Thursday, July 1, 2010

Working 9 to 5..African style

Ah, it’s good to be a working woman again, albeit on a volunteer basis. I confess that I tossed and turned a fair bit last night – a combination of the four-hour long torrential tropical thunderstorm beating down on the tin roof of my bungalow room, and nerves at the thought of having to train four smart Gambians on the vagaries of PowerPoint, not something I am truly au fait with.

But after a brain enhancing breakfast of fresh fruit – the mangoes here are possibly the best in the world – I was striding off along Kairaba Avenue, backpack secured, sneakers churning up the blood-red sandy earth in my wake and a head full of positive thought.

And after Dubai’s general apathy and my own indulgent malaise it is already refreshing to be meeting people who dispel the African stereotype and who are completely committed to their country and its untapped potential.

The team at the Association of Small Scale Entrepreneurs in Tourism (ASSET) are the new breed of go-getter that Gambia needs to re-energise its tourism offering. Working out of a converted villa in a quiet side street ASSET may be light on resources but is rich with enthusiasm.

Badou and Ndimbalan were first up for training and I emerged from their resource centre over six hours later really feeling that I had helped to expand their already impressive knowledge base with a small insight into slide-based presentations. OK, it’s hardly going to change the world in the long run, but their passion and eagerness really made it a pleasure to help out.
It also helped in making me forget about taking a lunch break which is a definite bonus, as after just three days I am already starting to like the traditional Gambian dish of domoda (a rich groundnut sauce-based concoction slathered over chicken, beef or vegetables) a little too much for my hips’ liking...

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