A ride back to The Gambia!
After almost four weeks in Senegal, Peace Corps The Gambia volunteers will be returning to our villages tomorrow. It’s been a crazy month for both The Gambia and for Peace Corps, with inaugurations in both countries that have caused some serious upheaval. The Gambian political drama has bounced in and out of the media, but here are a few good articles about what’s been going on:
- CNN: Gambia: Why there’s political turmoil in this small African nation
- BBC: Gambian army chief joins in President Barrow celebrations
- NPR: After standoff, Gambia awaits arrival of new President
- The New York Times: Why Democracy Prevailed in The Gambia
- Africa News: ECOWAS forces in The Gambia seize weapons from Jammeh’s home
This is a really special time to be a Peace Corps volunteer in The Gambia. Things in the country have been very stagnant for the past 22 years, and now a democratic transition of power has lit a fire that can burn the complacency away. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps in The Gambia, we will be able to witness and assist with the transition into the “New” Gambia. In Peace Corps, we work a lot with behavior change – using bed nets, planting vegetables, getting kids to do their homework – and now the country itself is primed for countless behavior changes, starting with the government.
Throughout our time in Senegal, we’ve had a unique opportunity to interact and network with the 90 volunteers who have been serving in The Gambia since as early as 2013. Learning about projects, making new connections, joining committees and getting to know staff members better has all been invaluable. We’ve been very safe, getting daily reports from our Country Director and from the embassies in both The Gambia and Senegal. We’ve even been able to hang out with a lot of Peace Corps Senegal volunteers – comparing Peace Corps experiences from countries that are so close to each other.
I’m not going to say that it’s all been amazing – the past four months have been an emotional roller coaster that is going to keep going as we enter back into our villages. We’ve been in and out of training villages, permanent sites, training centers in Senegal, and now back to permanent sites. Throughout it all, the Gambian people and staff have been incredible. When I talked to my host family while in Senegal, they were always very happy about my safety but eager and willing for me to come home. The next few weeks will have its challenges, but with the help of my host family and my Peace Corps friends it will all be okay. Thank you for all of your support over the past few weeks – my next blog will be from The Gambia!