October 28, 2010


I recently returned to village from a two week glorious feast of America's finest. I saw my wonderful friends and family, traffic that moves with laws and stops at lights not flocks of goats, and the gluttony of our food warehouses called grocery stores.

Saying goodbye to America was tearful; making the conscience decision to trade in heated, running water for bucket baths and my western throne for the squatter took more than a few deep breaths.

My shower is on the left. My toilet on the right.

I brought back to Senegal ten newly acquired pounds, jars of peanut butter and gifts for the village. Thank you to everyone that gave bags of goodies. My village is over the moon with their shinny new jewelry and toys. Barkedji is also very in support of finding a cure to breast cancer (thanks Donna); the bright pink key chains have become a status good.

Bubbles from the wedding are a HUGE hit with kids and adults alike!

This is my "grandma" wearing her new jewelry and huge smile.

My little sister sporting her new, fun glasses.

While at home a common question was 'what kind of work are you doing?'. A simple question that turns out is incredibly difficult to answer. I usually responded with 'I plant some trees and vaccinate some babies' which is what I do, but it doesn't begin to really explain what we do a Peace Corps volunteers. I recently had my Action Plan actualization meeting. I gathered my potential work partners and respected community members to discuss my long term work plans. Gardens, tree planting, hand washing and girls education are some of the main bullets on my plan. The meeting was helpful for the check list oriented, time frame American in me. It also helped to clear up that my purpose in the village is not to vomit money.

After the meeting looking at my tangible work goals I felt a sense of validation. Some days that I spend laying around on a mat in a pool of my own sweat I wonder if I am actually doing any good here. Having a tangible set of projects, with the community's blessing, went alone way to reassure me. Then my Seneglese mom rocked my perspective.

She told me that while I was in American my little brother came up to her and said, "Mom, today Fama (my local name) has been gone for one week. So, she will come back in one more week, right?" Wow.

I want to change my answer to the 'what have you been working on' question. I have been building a home and making friends worlds away from what I know.

This is my mom with her new grandson.