Thursday, May 26, 2011

waydi debbo na danni

Back in the capital again… this time for business.

The last few days have been a much needed break from the stress of village life. I am coming to feel very comfortable and happy in my village but it is nice to eat some American food and speak in English for a while. Luckily this trip came at the same time as the training for a group of my friends and it has been SO nice to see everyone again. After months in village everyone is looking very different. It is so great to talk with everyone, and compare notes. We are all enjoying some good food, drinks, and the beach.

I’ve still been taking a lot of time to get to know my village. I’ve been to all the compounds and met everyone. With my counterpart I have been conducting interviews to find out what projects people feel the village needs most. I’ve also held some meeting in the village to find out the same thing. These along with my observations has pointed out a few areas to focus work in:

1) Improving water availability. With the pumps out of commission so often fetching water can take anywhere from a half hour to three every day. No woman should have to do this.

2) Combating malaria. With Neem cream, bed nets, and environmental cleanup.

3) Improving crop yields in both the farms and gardens. So composting, natural pesticides, fences…

4) Education, especially jolly phonics.

5) Improving nutrition, especially with children. I want to plant as many Moringa trees as possible.

So I’m at the beginning of this two years… you’ll have to wait and see what I get done.

I’ve been in village for a while so I’ll just describe some of my favorite moments:

- Working with the women to heat up nails and put holes into irrigation pipes for the drip irrigation system in our garden

- Making them a jolly phonics visual aids for the nursery class on rice bags (because they were cheap and available). Dropping them off in the school with the kids was so much fun. They sang for me. I’ve been spending more and more time at the school. I really enjoy hanging out there; the teachers speak English really well and are passionate about teaching. I showed up one day when the 4th grade teacher was out sick. So I took over the afternoon class and we worked on using the present progressive tense by acting out charades of different English verbs. It was so much fun.

- Translating Sleeping Beauty (waydi debbo na danni- pretty woman sleeping) into the best Pular I could for my little sister and her friends. I didn’t know how to say things like fairy or spindle but it went rather well.

- Taking short trips to Basse, Chamin, and Bansang. I biked to Bansang about 35k away to see a friend and go to the market. Getting to see different parts of the country has been great. Its surprisingly diverse despite being such a small country. Chamin is beautiful, full of palm trees and right by the river. Basse is super hot but has a great pc hangout and a large market.

- Dropping the bride off at her new village with a large number of women from my village. It is the third day in a series of celebrations. A car left stuffed with people all singing and with piles of gifts the new bride will use to make her home. We arrived in the morning a feasted on Gambian dishes: sweet milk tea, benachin, juice. We stuffed ourselves. There was lots of dancing. The traditional style is to form a circle around one person dancing in the middle. There is lots of drumming and clapping and booty shaking. Always I got pulled into the center much to the enjoyment of everyone present. We celebrated until late into the night and slept on whatever surface we could find.

I’m heading back to village soon, I’ll be back in a few weeks for my in service training. Thanks for reading!