Things are plodding along nicely here. I don’t feel like I have that much to write about these days as life has seemed to settle down and I’m feeling more at home here. Work is picking up and I finally feel like I have things to do which is great. I stopped counting how many weeks I’ve been here which is surely a good sign. It must be because last week I told VSO that I’d like to extend my placement for another six months. Crikey! What am I letting myself in for! I would be due to come home in July but if all goes well I’ll be staying until at least Christmas. It’s all a bit up in the air at the moment though. There are lots of changes happening within VSO and they may be stopping all their education placements and moving on to new things. Hopefully they’ll find something for me to do. I’m not ready to start thinking about coming home yet. All that snow and short dark days don’t seem very appealing funnily enough.
I had a good day yesterday. I’ve been working quite a bit with a head teacher in a
school in the village of Parai Tenda which is about 45 minutes on my bike out of Basse. It’s a small rural school with four classes which is a similar set up to the school my mam works in at home so I thought it would be a good idea to set up a school link with them. It also gives me a good excuse to go around and take some pictures of the school and village which I would normally feel a bit uncomfortable doing. Paria Tenda is a typical village for upcountry Gambia. It’s pretty much self sufficient with no cars, only donkeys and the odd push bike for people to get around in. There are about three little village shops but everything else they need they will produce themselves. There’s no electricity in the village and all water has to be drawn from the water pump in the middle of the village or from your compound well if you’re lucky enough to have one.
I’ve visited lots of schools and villages like this one now and the weird thing is I don’t sorry for the people living there. People don’t have much but they
seem happy. I mean really, I’m not just saying it in with rose tinted glasses on; Gambians are the jolliest people ever! Food is quite plentiful here and everyone looks after each other. The children are free to wander and play where they like in relative safety because the village takes collective responsibility to look after each other. Everything from cooking dinner to collecting water from the pump is a social occasion because it’s all done outside. I think Gambian’s think you’re depressed if you want to have a moment to yourself indoors. The thing I find difficult to understand how they cope with is the boredom. With no money you can’t do anything but sit; all day every day. The women do the household chores and the men brew attaya and that’s about it. You can’t go for a walk, there are no books, there’s nowhere to go. I can’t really comprehend what it must be like. I’d go bonkers! I panic at the thought of days when there isn’t enough power to let my laptop battery last for at least part of the night. It’s totally pathetic!
I think I’d better keep this
all in mind this weekend. Lilli is still down in Kombos and the girls on my compound are going away with their mum to her family village so it might be a bit of a lonely weekend. I’m going to try to think how lucky I am with my shelf of books and a few hours of power to watch a film on my laptop but what’s the bet that I’ll be pacing the room in restless frustration by lunchtime on Saturday!
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