Photos: After the Storm

When the rain finally breaks through the grey sky, I usually make hot tea and sip it on the porch. My family and I watch the path in front of our compound turn to a river in a matter of minutes. We sit nearly silent, the sound of raindrops pounding our tin roof drowning out our voices. The only words I manage to hear are my dad’s “Thank God for the rain. All of us farmers are happy today. My watermelon is very happy.” And still, I can’t actually hear him; I just know what he’s saying because he says it every time the rain comes. The rain is usually something we thank God for in The Gambia. In fact in Jola, “rain” translates directly to “Thank God.”

But then there was the day the rain came with a fierce wind. In one neighborhood of my village, where people were late to settle, there were few trees to bear the burden — and the small mud brick houses took the brunt instead. At least 15 houses suffered severe damage, leaving dozens to make do under temporary rice bag roofs among the rubble for the rest of rainy season. The next afternoon, I felt helpless as I walked through what looked like a tornado’s wake. Still, with all their inspiring faith, The Gambians were thanking God and praising Him that it wasn’t worse.