Kortanantay (Mandinka greeting meaning “Is there peace?”),

Last week and so far this week we’ve had a really great experience at the West African Community Development Training Centre (WACD-TC). The style is quite different from any courses I’ve taken before, since the course consists mainly of discussing, presenting and working in small groups. While the course material will be very beneficial for any person wanting to do development work (course modules are: Effective Groups, Gender and Development, and Conflict Management and Peacebuilding), the best part so far for me has been to interact with the other participants in the course (all fourteen-ish of them are Gambian) and to learn from them about their culture, their views and how best to work with people in The Gambia.

One thing that has struck me so far is how important traditions, and showing respect for those traditions, are here, especially in the rural areas. For example, if a development worker wanted to do some work in a rural village, he would need to first go and greet the village head, and the village elders. After getting to know each other for a little while, they would ask him why he was visiting them, then he could tell them about what he wanted to do. Once he has shown that he respects them, the work would be able to get done, and the villagers would be eager to help. However, if he did not show the proper respect, they would see him as arrogant, and not want to work with him, even if the work would benefit them. This can seem quite different to some places back home where as long as you get the job done well it doesn’t matter how respectful you are.

The course ends next Friday, June 3rd, after that we will resume work with Soil and Water Management Services.

That is all I’m going to write about for now.  I have a few more things I want to talk about but I think they will have to wait for now.

The next post will be up soon!

Tanantay (There is peace),

Dawda (my Gambian name)