Rosie Carter - Reflections on Gunjur January 2014

Having now been to Gunjur twice before, my third visit was very different. From late December I spent a month in Gunjur carrying out research for my Anthropology and International Development theses, part of my degree at the University of Sussex. It was my first trip to Gunjur, where I had worked as a volunteer teacher for three months, which had taken me down this academic route. I then led the summer group in 2012 and have now come full circle, finishing my degree based on research carried out in the village.

The trip was independent from the link, which in itself is- somewhat ironically- a testament to the strength of this connection and the friendships made. It was through my Grandmother that I became involved with MBG and the family friendships have survived to this day. It is a bizarrely brilliant thing to arrive in an unknown village in West Africa to be confronted with photographs of myself as a baby, hear family anecdotes and feel suddenly so comfortable in an otherwise unfamiliar setting.

As one interviewee told me, "the link was not a change, but a revolution". It is not only the obvious and immediate impact of tangible projects, or even the social changes that have happened to those directly involved with the link but the snowballing effect, which cannot be underestimated. Another part of my research focused on the development experiences of minority groups, religious and ethnic. It became clear that, although for some, there is progress yet to be made, MBG's work has had a dynamic, cohesive impact on the community.

Part of my research was focused on the development experiences of migrants, interviewing people who had migrated to Gunjur as well as those who had returned from Europe and America. The most striking factor about all this movement, so different to my own transnational perspective, was the importance of home. And it's not hard to see why. I love everything about being in Gunjur, and feel very much 'at home' piling into bush taxis, finding my way around the sandy back alleys by moonlight or watching as people pass by in their Friday best. I doubt this will be my last trip to Gunjur.