no brush to walk through to trick them or hide from them.  We were in a large rice field with some trees so there was no hiding just waiting and swatting. 

After the sun went down the bees went home.  We took our suits off and I started assessing the damage.  My right hand had already started to swell and the side of my face hurt.  I had Yaya look at it but he said it looked fine.  Once I got home and looked in the mirror my eye and around it had started to swell, my family laughed and asked if I was wearing the bee suit?  I said of course, but they didn’t understand how I could of gotten stung so much.  I didn’t try to explain the most Africans are smaller than I, thus the one size fits all suits are tight on my which makes it easy for bees to sting me. 

Friday morning I get up and roll over and I thought I rolled over onto my flashlight but no, it was just my swollen face. Then I realized that I could only see out of one of my eyes and I started laughing.  I looked at my arms and hands with my one good eye and they look like marshmallows.  In all I had about 20 stings.  So, I then made the journey outside and my family all went “oooooo”, and “EHHHHH” I just started laughing because I can do nothing else.  People started calling me “Forday one eye.”   I came to the realization that when you’re a one eyed white kid in a village people are going to point and ask what happened and laugh.  People asked what happened and I just would say “bees, not good.” 

It took a couple days but I am not better and no lasting effects.  I have just realized that African Colonized honeybees stings are little worse than the bees in America.

the next morning after being stung

The rain and my compound

The rain again

here is a link of a picture from another blog of me working hard

That’s all until the next story

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I came into town for some meetings and to see some friends, so I figured I would update my blog.  Things are going good at my site.  I finally had a meeting the other night with the Community Forest Committee; which oversees all that goes on in the community forest and then with the Village Development Committee.  The VDC is like a city council in a way.  I have been working on getting a meeting with the two parties for going on two months.  Meetings here are interesting to say the least in my village.  First they never start on time, you say they start at if most of the people show up.  So this lucky evening we started at .  Villages don’t show up for meetings for various reasons,  anything from being too tired to not given enough notice there is a meeting when they were told the day before. 

The meeting started off well they began with an opening Islamic prayer as they do before every meeting.  Then I started off talking about a few things that I wanted from both committees, like for them to work together so we could actually do some work in the forest and begin a community tree nursery.  Much of the problem in the village is politics.  I was surprised when I came here that just like in the states your personal opinion of another person or how they do things influences how you work with them, here it is the same.  From what I can tell and been told is the youth in my village are not happy with the forest committee because they don’t believe they are working in the forest and being transparent enough with the profits they receive from the forest.  The VDC isn’t happy with the forest committee because they don’t think they work in the forest enough either.  The forest committee isn’t happy with the VDC because they go in the forest and work and cut trees and do things without consulting the forest committee and their action plans. Then there is a Peace Corps kid that shows up and starts asking about when the last forest committee meeting was and 20 other questions that don’t get answered and that is how our first meeting came about. 

The first hour of the meeting went well then the last two hours were people arguing and trying to talk over each other.  Then you have an older man that speaks up and tries to argue what committee came first the forest committee or the VDC, I told him it doesn’t matter lets stay on track and focus on the task at hand.  Finally at and three and a half hours later I made the late night walk back to my house and went to sleep.  It was successful, success in the sense that I brought the two groups together and forced them to talk and forced them to schedule another meeting this coming Thursday.  So as my fellow villagers say “inshalla” which in Arabic means the hopefulness that an event will take place.

One last picture of us with Tommy Davis and the mural that was painted on the court.