Ngange kindly collected us from our hotel at 08:30 as promised and we made our way to NDMA headquarters. We spoke briefly with the executive director before making our way to the KMC office where we managed to upload yesterday’s blog and discuss our plans for the day.
Ngange was keen for us to meet an NGO, as we had requested, so he facilitated a meeting with Lamin Sanyang from the Fresh Start Foundation. He was a very busy man; phone constantly ringing with enquiries. He explained that the Fresh Start Foundation worked with the community, focussing on education, agriculture and vulnerable kids. He was very passionate about his work but we didn’t have the time to explore this further, we wanted to stay and talk to him some more but we had to go to another meeting.
We had seen the initial stages of Ngange’s work following an incident, so we wanted to see the position and any progress of the affected families some weeks later. Ngange had kindly arranged for us to visit two families effected by fire in the last few months. We drove through the the most densely populated town in The Gambia, Kanifing Municipality, seeing places that tourists were unlikely to visit. It was humbling and inspiring to see people living in conditions deemed poor by western standards, but every smile and wave was reciprocated enthusiastically.
The area we ended up in was called Latrikunda Sabiji, there has been a huge spike in fire incidents in 2017-2018, Ngange has dealt with the aftermath personally. At the first compound a breast feeding lady told us how the first property in the block had set on fire and affected two more leaving ten people to share one small building. The NDMA were able to supply the basics; food and corrugated sheets for roofing that still hadn’t been attached. The food had run out and the husband was out working hard to provide more for his family, it seems they can’t have it all; food and rebuild their compound, so the timescale for completion willstretch far into the future. We looked through the property, the fire had been fierce, it had ripped through, taking roof and plaster down in its path. She showed us were they all slept; three rooms, two mattresses and two couches for ten people, we are constantly surprised by the locals resilience to everything they come across. We left and moved onto the next persons compound that was no more than half a mile away. This lady was now the head of the household, her husband had passed years before. The fire had made them homeless and relying on neighbours and family. We thought that ten was a lot of people to find beds for but this lady had to relocate more, we think there were eighteen in her family. The NDMA had yet again done their upmost with the initial basic resources they had, they await more resources and Ngange was pushing for this as quickly as he could. The lady couldn’t work and her property was a shell, family displaced and very little money for food, she seemed desperate, we asked how she thinks she would cope, she said she is hoping God will intervene. Whatever your beliefs in this world, keep faith, and maybe intervention will come in the form of agencies such as the NDMA and the fire service. We had to leave this lady so that Ngange could process his letter to the agencies that can push for more resources, so that five other families currently in the same position can progress themselves back to their original status.
After returning to our hotel a little worn out from seeing people that had lost everything we decided to get some dinner and a few drinks. We joined a Facebook group called “The Gambia Tourism Forum.” We shared this blog and so far it has been well received, so we’d like to say thank you and recommend them as a good source of information for anyone considering a visit to this amazing and friendly part of West Africa. 😀