Wolof of the week: Bekk na- I am happy
Greetings from little Holland! The compound here is overflowing with Dutch people. There are four adults and around 11 students here to experience Senegal and lend a hand wherever it is needed. Around the dinner table, 5+ languages are used and I understand around 10% of what is said which is a lot more awesome than it sounds. I can feel myself becoming more of a person who values actions over words to express sentiments. I feel close to so many people who I can speak very little with. I guess there is no such thing as small talk with body language. It has also been so interesting to watch the Dutch group take in and experience Senegalese life. Many of them have never been in a developing country before, and may not have even seen poverty like we have in the States (Holland seems pretty pristine, if you ask me). They are kind, eager to learn, and are driven by a strong love of God that I find endearing and confusing.
Yours truly is still steadily hiking up the culture and language learning curves. It turns out that I have a knack for Wolof, something that is really surprising for someone who speaks a grand total of one language fluently in a family that speaks six plus. The people that I am surrounded with are just so patient, interesting, and kind that I can't help but learn it quickly so that I can eventually pick their brains. This kind of environment is hard to emulate in a classroom.
Moments of note:
-Nights with the moon so bright that you don't need a flashlight to climb a steep ladder to the roof. There, people with guitars are waiting to share soft music into the night.
-Words of enlightenment from those who's hearts have been filled by Senegal's bustling environment. Words that change from discomfort and confusion to appreciation, wonder, and peace. A mother and daughter from Arizona came to visit for a few days, and their reaction to Senegal was so touching and beautiful. Kelley, the mother, spoke often of how her eyes had been opened.
-A concert, lit up on a basketball court, played by my talented friends and a few visiting artists. Knowing that this music needs to be shared, nurtured, and disentangled by the static inconvenience of broken equipment and lack of space (fundraiser coming soon).
-Deep talks about the beauty of the world, differences in beliefs, and the goodness of people with Dany and Alfred. I am so thankful to Dany for being the bridge for me to come to Senegal in the first place, and doing everything possible to make sure that I have what I need and more. Nadine, his wife, and Herma, his mother, have also been guiding lights for me and I could never stop being grateful.
-Finding myself sitting at the front of a community health program's closing ceremony. I watched as young women put on a wonderful skit detailing what they had learned about women's health, sexual harassment, violence, prevention, and rights. I got to meet a few inspiring leaders of the project at World Renew, people's who's names I had seen many times on health surveys I have been (slowly) compiling.
-Gazing out over the blue and green ocean to a lighthouse that Dany says is the Western-most point of Africa. Feeling like Rose at the helm of the Titantic/Africa (minus Jack and minus capsizing). Eating my weight in fresh shrimp and Thiouf fish.
-Moments of connection around lunch bowls, on drives to and from the airport, over attaya (sweet sweet sweet green tea), through music, on walks to the beach, on hot hot days, on hot hot hot days, while helping to prepare lunch in the kitchen hut, while slicing mangoes and fingers in the house, while sitting around a campfire, while sitting near the dying embers of a campfire hours later, in English, in broken Wolof, in broken French, in the mispronunciation of common Dutch phrases, over candlelit dinners, through prayer, through pain. I am with good people.
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Aywa International is a US-registered 501C3 working in Senegal. We bring together a community of global and local players committed to finding and implementing solutions to socio-economic and environmental challenges.
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