30/09/2013

Photography Time with Serigne - "It takes a long time to become young." Pablo Picasso

 Every day,  my little buddy Serigne comes to say hello to us. Today, not only did he want to be in photos, but he also wanted to learn how to take them. 
Photographer in the making. 
 Showing us how they do it in Senegal.

28/09/2013

Religion In Senegal

Muslim girl.

Religion is a prominent part of the Senegalese culture. Its effects can be seen in the way they dress to the way they greet each other. Girls with the hems of their skirts brushing their ankles will welcome you with ‘As-salamu alaykum’, Arabic for ‘peace be upon you’. 

Mosque in Kaolack
As my Djakarta, Motorcycle-taxi, sped towards the mosque, I was shocked by the extravagant white building growing before me.  I looked to right and saw the dusty roads of Kaolack that I had become accustomed to then looked to the left and was immediately taken to a different place, a different Kaolack.   If the importance of religion was not already clear, it was definitely clear now.


video

Walking into the Mosque, the roof, the walls, the floor were all decorated with intricate designs and rich colours. I took off my shoes and placed them with all the others.  As I looked around, I saw only men and I was immediately confused. Where are the women here? I turned to see a small man talking to Mountaga, our friend and escort for the day. We are immediately taken to a different section of the mosque, the women’s section, which was just as exciting as the men’s.    






27/09/2013

Here is the Sun

Locals asked me to take a photo of them 

"Voici le Soleil
Qui fait tendre la poitrine des vierges
Qui fait sourire sur les bancs verts les vieillards
Qui réveillerait les morts sous une terre maternelle."  
- excerpt from Aux Tirailleurs sénégalais morts pour la France by Léopold Sédar Senghor, a famous Senegalese poet

"Here is the Sun
That makes virgins’ chests stick out
That makes old men smile on benches
That would awaken the dead under a maternal earth."
- translated exerpt  Aux Tirailleurs sénégalais morts pour la France by Léopold Sédar Senghor

25/09/2013

365 Days of Summer


Trainees at the lycée
From the sweltering heat to the dusty roads, I can safely say that I am no longer in England. I've been in Senegal for a week and five days and every day is as surprising and intriguing as the last. I've spent my days working in the centre and exploring my new habitat, while my nights usually involve dancing at the lycée (school) or sitting outside my host family's house, chatting until it's morning.

Learning how to cook with the trainees
A few days ago, my partner was convinced into learning how to cook Ceebu Jen (rice and fish), while I went to the lycée to help them set up for the summer school activities taking place that afternoon.

 'Ana Aissatou', or 'Where is Susanna' in English, asked a friendly trainee.

 'Aissatou is cooking Ceebu Jen.' I replied. 

The whole courtyard filled with laughter and clapping. 'Aissatou is cooking Ceebu Jen! How amazing. Why are you not there?' exclaimed another trainee. 

I laughed and smiled, pleased with myself for getting out of a difficult morning of slaving away in the kitchen. 'I came to help you of course.' 

All their heads shook. They were not going to let me get away with this. 'You will cook for us.'

I nodded. I knew the day would come, not this soon, but I knew it would.  'Suba', or for those who manage to not speak Wolof, 'tomorrow', I replied. 

14/09/2013

Two Posts In One

Part One.

As I wave goodbye to my mother and my two best friends for what could be a year, tears form in my eyes.  Am I really doing this? I feel a sense of regret about the whole thing. I don’t want to go. I’m leaving everything I know... everything I love. I know I will enjoy it, but I feel home sick when I haven’t even left them yet so how will I feel when I’m actually there or even worse, in two months time!?  I run back, giving them another hug before bursting into tears. Like an infection, my tears cause them to cry simultaneously.  You never know how important people are to you until you have to leave them.

Lunch on the airplane
As I write this, I sit in the airport at Portugal as we stop there for four hours.  I’m excited, nervous and a little sick. I haven’t had a great start to the day.  I was physically sick on the way to the airport, which was pretty embarrassing as I didn’t even make it to the lift, let alone the bathroom. Then I apparently didn’t have enough documents for my visa. After hours of putting money into a machine, trying to understand why it wouldn’t print, I had to just risk it or risk missing my flight. They didn’t even check if I had any document in the end! All the time I could have spent with my mother and my best friends wasted. I must admit, I miss them so much, but I know it will worth it. I find myself wondering what they are doing right now. I’m especially anxious about leaving my mother as this is the first time she’ll be living alone in 27 years as my father passed away from cancer this year. The reality of his illness didn’t hit me for a while, but the closer I get to leaving, the more I feel it. I questioned whether or not I should go several times, but my mother being the amazing person she is, encouraged me to go. Her words exactly were “at least I’ll be losing a family member for a good reason this time”. If you know my mother then you know she is the kindest sweetest person you’ll ever meet. By the time you read this, I’ll probably be in Senegal, but until then au revoir!

Part Two.

They rest of the day was amazing. It is marvellous here...The sun, the beach, the food. I adore this place.


The food alone shows the effects the French has on this African country.  For breakfast, we had baguettes and for lunch we had a traditional Senegalese cuisine called Ceebu Jen. 

Ceebu Jen

   ‘Ceeb’ is  rice in Wolof and ‘Jen’ is fish.  The other volunteers claim that it is very spicy, but I can’t really taste it. 


We also went to the beach and enjoyed the African sun. Many locals came to talk to us and sell to us. 
 

As my French is so poor I’ve been saying the wrong things to them! I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t leave me alone when I told them that I had no money for them. It took me the whole day to realise that what I was saying was absolutely wrong.  What I said was neither French nor Wolof. Typical Precious


 Au revoire (French) &  Be benen yoon (Wolof) 



03/09/2013

"I'm okay today. I'll be okay tomorrow. And the next day after that I'll still be okay. But in a year you will see me, I'll be amazing." - Unknown





May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields 
and until we meet again, 
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
- old Irish saying