“Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits” could well describe my position at the weekend when I realized I had no inspiration for my blog this week. The quote sprang easily to mind although until I searched the internet I had no idea where it had originated, and when I found out the source (Satchel Paige, an American baseball player) I was still no wiser, and still no nearer a subject for this column, so perhaps a brief summary of my recent activities will serve.

Last week the Department of Agriculture held a four-day Training of Trainers workshop for about sixty extension staff from West Coast Region in the nearby town of Brikama . It is an annual refresher course to remind them of things they have forgotten, bring them up to date with new ideas, and teach them a few new skills in different areas. It was only on the way to Brikama on the first morning that I was informed that my role was to be the “reporter”, so I spent the next four days making notes of all that occurred and have just finished writing the report.


A full lecture hall


Hawawu just finishing her Agribusiness presentation


Kang Saikou Ceesay leading a practical session of marking out beds and keeping square using Pythagoras theorem

Reports are very important out here, although their function often seems to be as much about thanking sponsors or congratulating someone on a job well done as about accurately noting what took place. I have also noted that they are often verbose, long winded affairs, and it sometimes seems that the quality of a report is judged by it’s weight, so I frequently find myself urging my colleagues to be brief and concise in their composition. In the event, my own report has ended up much longer than I would have liked – twelve pages of A4, and then nearly doubled in size by the appendices attached so perhaps I will be judged to have submitted something worthwhile!  It is the longest report I have written since I came here and I have now submitted a copy to the Director for his comments. For my own part I think I have presented an accurate and balanced picture of the proceedings along with a number of comments and recommendations for the future based partly on feedback from the evaluation forms completed by participants, and partly on my own personal impressions. I have noticed that such reports usually concentrate on achievements and successes and fail to mention any shortcomings, so I will be interested to see how my recommendations are received!

It had taken me a large part of the day on Saturday to collate my notes into the first draft and I had nothing planned for the weekend so I was delighted to receive a text from another volunteer informing me that they were planning to meet at the beach on Sunday. I hadn’t been down there recently, and in fact had never been to the particular beach they named, but spent a relaxing few hours down there in the afternoon with my housemate and friends, swimming, lazing on the sand, and catching up on the news from the other volunteers.


Dr Joe and Abdou


It’s a hard life in the Gambia!

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