Marvin has just returned from The Gambia – unusually I am duplicating his
report almost in toto ( with his permission of course ) here.
Because its important to show that a well prepared well placed volunteer can make a difference in a short time.
The reports we are getting back from the projects reflect the same sense of achievement.
We can’t achieve the right match for short placements everywhere – but here we could
Here’s an edited ( but not changed) version of Marvin’s report
“Due to work commitments I was only able to do a placement for 2 weeks. However it was something I really wanted to experience, utilising my skills and experience in insolvency and corporate recovery in another country. I had been looking for some time for an organisation that was both flexible and accommodating to not only the duration but the specific nature of the project, but having entered into various conversations with different organisations and been disappointed on a project in South Africa with another organisation I was beginning to get frustrated with the process.
I stumbled across the peoples and place website purely by chance and Kate was very responsive. When you are emailing someone it is often very hard to gauge their enthusiasm and when I spoke to Kate she instantly understood what I was looking for. Though my desired project was very specific and I really liked the way she was upfront in saying they were unable to accommodate that specific request but here are some alternative which I had not considered and which would utilise my skills and broaden my skill set. She suggested a project in The Gambia which would “turn your experience in insolvency on its head.” And although it is a cliché I really liked the fact that she was able to think outside the box.
Kate sent me a wealth of information and previous reports from volunteers which were extremely helpful . I was fortunate enough to speak to Adama (Adama Bah – our local partner in The Gambia) whilst he was in the UK before I flew out and we spoke at length about what I would be doing in the Gambia which was useful and comforting in touching base with him.
I flew in late on a Saturday night and was met at the airport by Adama. He explained to me the geology and general environment of the Gambia on our journey to the hotel. My first day was spent with Adama showing me around Fajara. We then went to the Sandele Eco Resort where I was to stay the night
and gather information to prepare a marketing brief .
There I met Maurice and Geri. They are without question two of the most inspirational people I have ever met. They explained to me their ethos and showed me around the resort explaining what they sought to achieve, and what they have done is create an oasis of tranquillity and calm. I could very easily talk about my experience in meeting them for several pages but do not want to spoil the surprise for future volunteers to the Gambia, in fact anyone going to the Gambia has to visit the Sandele Eco Resort and meet them, I would say if you have been to the Gambia and not met them you have not been to the Gambia. I would go so far as to say if, after the first night I spent with them to compile this marketing brief, I was leaving the Gambia the next day I would have been satisfied with my experience.
It is very difficult to explain how much of an impact they have made upon me
and for that reason I will always have a fondness for the Gambia. So if you are going please please make sure you visit Sandele, you will be in awe of what they have achieved and what they seek to achieve and I found myself walking around speechless and inspired.
(Marvin then met with various stakeholders in the gambian tourism industry who are planning to move together to the same premesis – and his brief was to work with them on a process by which this could be done and costed correctly.)
Adama introduced me to the various heads of divisions and I was honoured that they were able to take time to meet with me. I was fortunate enough to attend the meeting where the plan to amalgamate all the entities onto one site was proposed and witness the enthusiasm behind the project. Adama also took me to the proposed site and shared with me his vision. He was very supportive and provided me with a lot of information to help me prepare the report.
With a Marketing brief for Sandele and a Cost Analysis report on the new proposed site it was about time I got cracking with some work. I was based at the offices of ASSET in Bakau and received so much help from Goney, Badou and Sia who were based there. Goney the Accounts Manager provided all the financial Reports needed to make my report more accurate.
The following week was then spent preparing the cost analysis for the proposed site and preparing various excel spread sheets and a written report. Adama continually ensured that I was being provided with all the information necessary and that I did not feel to out of my depth.
We had a meeting mid-week where he showed me some architect plans of the site and the proposed restaurant they were planning to build. On Friday he informed me that I would be attending a meeting with him to discuss with Money Gram about installing a proposed money exchange booth on the site and the potential returns that could be made. This was really interesting discussing the mark up on transfers and potential profit split between Money Gram and ASSET.
Meeting Adama and the vision for the future of tourism in the Gambia was
inspirational. The preparation of both reports over my two week stay kept me busy, but not too busy that I felt pressured and the wealth of support from everyone was fantastic.
I would definitely recommend going to the Gambia for future volunteers I had an eye opening experience and I thank everyone for all their support and assistance.
People and places were brilliant in supplying so much information before I went out there and I would recommend reading previous volunteer reports. I also thank Kate Stefanko for all her help, needless to say I am not the most organised person and she was brilliant in ensuring I was prepared.