HOE

c. 1979
Lower River Division, The Gambia 
Wood, recycled metal,

16 1/2 x 4 1/4 x 6 1/4 in. 
Collection, Museum of the Peace Corps Experience

Gift of Paul Jurmo, The Gambia, Pakalinding 1976–79

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It was something I saw every day: farmers walking to and from their fields carrying handheld hoes. With short handles made from tree branches and blades handcrafted by a blacksmith from recycled metal, these implements were used to cultivate peanut, millet, and other crops. This was backbreaking work. 


In my three years of service I tried it once. I was about 26 years old, relatively fit, and experienced in gardening. I went out to the field with members of my host family and used one of the hoes to help weed my landlord’s peanut crop. After a fairly short time in 95-degree sunlight, I took a break in the shade and soon thereafter dragged myself back to my mud-block house, guzzled some water, and took a prolonged nap. It was one of the many instances when I realized how incredibly strong the Gambian people were.