My 6 Month Anniversary!!c

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

As the title indicates: I have officially been in Senegal for 6 months!! It’s the shortest, longest 6 months I have ever had…if that makes any sense. Life has been busy around my compound and village lately.
When I returned from my time in Kaolack, to my surprise the entire village as flooded…think streets turned to rivers sort of flooding. It was gross…there was overflowing douches and horse poop and all of it floating in the “rivers”. But, it was no worse than Kaolack, which was also flooded.
My host brother wanted my help distributing trees to each compound in the village, so we went around with charettes (horse carts) and gave out 2 trees to all the compounds in my village; a pretty awesome task, but so important for the health and aesthetic of our village.

The same day we hosted an Ngente, or naming ceremony, for our neighbors. In Senegal the ngente’s occur 10 days after the child’s birth and involve everyone who is related to the family. It is a highly ritualalized affair. When the parents decide on a name, the baby is given to the Imam, and the Imam whispers the name into the babies ear then the griots (town crier) calls out the babies name for everyone to hear. The baby is brought back to the mom in the room, and from what I observed there is something involving hair and salt before the mother and baby are allowed to leave their room. Then there is a party, and lots of food! So we killed a sheep. Since it is Ramadan, all the food and drink was saved for after sundown.

In other Village news, the peanut harvest is beginning to come in, and now among the other various and odd skills I have learned in Senegal (such as killing and plucking chicken and skinning vermin) I can add harvesting and separating peantus to the list. This is a monumental task, since all of the work is done by hand, and the women sit around for hours tearing the peanuts off of the vines, and eventually shelling them. Farming takes up about 90% of the arable land in Senegal, with 60% making up the peanut basin east of Dakar where I live. 36% of that land is used on, you guessed it, peanuts! So the nuts are incredibly important for the region.

Unfortunatly I came back from Kaolack with dysentery (I will spare you the details), but needless to say I went to sleep the morning of the naming ceremony and didn’t move for 2 days, except to use the facilities. It sucked, but it’s the first time I have gotten sick in country where I didn’t want to go home!

Other good news, Ramdan is over! Woot. However to my dismay, apparently the holiday extends for some time. I went into town to try and get some errands run, and none of the businesses were open a week after Korite (the official end of Ramadan party). I was told by another volunteer not to plan on doing serious project work until Tabaski (the largest Islamic holiday that is in November), because people kind of take a while to “get back in the swing of things”. WTF. I am going to try to do a latrine project anyway, so I guess I will find out!!

My family will be having an Ngente this week because my sister had a baby girl!!!! I am so excited, she was miserably pregnant, and now I am an aunt!


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