In August 2003 I began my journey to West Africa. I travelled from Nova Scotia, Canada to The Gambia, and as soon as my plane touched down, I felt a change in my Self.
I spent nearly five months living and working in the country. I was a “Development Worker” with VSO Canada who had mixed feelings about my goals and presence.
I took on an IT teacher role, successfully educating thirty women about computers (women who had never used a keyboard or mouse previously), and I designed one of The Gambia’s main hospital’s web sites in order to help with funding.
My experience wasn’t easy. Being a white woman brought immediate attention, and it was impossible to blend in. The transportation was different, the food was different, the religion, the language, the smells, the houses, the animals, the social structure- everything was opposite than what I was used to. And on the days that I didn’t hate it, I loved it.
Though I’ll likely never do development work again (at least not in the IT field), I do not regret my decision to go to The Gambia. I have very strong views about Westerners in Developing Countries, and if you read through my diary, you will experience my highs and lows.
You can either start from the beginning of my journey or the end. The middle is what’s most interesting though.