Me on a Hill in Bansang (Central River Division)

2003 - A Year in Review

2003 Country of Living: The Gambia (West Africa)

Rains: Saturday, June 7th 10:30 pm to Sunday, October 26th 10:00 am

This has been yet another year of challenges though not terribly demanding in terms of travel. It has also been a year of thinking about the future with my decision to extend…


I am continuing the placement I have here in The Gambia with many different things happening over the year including:

  • Deciding to Extend my Stay in The Gambia - I have decided to continue my work here in The Gambia from the original end date of January 2004 to the end of July (possibly even longer). This is because much of the work I am trying to do is being delayed due to funding or personnel issues…
  • Arrival of Computer Equipment - The big purchase of computer equipment for the project I am working on came through so we spent some time installing them throughout the country. This was quite rewarding as many people were very happy to be receiving the equipment. There were many problems with both the local agent that supplied the equipment along with the equipment itself not working quite the way it should be we are well on our way to having those problems solved.

Handing Over New Computer Equipment (Basse, Upper River Division)

  • Moving to Temporary Offices - Always intended as a temporary measure this turned out to be more permanent than many anticipated when the funding for the renovations we were supposed to have to our old offices never came through (due to numerous delays/reallocations). The offices are not really on the best side of town…
  • Computer Equipment Stolen - Coming into our temporary offices one morning we noticed that the screen was missing from a window and when we went inside we found (to our great aggravation) that a number of new computers we had purchased had been taken. This is despite our asking for a night watchman before we even moved in (which is still not provided, even though I offered to help pay for it). I think the most disturbing thing about the theft was that it was actually money from a loan to the government – so, in effect, whoever stole it stole from themselves or, at the very least, their children.

On a personal note, my sister gave birth to her second son on June 26th, Simon Porter Cade, who is, by all accounts, a terribly chubby baby (8lbs at birth!). Regrettably, it looks like I will not be meeting him for some time yet…


My travel has been pretty much confined to The Gambia though I did manage to make it to Senegal two times – Once with my mother in March/April and the other with another volunteer in October when we just HAD to get away…! Spent that weekend in a very nice hotel in Dakar and enjoyed the air-conditioning/television/pool and very good food on offer in the city. Both of the visits we used the bus from The Gambia which turned out to be not that bad though it is a long trip…When my mother and I took it, it was about 10 hours (it is normally supposed to be about 5)!

When mother visited we managed to get on a cruise down the river Gambia (see my story about it here) from Tendaba Camp to Janjanbureh Camp which took three days. It was a very relaxing experience – My mother says it is the most relaxed she has ever been!

Christmas/New Years

It was with great reluctance that I decided to stay in The Gambia for Christmas as I really wanted to go back to Canada to visit my family for the holidays (and my new nephew!) but this was not to be due to various reasons, mostly financial. Despite my reluctance the holidays proved to be very enjoyable in The Gambia with many events including a roast turkey dinner that I put on in my neighbours compound (thanks Ria!) for Christmas Eve. I spent New Years in Kartung, just north of the southern-most point of The Gambia on the ocean where we had a fantastic meal and celebrated with fireworks on the beach (along with a fire).

Please find a bit of an article I have written for the VSO newsletter here.

Next Year

With any luck I will be able to move on from The Gambia to new and better horizons after I finish. I am currently planning on either re-volunteering with VSO or volunteering with the United Nations Volunteers ( through their UNITeS ( program which provides IT volunteers. My mother is visiting for three weeks in March after which I will be returning with her to the UK for two weeks (I get a free flight back to the UK since I am extending). It would be nice to be able to visit Mali before I go, but this is not yet set…

Visit here for my review of 2002.