So as every volunteer knows, good counterparts are hard to come by. You have to find someone that isn’t hindered by familial responsibilities and is willing to listen to you. They have to be willing to try something new without immediate beneficial results and often with the rest of the surrounding discouraging them and telling them that whatever they are trying is hopeless. That why I’m so fortunate to have two dedicated individuals who are willing to stand out and even be mocked just to improve their lives and hopefully the community.
This is my friend and counterpart Abdoulie Manneh. He is married with 2 sons and a baby of unknown sex on the way (no ultrasounds in the bush).
He works with a community based organization (CBO) called the Tumana Association for Development as a community out reach worker. His primary roles and responsibilities are liaison between the local bank and the villages in the district. He creates their accounts with the bank, manages their savings and deposits, and helps procure loans. The amazing things is that that he does this by hand without out the work of computers and most of the clients are illiterate so all forms and monetary records for over onehundred villagers are kept up by him. He also goes village village meeting primarily with women to educate them on health issues, like breast feeding and healthy food choices. A few months ago I took him to the Gender & Development training where we learned about gender issues in the Gambia: contraception myths, birth spacing, gender inequality in The Gambia, child development, etc.