Three weeks in a another world – three weeks in Afrika

First time out of Germany.

The first time without family and friends within reach.

The first flight …and then directly to Africa.

“Did you perhaps overestimate yourself a little?”

There are not even houses here …at least nothing that I would call houses. Semi-finished building ruins, corrugated iron huts and everywhere so frightening a lot of garbage.

I had imagined it differently.

At the beginning of my planned semester in The Gambia I found – to be honest – everything quite horrible. The garbage, the stench, the heat. At the beginning I didn’t know how well I would get along with Pierre-Victor, James, Manlafi, Mamie and the other teachers at Sannehmentereng School. That we would celebrate together in the evening, eating and going to church. And that they would quickly become not only super committed colleagues for me, but first and foremost good friends with whom I still have contact.

Another good friend is Wandi, who took us in his taxi to the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Joyehto’s Beach Bar is the name of the beach bar where he works. There are palm trees, huge shells, sunsets right behind the ocean and waves up to three meters high. On some days you should even see dolphins.

I would never have thought how hard it would be in the beginning to get my way in Grade 1 and Nursery 1 against 35 noisy, turned up and partly not a word of English speaking kids. And I never would have thought how much they would grow on me in the short time and how hard it would be for me to say goodbye again.

The trainee house with the birds under the roof, the flexible power supply, the permanently clogged shower, the giant insects that somehow always found their way through the mosquito screens and the ant colony under the oven, with which we fought a constant war for our food, has also become a bit like a home. Just like Lamin and Ibrima, our Watchmen, who chivalrously protected us from all insects, became a bit like family.

Like family is Hatab, the coordinator, who was always there for us and without whom we would really have been lost in the first week.

After 3 weeks, 6 months earlier than planned, we are sitting in the plane back to Germany. Too early. The time here was too short. I could have done so much more and experienced so much more.

I had imagined it differently.

Photo Evening Experience Gambia in Dortmund on 12.10.18

On October 12, 2018 I presented the impressions and experiences of our trip in March this year at Café Lebensart, Dortmund. Many photos, little films and stories generated enormous interest among the 60 participants. Below you can see the agenda sketched on a flip chart. The travel report can be read on the association’s website under News.

The group of drummers around Anke Filipiak, Leben mit Musik, accompanied the evening very rhythmically and atmospheric.

Karin Neumüller, from the board, had travelled especially from Amberg. Among other things, she actively supported us in answering the visitors’ many questions. And my daughter Miriam, after Karin’s instruction at the Gambian table, diligently handed over woodcarvings and articles sewn by our tailor in Gambia against donations.

The team of Ina Oettinghaus, club member and owner of the Lebensart Café, fed the visitors with many delicious cakes and a red lentil soup, so that nobody had to go home hungry.

And in a few months the 3rd part follows. With this in mind, many greetings from Dortmund,


Heike Hagemann


A new school year begins

Also in Gambia the long summer holidays have come to an end and school life started again. The last days of the holidays were used by the caretakers, the carpenters and the cooks to renew the fly screens and window frames of the classrooms and to free the classrooms from the dust of the holidays. Also the coordinator Mr. Beyai helped and relentlessly painted the wood for the window frames. Most of the girls and boys could hardly wait for the start of the new school year on 17.09. and were proud to attending a higher class. Director Mr. Jatta welcomed all students and reminded them how important mutual respect is for a successful school day. Afterwards, the director welcomed the new Nursery 1 students who entered the school with their parents. After Mr. Jatta explained some of the school’s rules and stressed the importance of punctuality and proper school uniforms, the little ones were assigned to the two classes and started their first day of school. Full of pride they left the school grounds at the end of the school day with the new uniforms, which had already been sewn at the SkillCenter before the holidays.  In the meantime, everyday life has returned and pupils and teachers are striving for good learning. Starting from 01.10. the school will be supported by our two new interns Laura and Hannah. I was very happy to experience the first school day at the Sannehmentereng Lower Basic School this year and wish Laura and Hannah also a good “school start” in Gambia.


(former intern)

Welcome to the Hutzelhof courtyard

The association “Socialis for The Gambia e.V.” was again pleased to receive an invitation from the Hutzelhof farmer to the Hutzelhoffest on 16. 09.2018. Committed members and board members were happy to present products from The Gambia.

For a donation interested persons had the possibility to bring woodcarvings, fabrics and other small things into their possession. We are also happy to select special gifts from our stands. Talented Gambier carve wooden figures which are e.g. a lasting and also appealing gift to bridal couples. The association is particularly pleased that many of the sewing products offered for sale at the stand come from the trained seamstresses of the association’s own Skill Centers in Brufut and Sintet. The seamstresses themselves are especially proud when they can give their work to us in Germany and want to show their gratitude. Through the association you have a perspective to provide for your livelihood through your own work.

The interest and the willingness to donate of the festival visitors was enormous and we would like to thank everyone who helped in any way.

Significant exploration in Gambia

Because you can achieve more together – this was the motto of my trip to Gambia in May. I work voluntarily for the NGO “Technik ohne Grenzen”, an association that aims to improve living conditions in developing countries through technical solutions. We implement projects worldwide in the fields of water, energy, waste management and technical education. It was against this background that the idea of cooperation between Technik ohne Grenzen, Socialis for The Gambia and the Rotary Club Amberg was born to improve the living conditions of the people in The Gambia.
I spent two weeks in Gambia, from 18 May to 02 June. I was accompanied by Verena from Rottenburg and Nash from Kumasi, Ghana, who complemented mine with their technical expertise. This time we spent half in Sintet and half in Brufut to visit the school and the Skill Centers with regard to water and energy supply, sanitary facilities and handling garbage.
During the first week in Sintet it turned out very quickly that the water supply at the Skill Center, but also in the whole town, is seen as a big problem. During our stay we examined and categorized the different water sources of the district Fulakunda and had water samples from the different boreholes analysed in the water laboratory. In Sintet we also visited the school, the hospital and the kindergarten, the women of the village showed us their community garden.
At the Skill Center in Sintet we were welcomed by teachers and students. We were there on several days and discussed with the agricultural teacher Lamin S. Jammeh and the coordinator Samba Sowe the irrigation situation of the fields of the agricultural school as well as the need for better sanitary facilities. On the subject of sustainable toilet systems, we also gave a lecture to the agricultural class. The toilets available there are in poor condition. With regard to the irrigation of the fields, the new, deeper borehole is active and thus enables the agricultural class to cultivate the fields. However, the irrigation system is not yet sufficient to allow irrigation of the entire area under cultivation. I was thrilled to see with what interest and commitment the teachers there were pursuing their work despite these difficulties.
The second week in Brufut was different. Brufut is much more urban and touristic. We visited the school and the Skill Center there. During our visit to the school, we gave lessons on the subject of the water cycle, as we had previously done at the school in Sintet. In a kind of role play each child took his place, either as a mountain or forest or lake or well or as one of many small water particles. We as well as children and teachers had a lot of fun. The school and the Skill Center had a very friendly atmosphere both towards us as their guests and between teachers and students.
Also in Brufut we saw more and got to know the life of the Gambians better. We visited the hospital in Brufut, which has a state of emergency in medicine and materials and also the problem that there is not sufficient system for the disposal of the partly infectious hospital garbage. Following this problem we visited the biggest garbage dump of the country in Bakothe, where we saw smouldering mountains of burning garbage and birds searching for food. These were impressions which were unusual for me as a German and sometimes difficult to classify.
After these two weeks in the diverse West African country, I returned to Germany with so many contrasting impressions that I had never collected in such a short time before. Rarely have I taken more of a journey with me in terms of understanding the world and gained such deep insights into a different way of life. It was a varied and inspiring stay, which will steer the cooperation of Socialis of The Gambia, Rotary and Technik ohne Grenzen in a meaningful direction.


Adehlheid Gonschorek

Close Menu