In June, I had the opportunity to help another volunteer coordinate a trek across the country with World Food Program (WFP) and the Ministry of Agriculture. The trek was to train head gardeners in schools participating in the WFP school garden program. WFP provides schools with fencing, tools, seeds, training, and books. This trek went to all 5 regions in the Gambia where we trained participants on the following: garden prep, composting, Moringa, live fencing, incorporating the garden into lesson plans, nutrition in the garden, pest control, action plans, and record keeping. I helped co-manage the trek which entailed teaching sessions, distributing per diems, keeping time, and coordinating the guest lectures. The trek was two days at each region and lasted 10 days. It was a lot of fun seeing the whole country and hanging out with volunteers I don’t normally get to see at site, but afterwards I was completely exhausted!
The sessions I led were on Moringa, live fencing, and incorporating the garden into lesson plans. Another more informal task I had was to keep my Gambian counterparts on subject. Most Gambians are gifted speakers and can talk at length about any subject at anytime, and are often more than willing to do so. This can often allow speakers to get completely off topic and go on for any amount of time given. I had to constantly remind speakers to remain on topic and of time restraints. To give good examples of this, I kept a list of quotes that were said at some point during our 10 day trek:
This is the worldwide web. Nobody would be mad enough to put something untrue on here!
All work and no play make jack a nonsensical girl….or boy.
Hunger is a 3rd religion challenging Christianity and Islam – and football too, is challenging.
We dissolved 4 cubes of jumbo (a bouillon cube) in water and a donkey drank it and was immediately castrated.
Pest control lesson: You can use birds to peck insects.
Spain is going. Greece is gone. France is going down! You will all have to be farmers.
To drink cold water is bad for your diet, but hot water is okay.
Using a rake can increase children’s ‘Psycho Moto’ Skills.
Inexplicably hostile live fencing argument: There is nothing more beautiful than watching a tree grow.
You can’t make this stuff up!
My favorite story from the trek was when I went to see how the bed preparation was going and found my counterpart and participants chopping down a tree. I arrived at the moment where the tree was falling and watched about 5 grown men dive out of the way. I said, “Mr.Barry, Why?!” and he responds quite passionately, “We need the seeds Kaddy! They will take them back and they will plant them!”
Mr.Barry avidly teaching garden bed preparation