L’Expérience du Senegal

1 08 2011

Last weekend we (Dan, Yena, our newly acquired friend Anelynda and myself) took a break from our demanding and stressful workload to have some fun by heading out to adventure the country that almost entirely engulfs little ol’ Gambia; Senegal. In an effort to keep things interesting, I have attempted to sum up the trip with four key ‘S’ word, to share some of the spectacular stories from our trip to Senegal.


Since French is the official language of Senegal, communicating over there would be a piece of cake… I’m Canadian; I have 6 years of learning French under my belt. However, I didn’t make it much further than ‘Bonjour’ with the guard at the boarder before I began to blank. To top it off, almost all of the locals have learned French as a second language as well, leaving even more space for confusion. Thankfully both Dan and Yena are more francophone than I, and the language issue was only a small bump in the road.


Speaking of bumps in the road, the journey from our home in the Gambia to our destination in Dindenfello, Senegal was over 700kms and included multiple stops, driver changes and backtracks; traveling was an adventure in itself. We decided to take local cabs for the trip which consisted of dangerously overloaded vans (loaded inside and on the roof, I might add), trucks with missing windows and my personal favourite; the septplace. A septplace is basically a station wagon with the trunk gutted in order to cram another row of seating in. Also, as you can probably decipher, septplace means ‘seven places’ (3 + 3 + 1 + driver) which makes for an uncomfortable journey. Nevertheless, a more uncomfortable jaunt awaited us on our way back home as the septplace we planned on entering already had seven passengers and instead of waiting it out for the next car to come our way (possibly hours), we decided to turn this one into an eleven-place. Good thing I’m not claustrophobic…

the tight squeeze


No trip, let alone a trip to Senegal, would be complete without a few setbacks. This one was no exception. After arriving in Tambacounda, a liaison town for many of Senegal’s attractions, we quickly made it to a hotel where we organized our trip to Niokolo-Koba National Park. After planning out itinerary with the partially English speaking woman at the hotel, we paid her the agreed upon amount and headed out with our zilch English speaking driver in his 4×4 truck. Of course, on arrival at the park, the money that we used to pay for the entrance tickets was still back at the hotel with the lady and when we called her she had no recollection of us paying her for the tickets. Woops, good thing they weren’t expensive…We paid (again) and went into the park. We then drove for several hours around the massive +9000km2 park (almost the entire size of Gambia) seeing all sorts of wildlife; from warthogs and kob to baboons and crocodiles…the lions, however, was nowhere to be found. We stayed the night in the park at beauty of a hotel that backs on to the River Gambia. After a few hours of rest, we woke up early to take a boat tour down the river. The lush riverside foliage swarming with families of baboons and exotic birds was a sight in itself but the icing on the cake was the group of four hippos that were swimming up the river near our boat.

animals by the lake

From here we traveled back to Tambacounda to plan our trip to Dindefello, a small village near the Guinean border. We were able to arrange a truck to take on the expedition and this time we got all the conditions of the agreement in contract form. What the contract didn’t stipulate was the possibility of the gas station filling up the truck with dirty gas and having it break down on the way, inconveniently late at night, during a lightning storm and in the middle of the road that passes through the national park. After several frustrating/terrifying hours of putting our way down the pitch dark road, we made it to one of the driver’s ‘friends’ place nearby in Kedougou to catch some shut eye. Early the next day we got into the mechanics, and after hours of tinkering around the obvious solution they finally drained the truck of the dirty gas and filled it with new gas (still dirty, as the driver said, but not as bad as the old stuff) and we got back on track.

not my favourite part of the trip


At this part of our journey, we ventured on a hike several kilometres up the mountain side to visit the Bassari villages, an old traditional Senegalese village. Hidden from the rest of Senegal at the top of the mountain, it was refreshing to see people living so contently with what seemed to be just the basic necessities. After this, we drove down to Dindefelo, our final destination on this Senegalese expedition. Our first stop in Dindefelo was the breathtaking 120m waterfall. Once we made it to the village, it was only a short 2km hike from our camp to the falls. As we were there in the middle of the rainy season, the lack of tourists and overgrown forest made the falls seem like a hidden paradise. The pool at the bottom of the falls (about 75*, freezing cold by African standards) was a great sight after a long day of hiking… However, the water snake that slithered my way when I was swimming was not so great of a sight. Luckily my deafening scream and frantic splashing scared it away before any drastic measures were taken. After staying the night in thatched roofed huts in Dindefelo, we awoke to another day of adventure. We hiked up the side of the mountain to the source of the waterfall (a small stream coming in from Guinea) which runs over a large cave. We also saw some pretty intimidating snake trails and checked out ‘les dents’ which were 11 large rocks, resembling teeth, off the side of the mountain. Words can’t describe these beauties, so take a look at the pictures.

Dan and I in the cave

the snake trail

the teeth, what a view!

All in all, the trip was a great success. If any of you are African explorers; Senegal is a must.

Six days left before my flight leaves for Canada… this may be my last post from Africa!


John / Lamin Bojang


Exploring The Gambia: From Work Sites to Historical Sites

20 07 2011

baboons on the roadside

The past week has been a pretty hectic one as we took a couple trips out to explore the country. First, we went with Kebba, from the MoA, half way up the country to visit some of the sites that they have been working on. Being the adventure seeker I am, I decided to spend most of this +400km trek to Farafenni and back riding in the back of the PIWAMP pickup truck. Sporadic weather conditions of scorching hot sun and scattered showers were things I should have considered before making the choice to ride back there. At least I got some pretty awesome pictures… to go along with my not-so awesome sunburn.

a branch off the River Gambia at Bintang Bolong

Throughout the trip, we got to see many of the ministry’s projects that were different from the ones we have been working with over the summer. One of their big projects up country is improving access to crop fields. It seems simple enough; how can you grow and harvest the crops if you can’t get to them. This process mainly involves improving the road ways (by clearing and levelling or adding gravel backfill) and adding bridges over marsh areas (made resourcefully out of the chasse of old trucks). It was interesting to see how much of a problem this is and how useful these small civil additions can be during the rainy season. We crossed the river at Farafenni and stayed the night in a village called Soma where Kebba’s snoring was loud enough to drown out the sounds of nature that may have kept me up through the night. On the way back, we checked out more of the lowland development sites where they use interesting techniques such as tidal irrigation and salt water flushing in order to improve the agriculture in the villages.

James Island from the shore of Albreda

We also made a trip out to James Island (aka Kunta Kinteh Island) where the ruins of Fort James, an old slave fort, are located. The island, located a short distance up the river, was used as a slave holding point and was the last stop before the slaves were shipped around the world. If you were here, you were usually held for a few weeks and then loaded onto a ship destined for Europe or the Americas. If this wasn’t bad enough, when an entire family was there, the slave traders made sure to ship the father to North America, the mother to South America and the daughter to England; so there was little chance you would see your family again. Visiting this site gave a very real feeling to what was happened here and knowing that there were many of these slave ‘warehouses’ up the west coast of Africa put a sick feeling in my stomach.

The Freedom Flagpole

Located in the mainland village of Albreda, the British are said to have placed this flagpole here along with the message that any slave who could escape the island and touch the flagpole would be a free man. Of course, the flag was located 4 miles away from the island and anyone daring to elude the guards and make their escape would have to deal with swimming across the wild (and apparently shark infested, at the time) river. Of the few who tried this cruel challenge, even fewer managed to make it across. Sadly, when most stepped off that island, they would never see Africa again.

the slave yard on James Island

With time flying and now only three weeks left until we’re back on Canadian soil, we’re trying to pack as many things in as we can. We’re planning on making a trip to the end of the country to visit more the MoA’s sites and hopefully taking a weekend trip to Senegal because… well, why not?



Wedding Crashers: Gambian Style

8 07 2011

The rainy season is upon us now and it isn’t hard to see how much of a problem it can be. One of the first real storms we had was last weekend and it started when we were out with some of the younger guys from Yena’s compound. We went down the street to a nearby program that is held every weekend. It is a place for people in their teens to their twenties to come, hangout and have a good time. A DJ stood inbetween massive speakers and blasted the latest Gambian tracks. Chairs bordered a 10m x 10m stage where people paid 5 Dalasi to go get their favourite song played and dance to it on center stage. You definitely couldn’t pay me 5 Dalasi to get me out there on that stage, but it seemed like quite the attraction as group after group of youngsters lined up to take on the spotlight. Only a short time after we got to there, the rain joined us and dampened the mood at the party, so we slowly started making our way back home. After getting about 20m away from the program the rain stopped, leaving us debating whether or not to return to the festivities. Looking back at the small crowd that had waited it out, we had just about decided to turn around when the group let out a howling scream and started running towards us. Without any thought, I turned and ran…I’ve seen too many horror movies to not know what to do when that kind of thing happens. Sure enough, after a few second of out running the storm, we were engulfed in the downpour. The puddles lining the dirt road that we tip-toed around on the way there, we now found ourselves frantically sprinting through on the way back. After a few near wipeouts, we made it back in one piece and considering the conditions, not completely waterlogged. The storm, which started around 8pm, went until around 3:30am and seemed to increase in intensity every 10 minutes. I learnt a very valuable lesson that night: when your washroom is outside and doesn’t have a roof, never EVER leave both of your towels outside to dry at the same time… especially during the rainy season … or after having a massive dinner and washing it down with some of that questionable sour milk porridge. Fun night…

street by my compound after the rain


...after one rainfall


The next day, we got the opportunity to see a real traditional Gambian wedding… completely different from a Canadian one. First of all, we went with the bride’s sister’s friend’s friend… I’m not sure, but I don’t think invites were sent out in the mail for this one. Having minimal clothes here as it is and knowing most of my clean clothes that were outside drying had been caught in the previous nights downpour, it was a struggle putting together something I thought would be suitable for a Gambian wedding (whatever that means…). My outfit started off acceptable; with a striped button up shirt but took a tumble downhill with my noticeably dirty, two-sizes-too-big khaki work pants followed up by my classy black croc sandals. I was just thankful that the wedding was outside at night time.

Lamin 'classy' Bojang

The set up for weddings here is very different; both the husband and wife’s family compounds host their own festivities simultaneously and the couple makes the trip to each party. We were at the wife’s compound where friends, family and apparently whoever else happens to be in the area at the time were gathered for the party around speakers (possibly the same ones from the previous night’s program) that were blaring music that was so loud that I wouldn’t be surprised if you heard it in Canada.

Yena, Dan and myself with the mother of the bride and other family

Midway through the night the power went out. Off goes the music and lights, leaving the entire party in the dark. I made a joke to Yena about how this might not be a good sign; seeing as marriage is the eternal flame and all… but it’s Africa, and this isn’t anything out of the ordinary. Lights or no lights, the party moved on and a seemingly infinite number of huge bowls of rice were then distributed amongst the attendees for everyone to chow down on.  After the meals were complete, the power came back on and the partying resumed.  After some more dancing and conversing (more like watching the dancing and struggling to converse through the language barrier and excessively loud music) we called it a night and head back home. All in all it was a fun night,and as there were no exchanging of vows or anything fromal like that, it seemed to be more of a celebration than a ceremony.

The Happy Couple

As for work, we’ve been very busy over the past few weeks working with the MoA on the GALDEP project, which I mentioned in my previous post, and with GAM-Solar on planning a new project that will hopefully be implemented soon.
Less than a month left and everything is going swimmingly,

Headin’ up Country and the Big Disappointment

27 06 2011

solar panels at Njawara

Trip up country

Late last week we made our first trip to the north bank of the river to a village called Njawara. We went with a company called GAM-Solar to do a survey of the village’s power needs, as they are currently living without electricity. Crossing the river to get to the north bank was an adventure as we missed the ferry and had to take a small, dangerously overloaded boat across the choppy waters. From there, it was a 60km bumpy ride up near the border of Senegal to our destination. We arrived in the afternoon and got to work. Phase one of this project covers bringing power to the necessities of the village: school, clinic (check out what was in one of the rooms), Mosque, community center and street lights. We spent the rest of that day and the morning of the next with Alfusainey, the GAM-Solar technician, surveying the village and calculating the size and amount of solar panels the village would need to be completely solar reliant. We took the data back to the GAM-Solar office and with some final additions to the design and approval, construction will begin soon. It was pretty cool to see solar power actually being used on a large scale and it seems like a smart option for Africa… so maybe my skin won’t be the only thing the sun rains down on.

Crossing the River Gambia to Barra, the North Bank

The chicken chicken

The first thing I noticed when I moved in with the Bojang’s was that there are at least 30 chickens roaming around the compound all day. Knowing that I would be eating with the family, that meals here typical consist of either fish or chicken, and the fact that I’m a chicken guy… I thought I’d hit the jackpot. However, to my dismay, every single meal I have had here has been fish. Of all the questionable foods I pile into my mouth, fish is one I very rarely enjoy. To top it off, whatever fish they like to cook with here has at least 20 bones per square inch. Before I start hearing the “get over it John!” comments, I’ll let you know that living in an ocean bordering country which had a river running through the middle of it, I’ve quickly tossed my loathe for seafood out the window.

After getting up yesterday, I took my bucket back to the tap to grab some water for a shower when I saw the Bojang kids, Sona and Salifu, chasing the chickens around the compound. Excited at the thought of finally dipping into a poultry meal, I helped the kids chase the pack of chicken and narrow down the search to one massive rooster. It took four of us to corner it but eventually Sona caught the bird as it tried to squeak between his leg and the garden fence. My suspicions were confirmed when Sona shook it by its wings saying “Eh Lamin, good Lunch!”… Never has broken English sounded so good. Before leaving for work, I made sure to let the family know that I’d be back around 4pm for lunch. They assured me that a plate would await me… I could barely stand the excitement.

At work, we went with the GALDEP (Gambia Lowland Development Project) team to visit one of the sites they are currently working on. The Gambia consists of five regions (similar to provinces in Canada) and the GALDEP project is working on putting 20 village gardens throughout one of these regions, the West Coast Region. Each of these gardens will be 5 hectares in size and consist of 24 individual garden plots each with their own 5000L water fetching reservoir, one cooled storage room to preserve crops before they are taken to market, a borehole which pumps to a main 80,000L elevated reservoir and solar panels that will power both the pump and cold room. Geological studies and soil analysis were done at each site and upon completion the villages will be provided with crop suggestions to maximize yield. Our plan is to review the design of the project and hopefully propose ways to improve upon their design, as they hope to expand this project to the other 4 regions of the Gambia in 2013. We discussed the project in detail with Mawdo, one of the project leaders, and then wrapped it up for the day… just as I remembered what would be waiting for me back at the compound.

the garden GALDEP site in Lamin

As I returned, I barely had enough time to drop my bags in my room before I heard a knock at my door. Fatima, a 5 year old little girl living in the compound hands me the steaming bowl I have longed for. I almost passed out when I lifted the lid to see a mound of rice with my boney enemy resting on top. “mmmm fish!”… Apparently the chicken I had hoped for was the only hen left, so they need it to make more chicken. Chicken they plan on selling, not eating…They were just removing its wing feathers because it likes to hop the fence into the garden and eat the crops. Sona claims that he didn’t know about this and was not just playing a sick joke on me. Either way, it might be hard for that chicken to get away from attackers during the night without its wings…



Becoming a Bojang

20 06 2011

When we first arrived here, our Gambian contact Alpha took us for a drink at one of his old favourite places to stop at. It was a bit overwhelming then when he told our pale-white Canadian faces that they make a mean cow foot there. Now, having morphed into the everyday Gambian I am, we decided it was time to get adventurous and try this local delicacy.

Bon Appetit!

The Skin

The Bone

As you can see, the cow foot came with a potato and soup… which was just about all that was there to eat…according to me, at least. It was more of cow ankle than cow foot; there was a thin layer of meat surrounding the bone and then a nice thick piece of skin outside that. I’m pretty sure that we were supposed to eat the skin, but after trying a few bites, I decided that leaving it half eaten on the plate would be more polite than returning the whole meal on the table. All in all, the soup and potato were great!… As for the foot itself, it’ll take some getting used to.

 Yena, being the networker she is, bumped into an architect from the UK who is working on a project with a company called Earthworks. The company specializes in making structures (mainly dome shaped) out of earth blocks; which are blocks made out of a mixture of local clays, sands and cement. We went to visit one of their sites where they are currently building a theatre with a dome spanning 16m and we got to see how the process works. To make a long story short, they offered us an opportunity to build a 5m spanning dome building in order to test the structural characteristics of the design and to test variations of the earth block mix. After seeing their work at the site, it seems like something we might be interested in doing on the side. Just a simple Lego build… right?

The Dome

 Yesterday we moved out of our luxurious lodge in the city of Fajara and into individual family compounds on the outskirts in a village called Yundum. We were lucky enough to find three neighbouring compounds, so I am still only a stones throw away from both Yena and Dan. With this move, we say goodbye to internet, generators, gas stoves and toilets and say hello to an empty cement room, a pit latrine, bucket showers and eating with a Gambian family (pics comin soon!) The Bojang family greeted me with open arms and despite the fact that the family speaks Mandinka, the weaker of my two recently acquired Gambian tongues; we were able to get acquainted quite quickly. When the eldest daughter (whose name I have already forgotten… ughh) said to me “Hey boy!… Ito doo” meaning, of course “Hey boy! What’s your name” and I responded swifty, as this is one of the few phrases I’m familiar with; “Lamin Sonko”, she replied “Lamin…?”, getting the hint, I then countered with “Oops, Lamin Bojang”. I’m home, mind you I’m still 7,000 km away from home home… but this will do for now.

Thanks for reading,


Ps. If you are traveling to Africa any time soon, I suggest stocking up on travelers cheques. No matter how many times you’ve clarified with your bank that your cards will work over here… chances are they won’t. What would I do without Western Union…

A Taste of Gambian Tradition

14 06 2011

The sacrifice. You were a delicious ram.

The Work Week

To say last week at work was a little slow would be an understatement, besides having a few meeting with the GALDEP (Gambia Lowland Development Project) team, we didn’t do much actual ‘work’. We hoped to go up country and visit a few of their work sites, but,the Ministry of Agriculture relies on funding from organizations to complete their projects and when the funding is slow… so is the work. But, we did get some solid research done at the FAO (food and agriculture organization) library on some of the Gambia’s agricultural challenges, so it wasn’t a complete waste. Our boss at the MoA assures us the work will pick up shortly.

The Naming Ceremony

The highlight of the week came on Saturday when our pal Lamin Sonko invited us to join him at a naming ceremony which was taking place at his family’s compound. A naming ceremony is pretty much what you’d think it is; a big party with family and friends where a newborn baby is given their name. This is a very common and valued tradition in Gambian culture.

We arrived around 11am and were just in time to see the men finish cutting up the celebration’s sacrifice: a ram and a goat. After talking with one of the guys doing the chopping, I was informed that his father had chosen him to be the one to make the first cut. I was a tad bit upset that we didn’t arrive earlier, as he also told me that the animals were walking around only a few hours ago… That would have been something to see.

Porridge with sour milk

Brewin' Attaya

After the meat was all chopped up and sorted, it was passed off to the women to prepare. That about did it for work as the men were concerned, the rest of the day was spent hangin’ out around a pot of attaya for some chit chat. During the initial brew we were presented with the first of the many meals of the day. Two big bowls of rice porridge, one with a creamy groundnut (peanut) sauce and one without, were plopped down right in front of us. With the thought of the days delicious sacrifice still fresh in my head; I tried to restrain myself from eating the entire bowl… It wasn’t easy, that groundnut sauce was out of this world. What did help in slowing my appetite, however, was when Lamin poured some sour milk onto the plain porridge and offered me to try it. He took a mouth full and then delivered me this sales pitch; “Oh this was fresh, delicious cow milk yesterday. Today it’s sour and much better!”. If that comment alone didn’t raise any concerns for me, the curds in his milk moustache should have. But hey, why not give it a taste…so I grabbed a spoon full. Yup, that was for sure sour milk. Not too sure what the appeal of it is, it tasted exactly the way you think milk left out for a day would taste. Not the best.

Over the next few hours us men brewed more attaya while enjoying mangos and man talk. I couldn’t help but notice that the compound was separated like a grade school dance; guys on one side, girls on the other. Yena, who had been summoned to duty shortly after our arrival, was over with the women who were all working tirelessly to prepare the breakfast, lunch, and dinner feasts. From what I’ve seen over here, the roles of a man and a woman are quite scripted and even more so when it comes to a traditional celebration like as this one.

At this point in the day, the men were now invited over to the actual naming ceremony at the father’s compound nearby. To my understanding, the way it works is the father suggests a name for the child, the crowd and the Imam (the community’s Muslim leader) then will discuss and finalize the child’s name. We walked in during this portion and everyone was crowded around a man (good friend of the fathers) who was shouting at the top of his lungs at random members of the crowd. Lamin explained that he was praising the people he was yelling at, trying to get them to donate some money to the family. After the man was done raking the crowd, the name was settled on and we returned to the Sonko compound for dinner.

Dan gettin' his groove on

After putting a nice dent into a massive bowl of goat and ram benachin, we relaxed (over some attaya, of course) for a short while before until we were called into the streets for a little bit of traditional Gambian dancing. This part was only for the women, but for some reason they made an exception and dragged both Dan and I into the middle of it. I was reluctant at first but after being pulled into a pile of 30 dancing women, I wasn’t complaining. We tore up the street for about 5 minutes until both Dan and I were done embarrassing ourselves and left the dancing to the professionals.

When everyone was all danced out, we called it a day and after around 11 hours of celebrations it was about time.  Overall; had lots of great food, met lots of good people, had some laughs (mostly as a result of my boogieing) and had an experience I won’t soon forget.

Ciao for now,
Enjoy game 7 of the cup finals…


Some Advice and a few Presidents

7 06 2011

Class picture on the last day at WACD-TC

Since we arrived here we have been getting the typical tourist harassment from bumsters (locals who try to scam you for some money), so we quickly learned effective ways to deal with them. Although it has become less frequent as of late, the other day we found ourselves in one of these situation and once again we delivered the line we’ve been using since day one; ‘we’re not tourists, we’re students on internship… we’ve been here for over a month’. He then decided we weren’t worth his time and moved on, just as I realized our white lie was no longer untruthful; we actually have been here a month already. Wow, this first month in Africa has flown by… I guess it’s about time I share some of the things I’ve learned about living in Gambia:

1) Hot sauce is ALWAYS served with food here. No matter how similar it may look to ketchup at the time, smell it to confirm before bathing your meal in it.

             a. In the unfortunate case where you chose to take the risk, find some good reading material soon for your upcoming day at the toilet.

2) From awkwardly long and firm handshakes to their arm over your shoulder when walking in public, guys here are extremely friendly. This can be shocking at first, but it’s the norm here, people tend to become very touchy once you’ve been acquainted.

 3) Although the water where I am is supposedly safe to drink, stick to buying bags or bottles of water. If however these options are not available and you’re in too much of a rush to boil it, drinking the water will work but you may need to refer to 1a. shortly after.

 4) Negotiating at the market is not a skill acquired over night. The best bet is to respond shocked and appalled to their first price offer for any item. Once they know they’re not going to pull the wool over your eyes that easy, they should respond with ‘Okay, okay, I give you good Gambian price…’. From here, you should be able to cut this ‘good Gambian price’ in half if you try.

5) There is absolutely nothing a pair of ear plugs can do against the nightly sounds of mangos dropping on your tin roof, creatures fighting on the roof (thought to be rats or lizards… nobody can really know for sure), birds chirping or roosters cock-a-doodle-doo’ing. Combine this with the heat and you find out that a good night’s sleep is a luxury.

6) There is no effective way to let a honking cab know that you don’t want a ride. Any hand signal you think might shun them away will be taken as an attempted wave down, ignoring results in more honking and the driver slowing down and staring at you until you respond and a verbal dismissal will be taken as a language miscommunication and result in more honking. No matter how hard you try, and trust me… I’ve tried, you can’t win. Daily headaches are inevitable.

Presidents Pass By

 Upon leaving WACD-TC one day last week, we were lucky enough see two African presidents. The Mauritanian president was visiting the Gambia and what better way to celebrate this than by having the Gambian president escort him from the airport, through the major streets and back to his place in Banjul. For an event like this it is of course necessary to close down half of the road over this entire route leaving civilian traffic to funnel into one lane. Next it is essential that everyone line the streets (including kids pulled from school), arriving hours in advance and staying long after the pass. With armed police and military personal at every intersection, the festivities begin. A twenty car convoy consisting of police motorcycles, SUVs and fully equipped military jeeps escorted the president’s stretch Hummer through the crowded streets. Everyone applauded as the presidents stood out of the sunroof of the Hummer smiling and waving to the people. After the several hours of build up, the fleet passes in a matter of seconds and things slowly return to normal. Over the next hour or so, people will begin to wander back to their respective places and it will be another hour on top of that before the traffic is restored to its normal flow. Necessary? Not sure… but it was definitely an experience.

Well…that’s it for now,

 Thanks for reading.

 Jaama rek,