I mentioned I would eventually get around to some throwback travel posts. These come from another blog I attempted .
For the most part I am leaving these posts in their original format. My writing then was a lot more info dump, but still fun to look back on!
July 2014 – The Gambia
In addition to the work that Americans are doing in the country, Gambians, themselves, are building up one another as well. The Embassy has a weekly radio show, hosted by our public affairs officer, Josh. He brings on NGOs, other civil society organizations, or inspiring young people and provides a national platform to share their message, inspiration, and encourage other youth to join them or start something new. It makes Thursdays my favorite day.
On the show, we’ve had OneSight, BRESDI, and YPM. OneSight provides free eye exams and eye & sun glasses for only D250 ($6)! It’s almost unbelievable. They train Gambians to be optometrists and clinic staff and provide them with state of the art equipment. They are even able to perform outpatient cataract surgery. OneSight has been able to open clinics in hospitals all over the country and now people can have quality eye care out in the provinces and don’t have to make the trip out to Banjul or the Kombos (urban area). YPM, Young People in the Media, teaches people how to use social media to promote themselves and express their ideas, but isn’t a journalistic group.
Freedom of the press is very limited in this country, so they tend to stay away from that, but they focus more on showcasing talents and speaking out for the rights of women and children in a means to empower them to take control of their own destiny. The former president is a star. Radiant and personable, she has such a drive and has traveled the world speaking at conferences on media rights. BRESDI is, and will always be my favorite. BRESDI stands for Ba’lal Rural Empowerment and Sustainable Development Initiative. Ba’lal is a Fula word that means helping. They teach IT skills (for free!) and devise ways to provide employment to rural youth in the Lower River Region.
What I love most about them is their spirit, commitment to their community and willingness to push past the obstacles to reach their goal. They often pool together their own money to help cover the cost of computers or other services and are consistently innovating. Even though, the internet and power infrastructure in the provinces is a struggle, they manage to make it work. How they manage to do so much with so little is beyond me. The same goes for everybody in the provinces. Extensive farmwork with traditional tools is such strenuous labor, yet they do it year after year. But I guess necessity will do that to you. Each group has spoken with such raw passion and direct encouragement. No fluff. And I love it.