November 13th 2009.
Neneh said something at breakfast that shocked me – Papa Cham (her son, 5 years old) was sent back from school that morning because the Belgian sponsors are there and only giving gifts to the children who have a sponsor, so the others were sent home. I said that made me feel very uncomfortable and why. Even at that young age her son is learning about the colonial relationship between North-South which persists in this form.
February 14th 2010.
Listening to Adamah Bah, a Gambian who has done a lot of work to improve ethical practices in the tourist trade.
Tourism in The Gambia has left a big socio-cultural footprint. When tourists have spent time in local villages they have given pens and sweets to children who are obviously economically poor. Over time, this has encouraged many Gambia children to beg, whether or not they are in ‘need’. This practice is something very much frowned on by their parents as it goes against Gambian culture which is to welcome visitors with gifts, not to ask gifts from them. It is also damaging because children run after vehicles carrying white tourists shouting for gifts, which is dangerous, and it leaves tourists with the impression that all Gambian’s are poor and in need of help, thus creating a cycle of expectancy and dependency that is very hard to break.
February 14th 2012.
I was watching the Gambian news with my friend Neneh, and it showed an English teacher and member of Rotary with some Gambians who they had donated money to for a new classroom. The Englishman talked about helping ‘the poorest of the poor’. Neneh asked what that meant and when I explained she was extremely indignant that someone had described people like her in such a way, retorting that they were only poor in money and not in any other way.
Extracts from a research diary kept by Fran Martin during the three-year period of the Global Partnerships as Sites for Mutual Learning project.