September 11, 2011

Give a child a dream.

Here's the thing, I have a choreographed victory dance that rivals Cirque du soleil, it changes lives. The tragedy is that I am no good at soccer. So, the youth of Senegal have not seen my victory jive. I taught a few kids how to play catch. We even got as far as playing 'pickle', but baseball is equipment intensive and trying to describe the gazillion rules of the game got intense. So.........I need a basketball court.

I figure that my natural hugeness, and fact that I have been expose to basketball since childhood, will allow me to dominate some unsuspecting middle schoolers.

Exhibit AThis was last year at the high school in Linguere. Previous generations of Peace Corps volunteers wrote grants to refurbish the court, and started a basketball program in partnership with the high school's gym teachers. In hopes to introduce the sport to the kids in the village, they held a few clinics where kids from the villages came into Linguere for a day of practice and scrimmages. Just look at me owning the paint.

Due to a lack of funding, teacher strikes and coordination, we were unable to continue transporting groups of kids into Linguere for clinics. I have not heard the end of this from students. They tell me constantly how much they enjoyed the clinics, and ask when we are starting again. Leaping from the foundation of previous work and harnessing the fervor of the students, my fellow Peace Corps volunteers and I have put together this gem--Linguere Basketball Initiative

Through the Initiative, we hope to construct three NCAA regulation sized basketball courts, one in Barkedji (my charming village), one in Diaglie (home to Kim Hall, my nearest neighbor) and one in Ngaraff (home to Emily Naftalin). While constructing the courts is the majority of what makes up the intimidatingly large budget, we hope it is only the beginning. The courts will add to our larger mission of fostering the development of strong, confident leaders of tomorrow. Basketball will act as a vehicle through which teamwork, communication and gender equality can be learned.

The thought of kids playing and laughing while they shoot hoops is soul filling. When I was in school I remember days when I had to rush from softball to girl scouts to dance practice. As far as extra curricular activities go here, it's soccer on a sandy field for boys and any club that I am running for girls. By giving the students a court, we may be giving them a hobby, a passion, a set of goals.

This is my Environmental Club. We just made a tree nursery, ie we mixed dirt and poop and put it in sacks. Look how much fun we were having. Imagine the reaction to an inter class basketball or volleyball scrimmage. Epic. Cirque du soleil victory dance type epic.

We recently returned from a dinner meeting with NBA's West Africa representative. That's right, Peace Corps is pooping in a hole, eating with my hand and pitching projects over drinks. Thanks to our country director's persistence and connections we now have a very beneficial relationship with the NBA and more specifically SEEDS (ie fatty check on the way and potential celebrity appearance at trainings in our villages!!!). The rest is up to us; we still need financial help. Anything you can give will go a long way in helping make our project a reality.

Thank you in advance. Also, while we are fundraising I can't see who has contributed, but be assured that when I get the list at the end, all who donated will receive a hand crafted, beautifully colored, Albright original thank you card. Depending on your generosity it may even have glitter.

Lots of Love.

September 10, 2011


I had every intention of writing a beautiful entry. Then I found this...

I think you'll understand.

September 09, 2011

Glory, glory, Alhumdililai

My soul is in a good place. Life is perfection.

I'll give you a quick summary of events before I get to the meat of this word slab.
I made it through my second, and last forever, month of fasting!!!! This year was much easier. I was ready with many coping strategies: go to the Catholic's house for lunch, go on a solo picnic in the bush, tell everyone I am pregnant and cannot fast. The latter may, or may not pose a logistical problem in about nine months...
Apparently, the twentieth day of fasting is a cause for celebration. I rode into Linguere around 10 am ready to nurse my sick volunteer friend back to health and maybe watch a movie or ten. Things started well. Until 11am.

This went on for a long time...a really long time. This is another taken at 8pm.

This went on until 7am the next morning. Needless to say, I have drafted a "thank you" letter to give to those responsible for proposing and enforcing noise ordinances in America.

The Main Event: Korite
After our moon of fasting, we celebrated the end of Ramadan with Korite. We didn't know the exact end date of Ramadan. It depends on the moon, the evening we see the first tiny silver of the moon we stop fasting. So, when we saw the fingernail moon the bowls got turned upside down and an impromptu dance party started.

Shortly after the celebration dance, the womenfolk and I began peeling buckets of onions and potatoes for the Korite lunch.

This is me and my namesake, Fama, wearing our fancy morning clothes. I was given this sweet red and black number by another friend in my village!

These are the kids and my dad, looking strangely like Jesus.

The day of, the women cut onions and potatoes and then we cut more. We prepare the meat and cut more onions. Meanwhile the men and the kids put on their fancy Senegalese clothes and go to the mosque.

This is me and my mom cutting 1/15 of the onions. Those yellow cubes are pure, delicious MSG. I can't get enough of it. If I'm out of the village, not eating Senegalese food, I get the MSG withdraw shakes.

How cute are the girls in their Korite outfits?

After we eat lunch, we lay around until it is cool enough to shower and put on the fancy, fancy threads. Then we hit the village. Everybody walks around to great the other houses and ask for forgiveness for any wrong doings. The kids go searching for candy or money.

This is me in my fancy afternoon outfit with 2 of my best friends. Another volunteer owns this dress. We do a region dress swap so that we can appear to have new outfits for holidays and baptisms, but don't have to spend the money to own 15 new, flashy Senegalese outfits.

Oh and got my hair did. My friend on the left did it. It hurt like the devil. Here is a close up.

Post Korite, in celebration of making it through another Ramadan, I went to Dakar to eat impressively filthy amounts of food. Dakar truly is the land of plenty. I ate Korean, sea food, American, ice cream, beer and happiness.

If you follow my blog closely, HA not even my mother does, you may be asking 'where is the fundraising request that was promised in the previous entry?' Well, bloggers, it is here
Please help me help kids.

I hope to post again tomorrow to write about the project in detail.

'ppreciate cha.