My Gambian Gratitude (Jerre Jeff) Story

– One of many positive experiences in my two years in The Gambia

I was living in The Gambia serving as a volunteer, teaching introduction computer classes, they were part of a social-economic development project sponsored by the National Baha’i Community of The Gambia.

In 2003 I traveled to a village called Bwiam to visit a fellow Canadian Baha’i. The minibus that I rode in is locally known as gelli-gelli (Lonely Planet – ‘battered crammed minibusses’). We drove on mostly red dusty African roads with more potholes than road. We traveled about 3 hours crammed into the gelli-gelli with fellow travelers and some livestock on the top. There were times in the journey when it was so crowded the ‘apprentie’ (man who collected the fare) had to ride on the outside of the vehicle holding onto the ladder.

We reached the destination and I was dropped in front of the regional hospital. Soon after getting out, I realized that I left my fanny-pack with my digital camera and money in the gelli-gelli. I asked a couple of local men as to when the driver would return, and they said maybe tomorrow. I laughed, many say that GMT really meant ‘Gambian Maybe Time’. It is the equivalent of what Jamaicans would say ‘soon come’.

My Dutch Canadian friend Bakary Jatta told me that I would never see my digital camera and money again. I thought, oh well I get to practice detachment>]. I hoped whoever found it could make good use of money and camera in a country where the average wage of $2.00 per day. Nevertheless, I did not give up hope of it being returned, the next morning I walked back to the place on the main road where I was dropped off. I waited to see if I could recognize my driver from a series of gelli-gelli minibusses who looked very much the same.

After an hour passed a gelli-gelli slowed down and drove toward me with a smiling driver behind the wheel. I greeted him in my combination of broken Wolof; naka subasi and Arabic; As-salam alaykom. He handed me my fanny pack with all its contents, digital camera and money included. The camera if sold and the cash combined would have fed his family for about 6 months. I thanked him, and offered him a reward, I took some time to convince him to accept it.

This and one of many positive experiences in my 2 years in The Gambia and left me with deep gratitude to the people I met and I debt that I will never be able to repay Jerre Jeff Gambia.


Chris Ward
Chris Ward
Chris is a Global Citizen and brings empathy, passion, service, and vision for nearly 40-years of global IT leadership to the table. Chris recently un-retired in 2019 from Siemens/Atos and launched a new career as a Serial Entrepreneur. His latest ventures are; Founding Partner at Advantage10 which is a global business education company providing service to entrepreneurs and innovators. Advantage10 simplifies business by applying systems thinking to projects and showing how business can be a place of motivation and healing. Chris is co-owner of, makers of a superfood product. He serves as a Board Advisor on two India-based Digital companies. He divides his “un-tirement time between Jamaica and Canada. He Serves as Volunteer Digital Record Department for the National Baha'i Community of Jamaica And Cayman Islands. “The earth is but one country & mankind are its citizens”. - Bahá’u’lláh

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  1. Chris, my mother had an expression for moments like you describe: “Will wonders never cease?” Hard not to think of stories here in the U.S. where special interests argue against providing for those who have so little.