As I mentioned, I am doing a study with a counterpart on women’s health. The counterparts name is Jeneba, and how she became my counterpart was somewhat by accident. I was going to ask the village health worker but he is man so I was really hoping to find a woman interested in medicine since it is a study for women. One day we went over to Luis’s compound for Nescafe (those Spaniards love the Nescafe), and Jeneba was working there – she cleans his compound for him. I started chatting with her and through our conversation discovered she is a Red Cross volunteer who goes for training in Brikama and returns to our village to ‘sensitize’ the women on what she has learned in training. (Gambians love the phrase ‘sensitize’, and love doing ‘sensitizations’) I was so happy to hear this and asked her if she was interested in medicine. She said she was very interested and wants to be a nurse. She told me if she had money she would be in nursing school right now, and she excitedly told me that she had 7 certifications from the Red Cross trainings and that people come to her when they are injured.
I asked her more about school and she said at one point a European lady visited our lodge and told Jeneba that she wanted to help her with her school. She sent the money to the company that helped our village run the lodge and Jeneba never saw any of it. After hearing this, I printed out a list of available scholarships in Gambia from our Peace Corps office. She called the numbers, had no luck, and returned to me saying ‘Here is Gambia, if you don’t know someone, they will not help you’. I asked Solo, our friend/counterpart about it, and he said that yes that is true.
Jeneba is one of few hard working, educated, non-married women in our village. Actually, after writing that – she is the Only educated, working, non-married women in our village at the age of 27. I asked Sibou once why Jeneba wasn’t married and Sibou responded that Jeneba is ‘enjoying life’. Which I guess means trying to go to school and earning money for herself rather than having 5 kids at this time. So, those of you reading this who have some ideas or knowledge of organizations that grant loans or aid to international students, please let me know and we can try to get Jeneba in nursing school.
Jeneba and me at the big naming ceremony
Did I mention, Jeneba loves to dance?