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Travel report by Benedikt and Susanne Geser

After a long time back and forth, we decided to go on vacation to Gambia. The idea of spending 10 days in a hotel complex made us think and we decided to find out something about the country and its people.

Travel report by Benedikt and Susanne Geser

Benedict and Susanne Geser

How we experienced The Gambia

After much deliberation, we decided on The Gambia for our vacation. The idea of spending 10 days in a hotel complex gave us pause for thought and we decided to learn something about the country and its inhabitants. So we spent our first two nights at the Bintang Lodge. The Bintang is a tributary of the Gambia River. Here we were able to observe the wonderful nature and wildlife from the river. We walked through mangrove forests and got to know the people away from tourism. Our second destination was the Rainbow Beach Bar and Lodge in Sanyang. There we met Kerstin Gebhardt, or Aminata as she is called by the locals. We got to know Kerstin through the Hand in Hand portal. As she was in The Gambia at the same time as us, we were able to visit a few projects with her. During our visit to Kitty (women's gardens), we were amazed at how well the wells were working. The water was gushing out of the taps. The electricity for the pump is generated by solar cells. These have to be cleaned regularly in such a dry country with so much dust. Unfortunately, the locals are not aware of this. Some women were gardening, others were enthusiastically harvesting the fruits of their labor. Which they took home with them or sold at the market. In the women's garden were newly planted orange trees, which the Germans buy for €10 each. Each tree receives a name tag from the donor. The orange harvest is then sold and used to pay for repairs to the fence and the water supply. In the evening, we met again for dinner with Kerstin and Grandpa and talked a lot about the country and its people. We agreed that the Chinese are only damaging and exploiting this country with their fish factory and the mining of rare earths. Many small restaurants have no fridge (unimaginable for us). The cook walks to the fish market and buys the fresh produce. Only then does he start cooking. The advantage with Kerstin - she booked us into one of these small restaurants and we had a sensational fish dish. We were also concerned that the price of a bag of rice had risen by 20%, from 1000 Dalasi to 1200. From 1000 Dalasi to 1200, which is an extreme price increase for the people who earn around 2500 Dalasi a month.

The visit to the Ousmanbun Afan School brought surprises not only for us. Unfortunately, we had to learn that poverty and hunger drive people to rash acts. The teachers' room at the school was broken into. The door and the cupboard were forced open and bent. The perpetrators were not aware that they would not find any money or other stolen goods of interest to them. So “only” the damage to property and the uneasy feeling in the stomach remain. The teachers and pupils were in the middle of lessons when we arrived. The classes were very full. Three children often had to share a school desk that was meant for two children. There was no denying that the classrooms were overcrowded. When the school bell (an old car rim) rang, the schoolyard was teeming with children. Unfortunately, the well in the school was not dug deep enough. As a result, it has run out of water shortly after the rainy season. We were able to witness how Kerstin patiently tried to solve the problem and make it clear that money is not inexhaustible. We had just bought plates and pots for the school. So that the children can be offered a free lunch.

The next day our trip took us to a hotel on Kairaba Beach where we ended our vacation and talked a lot about what we had experienced.

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