Culture & Family in The Gambia P2: Child’s Play

This is my continuation of observations about culture and family (C & F) in The Gambia.

When we think of children playing  most of us picture children playing in the streets or in a field with balls and bats.  Or inside with video games, dolls, or figurines. With the exception of the layer of dirt that all children seem to acquire when playing, that is a very Western image of children and what children’s activities should look like.

There are are stuffed animals and plastic toys in The Gambia and I do see children with them but not often. Mostly I see them playing imaginary games with sticks and odd bits of junk lying around (sometimes its cardboard other times its rusted pieces of metal…)

The primary issue here with children and the things they choose to play with is that it is often with dangerous junk like old leaking batteries or razor blades…(I cant tell you how many children I’ve seen under the age of 2 walking around with razor blades in their mouths)

They also play with trash a lot because there is no sanitation job here. No trash men/women, weekly trash pick up from the curb. There is no system in place here for that so people pick random (and usually inconvenient and dangerous) places to dump their trash.

Now before you jump to conclusions and start blaming their parents remember that this is how they grew up as well. People here LITERALLY do not know any better. Remember that post I did about change….



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