Day Seventeen - Monday, February 11th, 2002 - Fajara - Safari Gardens Hotel

After breakfast we had our first session on gender issues which was very good with a representative from a local woman's group giving her perspective on various issues (including the one that always seems to come up when our group talks about this: FGM). It was a bit rude though that some people from the hotel were talking very loudly outside of the room where we were talking as they got their breakfast even though they could see (and hear) that we were having a meeting. I can only assume that either 1) they did not know there was a meeting taking place or 2) they were being very rude. It was a bit awkward since the nature of the talk was quite important and sensitive. We had a great discussion in small groups about various gender issues including the importance of “political correctness”.

Well, we saw our houses today. We were taken in a group to see ours houses, those of us living in the Kanifing area (just north and east of the hotel). They all look pretty good though some of us are going to have to wait for things to be done to them. We bumped along the side roads as we attempted to find the various houses but Ebrima knew where he was going. Most of the houses need something or another done to them but they are all not too bad. I think Gemma has a bit of a difficult situation since she will actually not be moving into her house beside Chris for quite some time since the person currently in it is not scheduled to leave for another few weeks yet. She is having to stay elsewhere until then. Philips house is on the edge of what is known as the “waste land” and it is exactly that – a bit open area of scrub land beside the stadium (with a big new road running through the middle) that serves as a dumping ground for rubbish since garbage collection is not a priority for the local government. He has a bit of a rat problem because of this so that is something that VSO is working on getting fixed. Other than that, his house is alone in his compound with lots of large fruit trees all around the house (within the compound).

I was supposed to have dinner with Chris who is working for the government as well (the Department of State for Education, I am working for the Department of State for Health in the Planning Unit) but he was unable to attend so I headed off with a few others and we ate at a small place just down Pipeline (the main road running east and west in Kanifing and Fajara). It was a small lebanese-run establishment that serves a pretty good Falafal (and, for us very importantly, at a good price).

Philip was able to get another room so he left me today (was it something I said?). I am alone in my room now, which is probably just as well as I have those bed-bugs from Sanyang. Yesterday we very carefully sprayed the room with bug spray (from both the hotel and Jane – who uses it in her room every night) to attempt to get rid of them and done again today so, hopefully, this has done the trick.

⇒ Continue to Day Eighteen - Tuesday, February 12th, 2002 - Fajara - Safari Gardens Hotel