Saturday, July 21, 2012


I just returned from my first quarterly food security trek.  I am tired of sitting in a car that isn’t made for tall people, crappy pothole filled roads, and drinking water out of 300ml water bags. But, this is Africa and I try not to complain outload. It only takes a few seconds after I complain internally and I realize it’s not that bad and it could be a lot worse. 

We went to about ten volunteer’s sites and looked at their food security projects.  They were in all array of completion.  Some had not even started others where finished and we got to see how happy and excited their community members were. 

Most of the projects are agriculture based, such as gardens, seed banks or demonstration plots. Here are some pictures.  Many of them could look the same but they aren’t and many of them are just pictures of where the garden will be when the project is finished.
Fetching water

The women coming to see us

The women that garden here
It was myself, my program manager and samaka or “Sam” the driver.  We got three flat tires on the trip with the last one happening at 6 o’clock last night in the rain right in front of the transit house where he was dropping me off.  I took some pictures of the first one.  Surprisingly he might have a future in NASCAR if he works on his form and speed a little.

Sam in action
The trip was a success, we learned a lot about the project and how we will do things differently next time.  It was also great to see some of the projects that are complete and are successful thus far.  To see for example a group of women come running into a garden as soon as we pull up because they are so excited to finally have a place they can garden will put a smile on your face. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Back to The Gambian paradise

It's been a while but I am back in The Gambia.  I have been back here for about 3 weeks.  My journey back from the states was interesting I flew into Logos, Nigeria.  Which I think everybody should do once in their life.  As I was leaving that glorious nation they call Nigeria a couple women decided to get in a fight as we were taxi onto the runway and take off.  Part of me was not surprised as this is Africa.  We did make it successfully to The Gambia two hours late.  I was greeted at the airport with no luggage as someone forgot to pull it off the plane and it continued onto Dakar, Senegal.  I wouldn’t get my bags back for two weeks.  I was greeted at the airport by my two brothers and father.  They all said how much they missed me and gave me big hugs.  As we got in to my village bush taxi and push started it and exited the airport I noticed about 20 young men standing in the middle of the road and start walking towards the bush taxi.  I was somewhat sleep deprived so I didn’t realize it until they started yelling my name but it was all the soccer players and my friends from my village.  I was completely surprised and was at a loss of words when I saw all of them.  Deep down it made me feel good to know that many people wanted to come and pick me up from the airport.

Right before I left the states I was somewhat anxious, because I knew as soon as I got back to The Gambia I would have a lot to do and be very busy.  The opposite side of that is, the busier you are the less you think about your family and the emotions that come with that. 
Small boys trying to get in my house


Being dirty is being happy
I had about 2-3 days to be in village and get over the culture shock of being back and trying to knock the rust off of my local language skills.  After those couple days I went to work on the preparations for about 30 Peace Corps Volunteers from 10 other West African countries to come for a week long Food Security Conference. 
Me presenting

Field Trip
The conference went well, it was great to see what other volunteers experiences are like and how the countries vary. 

After that was finished I hustled back to my village and started working on a project I have been planning for about 8 months.  I want to build a tree nursery and have villagers come and be trained in correct fruit tree growing practices and proper grafting techniques.  While I was in America the funding came through and so now I had to hustle and go purchase the fence posts and fencing and start the work.
Mixing cement

The last week my brother and I have dug about half the posts and got them cemented into the ground and purchased the chain link fence.  I had an unexpected infection in a finger and had to come to the dr for the past couple days then I leave Monday for a week long trek around the country checking on other volunteers food security projects.

Fence posts

More fence posts
As a side note a fellow volunteer has come up with a website about the bitter tomato.  I was co author of the haiku, take a look at the website
My sisters eating lunch