Long time no see!

Dear followers,


We hope you all had a wonderful holiday and the Mala team wishes you a happy new year! Time flies by when you are having fun. In only 20 days our flight will leave again back to the Netherlands…. At that point we have to leave behind our Gambian Family, yes family because that is what this country gives you. But let us not rush, we still have three weeks left to create wonderful memories and make our project a success. We apologize for not posting for such a long time, but Senegal offered too much distractions! In this blog post we will tell you all about the past four weeks and the upcoming three.


The last time we posted was a few days before we went to NAYCONF in Base. In these days we worked really hard on our entrepreneurship manual and we made sure we prepared the first lesson on the 18th of December. For all the students we bought a pen, a notebook and a flipchart for their business model canvas, to be able to participate immediately. The lesson was a really fun and also useful experience for us. We got a lot of feedback from the students and the teachers, which we can use, for the preparation of our next lessons and the final manual. During the vacation we gave them an assignment and we are very curious about the outcome. Tomorrow we will continue with our second lesson. We are excited to see how this workshop is going to contribute to the education of the girls at Presentation Girls Vocational School in Banjul.


After the first lesson in Banjul we rushed to take the bus to Basse in Serrekunda. After a bus ride of almost nine hours we finally arrived at NAYCONF in Basse. To refresh your minds, this is a national youth conference where almost 2000 young people from different regions gather for youth empowerment related events and cultural events. We were welcomed with open arms by the program manager of National Youth Council. During our five days at the festival we followed the conference during the day and watched the cultural and sport related events at night.


The conference was divided in different thematic classes. Every class was required to come up with three main objectives concerning their theme that needed to take place. Eventually all the classes presented their outcomes at the last day of the conference in a big conference room. There were not only students present, as we thought before, but also already started young entrepreneurs and all organizations involved in youth empowerment. It was very useful for us to see these organizations in action, instead of just having an interview with them.


At the conference we joined the class focusing on youth employment and entrepreneurship. Together with the students and starting entrepreneurs we had some serious discussions about the topic and we even helped with finding the three main objectives of our class. We learned so much of our fellow students in our class, not only about the theme of the class but also the culture and mindset of the Gambian people. Beside the information we got from our ‘classmates’, we also handed out approximately 100 questionnaires among all the people joining the conference during the presentations. Overall Basse was a wonderful and very useful experience to our project, but also to us as individuals. The conference gave us so much more insight than any other interview or website or article could have done. We were one of the students; we were there to experience it with our own eyes. It was wonderful and we are very glad that we were invited to this amazing event!


After leaving Basse it was vacation time! We traveled to Kuntaur to pick up our friends from project Domo and together with them we traveled to Senegal. Our journey started in Mbour where we also celebrated Christmas! We cooked, had presents and even a Gambian style Christmas tree! Eventually we stayed six nights in Mbour (two different villas). From Mbour we made several day trips to for example Fadiout, Ndangne and Kaolack. From Mbour we traveled to Dakar. In Dakar we spent four nights and celebrated Lisanne’s birthday and New Years Eve! Next to these two big events (including a party of course), we also visited some really interesting and mesmerizing places such as Ille de Goree and the pink lake (which really is pink!). From Dakar we traveled to Touba, where we visited one of the biggest Mosques of West Africa. After Touba we traveled to our final destination; Toubacouta. Here we did some beautiful nature related trips like a pirogue trip to the mangroves and a safari in Fathalla Park. Although traveling with six different people is never easy, we created a vacation that all six of us enjoyed. We had a wonderful time and it is sad that we are separated again for now…. We will see each other soon though!


We returned to Tanji this Saturday night and today the hard work started again. The next three weeks will be all about teaching, final interviews and typing, typing, typing, typing….. It is going to be three crazy busy weeks, but we are going to work as hard as we can to bring this project to a good end! We will update our blog soon, promised this time!


Lots of love,


The Mala Team