Thursday, August 12, 2010

In Service Training, Goree Island and English Camp

It has been a busy month away from  sight and even though I have enjoyed the luxuries of running water, internet, diverse food choices and english, I am itching to get back to the calmness and quietness of village life.

My month started with a visit to Mbour to see my old host family and then a two week training in Thies. Training was intense and for entertainment sake I will not go into too much detail.   I now have new motivation to turn my backyard into a perma-culture dreamland, build some latrines and organize some health trainnings One night we ended up going to a hole in the wall dance club. It was in a completely shady part of town, but the live music was incredible. Here is a picture, hopefully i can get a video up soon.  The band is Waflash and the artist is Ma Sané.

After the madness of training,  I was fortunate to take a day and play tourist in Dakar.  A brother of one of the volunteers was in town so I joined them for a trip to Gorée island.  Gorée actually translates to "Good harbor".  After learning about its history, the name "good" is far from anything this place represents.  Between the 16th and 19th century, it was used as a transit island for slaves who were shipped across the Atlantic.  There is no need to go into detail about what the conditions were like because we have all taken history and know the terrible things our past entails.  It is now a tourist attraction as well as a place of residence for many.  The island is made from volcanic material and the coastline is absolutely stunning.

The next week was spent volunteering at a high school in Dakar at an english camp. This was by far the best thing I have done since being in country.  We spent a week teaching kids english through games and songs.  I got the chance to talk with the girls and ask them about their dreams.  Many of them wanted to be doctors, policemen, pilots, and teachers.  We talked about challenges they may face as women and how they felt about them.  It was really interesting to hear their responses and I felt lucky to witness such strong, intellectual, and motivated young girls.  We talked a lot about expressing yourself and being proud of who you are.  We got a bunch of magazines and had them design their own flag. We wanted them to create something that represented themselves. It turned out to be a great success and something I plan to do again in village.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with a school in Dakar, especially because it is so different than village. It allowed me to see the extreme contrasts that exist in this country and how different city life is.

Playing Steal the Bacon....It was Hilarious! 

Today is the start of Ramadan and as I prepare to re-enter my small oasis, I am a little nervous of the difficulties fasting may bring. I am also excited for this challenge and plan to embrace the spiritual qualities it has to offer. My own personal quest to be content and the gratitude that comes from this place will be my point of focus for the next month.  So until then my friends, Happy Ramadan!