A trip to the farm …

My dad has been pestering me for months to tell him everything I know about poultry. I tried to explain that I’ve already told him what I know: Nothing. I know absolutely nothing about poultry.

“Hate to break it to you dad, but you were sent a Peace Corps Volunteer from Las Vegas and the only I thing I know about chicken is that it’s often served at buffets.”

My dad didn’t seem to like that answer. So, I began looking into what I could do to help. Afterall, so much of my job is teaching myself new skills so I can teach others.

My dad is a retired teacher, who still works for the school on contract. But, the system only allows this double-dipping for six years. So, in four more years he will only be able to collect his small pension which is not enough to support his family of 11.

I truly wanted to help him plan for the family’s future, but I just didn’t know what to do. Luckily, Peace Corps has access to an immense amount of knowledge, and the agriculture sector helped me apply for a small grant to cover expenses to take my dad and eldest brother to a training.

We visited a master farmer who was able to give us a tour of his project and explain the process on how to get started. For a few days, the men chatted about all things chicken, cattle and crops. My dad created a budget on what he’d need to invest and we made a timeline for when we would implement each step.

My dad and Master Farmer Modou

My dad, left, and Master Farmer Modou

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The training was very valuable, but it was also really neat to watch my family have the opportunity to see another part of their country. The farm was on the north bank in a village neither of them had ever heard of. To reach there, we had to cross the river, which my 25-year-old brother had never done before. It’s crazy to think that in a country so small, so many people have never traveled it. For weeks now, it’s all my brother and dad can talk about.

My brother, Ebrima, on his first ferry ride to the other side of the river, and my dad.

My brother, Ebrima, on his first ferry ride to the other side of the river, and my dad.

We have to wait until my dad sells his watermelon harvest in December to have the funds to continue with the poultry project but I’m excited to see how it will develop. I’m happy to be a small part of this new venture, even if I’m only a cheerleader on the sidelines.

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Toroba, The Gambia

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Toroba, The Gambia

–JDF