Sunday, 30 December 2012


The Walls Go Up!!

Universal Construction Requirement: Break time

Mixing the Cement Paste

Building A future for access to education, brick by brick!

Working Hard!

Getting there, almost?

Stay tuned for more pictures as we continue to build!

Because he's cute.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

naata karangbuno dokuuwo (come work on the school!)

 First materials purchased and in storage! (August 2012)

 Day One of Tractor usage to collect sand for concrete mixing!!

 Cement + sand = bricks
 Brick making

Laying out and digging the foundation! (September 2012)

Helping dig! Yes, I did it too :)

A student, Salifo, from my favorite class (Wurokang grade 4) out to help do small boy tasks!

Host brother and I helping by brewing attaya.

 Can we dig it?
 Yes we can!

Stay tuned for more pictures from the ongoing building process and other cultural musings!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Ali be san na! Let's go shopping!

A bit ago, I posted in an effort to raise money for a school project, building a classroom!  Thanks to everyone who donated so quickly! 

In many of the thank you notes I just sent out, I wrote that we hoped to have a meeting and plan the next steps soon because I was unsure of when this meeting would take place.  However, it took place the very next day and I can happily report that the project is officially under way!! 

At the meeting, there was much discussion about whether to build at the current school site, or at a new plot of land that they have secured for the school.  Good reasons to build at the current site included that there were already temporary classrooms in place and one class wouldn't have to be going to the other site with the rest at the current location.  Good reasons to build at the new site included that there was much more room (more conducive to a full on school than the other site), no baobob trees (these are all over at the current site making a school layout difficult and they are also unsafe because they are old, hallowed out and could fall down).  A decision was made to check with the regional department of education on their opinion.  At this point, I think the village is leaning towards building at the new site.  This makes the most sense to me because eventually, many classrooms will need to be built.  The current site will remain as the nursery school until that can be moved as well.  Also debated at the meeting was when to shop.  We decided to shop THE VERY NEXT DAY, as the village worked their connections to get a truck that was only available that week to transport the materials to village.  After the long day of discussion, my host dad, two other men from village, and I went down to Kombo to shop for building materials at all of the whole salers.  After a long day of negotiation, all the materials we needed to begin building were bought on-budget.  Future purchases will have to be made, but a good chunk was spent.

I go back to village tomorrow to check in what the plan is for a building/construction timeline.  They were eager and the materials have been transported, so maybe something has already begun!!  At this point, it feels like 'slowly, slowly' has become 'quickly, quickly'.

I'll continue to post here (and include pictures!) with all future progress, so keep checking in! It was you who made this possible!

man moy.

Literally 'not hear'.  Also, 'not understand'.   A go-to phrase for me in village.  Sometimes I think my language is improving, other times it's not.  Recent my cluster monitor told me it hasn't because of my sister, Nyima who always helps me by translating.  She moves to Kombo soon for senior secondary school.  I think I'll be just as lost language wise.  And I'll be bored a lot more often.  But enough about language, that will be a constant strugggle.  I wrote this post to tell two random, kind of funny stories, about not hearing, listening or understanding.

ONE:   It was the last week of school, so nothing was happening-learning wise.  We were preparing for an awards ceremony so the students were out and about and there were chairs out all over the school grounds.  I was sitting, waiting for things to begin but got antsy.  I got up (left my waterbottle behind) to go and try to find something to do...  When I came back to the spot, I found my host brother Buba (grade 5, about 11) fighting with another boy.  They were shouting a stream of words I did not understand and two I did:  'bottle' and 'drink'.  The other student was shouting at me that Buba had drank my water, all the meanwhile they were fighting each other.  Being scrawny 11 year old boys, I was able to pull them apart and bring them to the head master's office.  I told the head teacher that I thought they were fighting over my water but wasn't sure exactly what happened.  He got the full story out of them in Mandinka.  In the end, they were both trying to make sure my bottle was not taken or abused in any way.  Fighting each other to look out for me.  I'll try not to leave my bottle around anymore.  Thankfully, my headmaster is great and simply talked to them about how that wasn't a reason to be fighting.

The next story requires knowledge of my least favorite Gambian habit:  hissing to get attention.  Hate it.

TWO:  I was down in Kombo and doing errands on a very, very rainy day.  There were puddles everywhere.   Gambians, in general are very helpful and friendly.  However, in Kombo or bigger villages especially, there is an extent of harassment of getting attention to get something out of you, so I often have my guard up and my 'not listening ears' on.  On this particular day, many Gambians were either hissing at me or trying to get my attention in much nicer ways, shouting 'hole; hole'.  Sometimes, I listened and walked around where they were pointing. Other times, I didn't, inner dialogue being 'it's just a flippin' puddle, my feet can handle it'.  Most of the time I was safe.  At one point, I kept avoiding puddles and avoiding puddles but finally had to cross one to get to the street again to cross to wear I needed to be.  It seemed there was nowhere else to go and many people were shouting 'hole, hole' at me.  I went for it...

I ended up waist deep in water.  I got out, kind of hung my head, but also laughed a lot and tried to maintain an "I meant to do that" face.  Maybe next time I'll listen, every time.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Projects Update

Check out my school! And donate to help us build a classroom! How to donate:
1) go to
2) Scroll down a little, on the left there is a tab for "Donate to volunteer projects"
3) Search by either typing in "Budde"  or "635-080" (My project number)  Only one choice should come up titled "School Expansion project"
4) Type the amount in the box and follow further instructions.

Also-If you just want to check it out, there is a longer description talking about the project that you can read by searching the project!!

The Main Building

Temporary Classroom 1

Temporary Classroom 2
Eager to learn

More grade 1s working hard!

Help these smiling faces out!

They also kind of love having their picture taken, even though they are so serious.

tilo wo tilo

After a year (give or take a few days) in country, remembering to blog and finding topics to blog about is hard.  Months ago, things became routine.  You fantasize about an experience and all the new things you'll do. And at first, those things are new and exciting. Then those things become commonplace.  Even in a more every day move from state to state or city to city, this rings true.  It is easy to get lost in routine, so I try to find something new each day. Or just smile longer, because that makes days better too. 

However, sometimes new things still happen on their own.  A few weeks ago, I attended a naming ceremony with an older host sister that happened to be in town (she usually lives in Kombo). I'm glad she was there because nobody else on the compound brought me along!  That may be because other times I go to such functions I typically leave not long after arriving.  As I was walking around the compound of the ceremony, greeting others, with Fatou (the sister that brough me along), I saw one of my host moms, Mariama, with breakfast porridge poured all over her.  Fatou explained to me that when a woman has had multiple miscarriages, they will give her 'mono kuwo': A porridge bath, (as well as a prayer) which makes God happy and the hope is that in the future she will be able to have a baby.  From my viewpoint as observer and learner of the culture and customs, it was interesting to see a clear example of the intersection of traditions that remain from Animism to the Islamic customs and beliefs now in place.  From my viewpoint as "adopted toubob (white person) daughter", it made me understand this host mom a little bit more.  She had always seemed a little bit sad to me and I never knew why.  Now, I try to give her extra smiles and keep her in my own prayers.

Monday, 5 March 2012


Gambian Kids:  Not the baby goat kind, those warrant a blog post of their own; the children kind.  The one thing I do remember my kindergarten teacher teaching me, Grandma Budde, is that a kid is a baby goat.  I know you are reading on Jesus' or Steve Jobs' personal iPad.  And it probably has an app where you can watch my doings live.

Anyway, back to the Gambian children.  For the most part, the little ones, especially the ones I know, are the favorite part of my day.  I'm pretty bad at hiding my favorites too, though I try.  Even on the worst days, the kids on my compound can make me crack a smile.  If there is one thing I have a lot of over here, it's thinking time.  Recently, that thinking time has been devoted to thinking about how the kids play.  Early on in my service, I had heard somebody say that Gambian kids don't often play or have fun.  However, the kids in my compound definitely play and have fun, especially the littlest ones.

Refreshing ways I have seen children playing over here:
  • Making Mudpies/ Sculptures
  • Pretending to cook
  • Playing and Building with the Jenga blocks (supplied by me)
Now, these are all familiar to parents and grown children all over the world.  Maybe even especially so before technology.  Another familiar game they play (and one of my personal favorites when I was younger) is playing school.  However, it takes on adifferent form that disturbs me a little bit.  As some of you reading already know, one of my big challenges in school is dealing with corporal punishment.   It becomes even more evident how ingrained when my 3 year old host brother, Ebrima, is playing teacher and has a small stick that he uses on his friends yelling 'keep quiet'.  When this happens, I usually take the stick away and say "Hani Butee-No beating"  Maybe, even if he doesn't remember me after I leave, the message will come across and he will one day be a teacher that doesn't beat.  All I can do is hope!

In other news:  Real life donkeys are more Eeyore, less Donkey (as in from Shrek).  That reference would flow a lot better if Eddie Murphy had insisted on a more creative character name.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Back, Kind Of.

It's been awhile and I've been having major 'bloggers block' lately, and it's still weird to be a blogger.  Like in life, I've been having ups and downs and many challenges at site.  I took a trip into the Kombo region, hung out with fellow PCVs, and feel refreshed and ready to go back to site.. kind of.   Today I head back (Happy Valentine's, by the way) and wait for a meeting with the 'construction monitor' of the region for schools.  I am beginning a bigger project and will give more details via blog as the project evolves, or doesn't, if it so happens that it doesn't. 

Sorry for the absence, and if you're a reader leave your thoughts and ideas (things you want to hear about) to help combat my writer's block. 

Love from the Gambia,