In-between my college workload and working in general, I was finally able to finish my article. The Gambia may not be my favorite place I have been to (I still have a lot more traveling to do) but it is certainly one that I would love to (and will!) get back too.
Travels near and far have led me all around the world, but none quite match my time in The Gambia, Africa. Maybe it was the people I traveled with, maybe it was the people I met over there, or mostly likely, a combination of both. My stay in The Gambia lasted 20 days and was truly unforgettable.
Although it was a rough start, getting lost in Morocco at dusk, I survived and make it to the “Smiling Coast,” as The Gambia is commonly nicknamed. I quickly fell in love with the culture, minus the bumsters, but learned to accept all aspects of the area.
It was the little things that I started to appreciate during my (far too short) stay, the smiles of people passing by, the bright clothing, and the horning of car horns as communication. I went to The Gambia with Juniata College accompanied by two professors, seasoned travelers; they knew the ropes of the area and made my experience truly worth wild.
Some of the most depressing, interesting, and shocking things of the county were the hospitals. By American standards I cannot even call those two-story concrete buildings hospitals. As we walked in to the pediatric ward I saw blood on the floor. Continuing on through the ward a little girl had half of her face burned off, no bandages or ointment, completely uncovered. I quickly understood that people in this country do not go to the hospital for broken bones or anything minor. There were countless people on the streets with crooked fingers and tumors on their body. As we continued our tour we went to the neonatal ward. They made us take off our shoes because it was “sanitary.” All of us could tell it wasn’t…but when in Africa, so we kicked off our shoes and walked in. We saw these small children without blankets sitting in plastic bassinets. It was heart breaking to see these children, especially the ones in incubators. There were 5 incubators but only one could run at a time because they didn’t have enough electricity to run them all. Thankfully, when we were there, there was only one child in the incubator. Going to the hospitals really made me thankful for what I have.
But then there are the bright sides of The Gambia, the people and their smiles. My two hands-down favorite people were Yankuba and Modou. Yankuba is a tailor who made me countless shirts and outfits. He was very nice and I am so happy I got to know him. In Africa they do not really have stores, so if you want something to wear you make it yourself or have someone else make if for you. I had seen some of the clothing Yankuba made and asked him to make me some. The clothing he made for me was simply amazing. I will never forget where they came from and tell everyone who complements on them that they are from The Gambia. I have had many great conversations with Yankuba and Modou (whom I also met where Yankuba works). Talks about Akon, Michael Jackson, and Manchester Untied will forever stay in my memory. Because Yankuba and Modou have left such a positive impression on my experience in The Gambia I had to give them both Lackawanna County Commissioner Cup Soccer tournament shirts (NEPSAY, my local soccer organization, hosted this event) to show my appreciation. One day I hope to come back to The Gambia to see these great people I met again.
Although this was just the beginning of my yearlong study abroad it impacted my life greatly. I know one day I will make it back to The Gambia and see the friends I made, until then.
If anyone is interested in adding to this project feel free to contact me!
Also I have become a writer for Her Campus, an online college magazine. To check out more of my posts take at look at http://www.hercampus.com/author/kelsey-kohrs