Hello to all and I wish you all a merry christmas and happy new year now in case I am unable to post before then. Because senegal is a primarily muslim culture, there arent too many christmas celebrations. I did however just celebrate the major holiday for muslims called Tabaski and wanted to tell you a little bit about it...
Tabaski is the holiday representing when abraham was going to sacrifice his son God provided a lamb in return. So on this day throughout senegal, lambs or sheep or goats are slaughtered in every compound and a big meal is made. Henna on the feet and hands is also pretty common among women, of which i participated! Everyone gets dressed up in their grand boubous and goes around greeting each other asking for forgiveness for the ways they might have harmed one another this year and also giving small tokens like candy, cola nuts, or small amounts of money. My family did all of these things and the people of Maleme Niani know how to celebrate a holiday! Tabaski is much like Christmas in that everyone comes home to visit their family and they stay for a week or more. There were lots of new people in the community who came in from school and lots of dancing into the wee hours! If you ever want to learn how to dance, take some lessons from the senegalese: they know how! The past week or so has really been enjoyable and exciting getting a taste of senegalese culture in a different atmosphere than every day life in the village!
In my every day life I thought i would fill you in a little bit about what my day might look like.
My city has limited electricity, my compound does not have it but others do, so people are often getting up with the sun and getting ready for dinner and then bed when the sun goes down. I usually wake up around 7 and then the day is really up for grabs as to what i will do. Some days I help around the compound and go to the market in the mornings other days i might go to the field, or go to a meeting to learn about some of the groups in the community and to meet different people. I recently went with my counterpart around the community to get information concerning a future mosquito net distribution that we are hoping to do before the rainy season. Lunch is usually around 2pm followed by tea. This is usually the hottest part of the day so often people are in their compounds resting and chatting or visiting others in their compounds. Often this continues until around 5 or so when it begins to cool down again. This is all time for me to continue working on understanding and hearing the language. The evenings are also up for grabs as to what might happen. Dinner is usually around 8 and I have often gone to other compounds or meeting places either before or after dinner. By the time 9-10 comes though I am exhausted from continuous foreign language, hot weather, and the both amazing and frustrating senegalese culture I encounter at all times!
Personally I am doing really well emotionally and surprisingly well physically lately! I had a really wonderful time celebrating Tabaski and couldnt ask for a better family and a better community to work with in the near future! I really look forward to what is to come and it makes me want to become much more immerssed and much more fluent in the language!
Please keep me updated send me information about your lives! I wish you all a very merry chrsitmas and thank you for your support and encouragement!