Dear family and friends!
Im safe and sound in Thies Senegal. Im at a ciber cafe right now and using a french keyboard so i apologize for any typeos. Things are going well and I am great.
Africa is HOT right now…its really humid because its the rainy season and people are cranky because they are fasting all day for Ramadan. It is beautiful though and the Senegalese have been nothing but hospitable to our group. There are forty of us here training in four different sectors ; agroforestry, ag extension, small business interprise, and ecotourism. I a, zorking in agroforestry and our group just planted 200 trees with the help of our trainers.
All 40 of us have been placed in homestay villages near Thies. Myself and three others are in Mbour a coastal village on the west side of Senegal. My family is wonderful and I will be living with them for the next couple of weeks. I am beginning to learn Mandinka, a language spoken in quite a bit of West Africa. My host family speaks it but they also speak Wolof, the ,ajor language spoken in Senegal other than french. I ca,e in knowing nothing, have been ,aking a fool of myself trying to understand them, but am co,ing along slowly but surely !
We will be in training for the next 7 weeks and then will be sent to the community we will live in for the following two years. I will speak Mandinka, but will try and pick up some Wolof, and am pri,arily being taught my language in french. So you can imagine that my head is swimming by the end of every day.
Here in Senegal, we are fed many traditional dishes. We always have bread at breakfast, and then some sort of rice or millet dish for lunch and dinner. Because many of the Senegalese are fasting they eat very early ? and then break their fast around 715 with tea, dates, and bread. Then they start eating dinner usually around 930 or 10. I have definitely had to adjust my eating schedule but am doing fairly well so far.
I am posting my contact information so please send me letters, CARE PACKAGES, and of course some love ! I miss you all and would love to hear from you…any calls i receive are free, so if you happen to have a calling carda round dial my number. I hope to be able to post as often as possible but wont know what that will look like until I have a pretty regular schedule !
My love to you all back in the states or wherever you are ! Thanks to the letters and package i already received, its helpful knowing there are people thinking of me !
Love to you all,
Mariama (my senegal name)