Intrepid adventurer back in Gib after overland Gambia bra run
Angela Ferguson has returned from the Republic of the Gambia where she delivered nearly 4,000 bras to women and girls.
Bras are expensive in Gambia and not wearing one is seen as a sign of poverty, which increases the risk a female may be sexually assaulted or even raped.
Before she Ms Ferguson said: “In the Gambia a bra can literally change someone’s life.”
“Research shows that if there are women without bras they are more likely to be abused, possibly raped and verbal abuse.”
She was originally due to depart on her drive down to Gambia in 2021 but following Covid-19 and political issues with Spain and Morocco, she put the journey on hold until this year.
“This year, everything just fell into place. It was literally two weeks before I was due to go when I suddenly realised, I have to actually do this because it's been so long in the making,” she said.
Her plan was to do it on her own, solo and unsupported, but for the sake of her partner’s sanity, she joined up with a group called Dakar challenge. Travelling with 36 cars, she was the only one driving solo, she followed some of the guidebooks and rule books they had but it was still an unscripted trip.
She found just how unscripted it would be when she decided she did not want to travel the same route so spent three or four days driving by herself, a fact her partner did not learn about until after the event.
“All the rules that we had in place, which was don't drive on your own, don't drive at night, don't follow strange men to places, all completely went out the window within the first three days,” she said.
She described the journey to Mauritania as “interesting” and drove 500km in one day from the border with Morocco. At one point they had to drive through one 1km of no man's land, which is full of landmines.
She was unfazed about being a woman travelling solo in the car, although there was a small number in the group she was with.
“I would say that because I was a woman on my own, I think I actually got an easier time of it,” she said.
“Because men are men throughout the world. What I found, particularly in Senegal… is they have a certain understanding and dynamic when they're confronted or when they're presented with a woman who's a white westerner, and who's front and centre of the conversation.”
“It kind of puts them on the backfoot because they're not used to that interaction.”
She said being conversational and offering small items like a sachet of coffee changed the energy and the discourse.
Starting in Spain, she travelled through Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, before arriving in Gambia.
The trip took two weeks.
She made her way to Banjul, the capital, where she met up with her partner. Together they stayed on a further 10 days, travelling up the Gambia River about 600km to the compounds that are away from the tourist sites.
At one point they travelled through a town and the town crier came out and cycling around on his rickeky old bike he announced that Ms Ferguson was there with bras.
Women all gathered around the table she had set up and within ten minutes hundreds and hundreds of bras were taken.
She had taken 3,500 bras with her; it was all her car could fit.
“It was a Kia Carnival seven-seater. We took all the seats out, and my friends made a plinth of wooden panels and the bras went in underneath. I had a bed on the top. It was just the best car in the in the world,” she said.
Ms Ferguson left the car in Gambia and has set up a foundation called Bra Run Gambia, which is being run by a friend in the area who lends the vehicle out to those who need it for emergency purposes.
In addition, the car will be there ready for her to use again when she returns with more bras.
The trip was sponsored by Crest Rope Access, Sca Access, The Liffey Bar, La Linea Proseal and individuals.
Aside from donations of bras from the public she also received bras from Marks and Spencer and Boux Avenue.