This is probably the hardest blog entry I had to write and I had to spend a long time reflecting as to why. Certainly my time here in The Gambia has been eventful, my weekends are filled with trips to markets, beach days, trips to Banjul (the country’s capital), trips up-country, boat trips on The Gambian river around the mangroves, and buying fabric to make dresses for ‘African dress day’ on Fridays.
I guess I am finding it so difficult to write because, after 3 months of living here, most of my days seem to have lost that special feeling one gets when one experiences ‘something new’.
It no longer seems noteworthy that I visit Old Jeshwang market every Sunday to buy my weekly veg, rice, and chicken. It now seems commonplace that before you begin work in our head office, first you greet everyone with a ‘Good morning’ and a handshake. I have gotten so used to hearing the Islamic Morning Call to Prayer and the roosters (which quickly and loudly follow) in the morning that I don’t even wake-up anymore…okay, well, the roosters still wake me up, but I can easily fall back to sleep now.
The most obvious example of my integration into the normalcy of Gambian life is from this past weekend when I rode my bike 27km to check out a Nature Lodge I had been dying to see. I had to laugh at myself while casually manoeuvring around vehicles, Bush taxis, other bicyclists, and pedestrians on the Brikama highway – this was not something I would have thought I was capable of doing safely when I first arrived.
I am grateful for ACIC asking us to write these blogs. It has given me a chance to stop and reflect on all the small things that have changed in my daily routine, to which now I have become so accustomed to. It has also given me a chance to reflect and be thankful for the work that I am doing at Nova Scotia – Gambia Association. When I first arrived, I was asked by the Country Director to write the organisation’s Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Plan for the next 3 years. ‘Incredible opportunity’ doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel about this task.
Now, as I am about to spend the next three months implementing and piloting the M&E plan – I will stop taking all the other small experiences for granted.
…who knows, one day I might even miss those roosters.
Danielle Howe is working with the Nova Scotia Gambia Association in Kanifing, Gambia.