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

Today after breakfast we headed off to the office where we were given a bit of a discussion about development issues and the main reason we are here to do our jobs: assist in the development of the country. This is of primary concern as representatives of VSO. We need to promote local development in our respective positions hopefully by leaving our expertise behind in the people we work with. Many of us are working with counterparts who we are to train in how to do our job so this is a bit easier but others are expected to teach “by example”. We always have to remember we are “in this world but not of it” and that we are here to learn as much as Gambians are to learn from us.

This discussion was followed by a discussion about the Small Projects Fund which is something that VSO has set up to encourage small development projects. This allows VSO volunteers to manage and visit places they might not normally visit during the course of their placement. The types of projects funded includes building buildings, funding craft guilds, paying for water pumps, etc. All of the proposals are vetted and the eventual projects are monitored by volunteers.

We were surprised to learn that all of our money for both our “household allowance” and first three month's pay were given to us in the form of a cheque (no money whatsoever) meaning that we would have to visit a bank quite shortly if we wanted to use it (and, if we need to, open a bank account at the same time). It was not made a lot easier when we were told that if we wanted the money right away we would have to go to the bank were the cheque was written from (in Bakau, about a mile up Atlantic road from the office). A bit of a surprise but it would have been nice to know this in advance so we could have made arrangements to do all of this.

Jane, Chris and I headed off to Westfield where we found a bank just south of the junction where we could open an account. The manager was very pleasant and actually let us take out cash today. He chatted as we handed him our completed forms, talking a bit to Jane about Bansaang (he has family there and he indicated that if Jane wanted money, just let him know and he would bring it up when visiting…). It was very informal but quite pleasant. We all got our little account books with our balance written in (everything is done on paper here though they have A computer…).

⇒ Continue to Day Nineteen - Wednesday, February 13th, 2002 - Fajara - Safari Gardens Hotel