Saturday, November 15, 2008

So it Turns out, I Do Have a Job!

Hey all! So I know it’s been a while, and the reasons for that are as follows.

  1. We haven’t really had power for the last two or three weeks, but as of yesterday, it seems to be back.
  2. I have been working like crazy.

Reason number one needs no further explanation. Reason number two gets into the fun stuff. As I mentioned earlier, my partner Eric and I have been trying to move the Girls’ Mentoring Center to a new location. As it turns out, we have the perfect place. There is a youth center in the middle of town that had a room available. As it stands currently, the youth center attracts mostly boys who go there to play soccer and volley ball after school, so they were pretty happy at the idea of doing something to attract more girls to use the center’s resources. So Eric and I have been working 7 days a week trying to get the thing open. Luckily, last Tuesday, we had our first group of girls come and it was amazing!!!!!! We have 20 junior high girls who are super excited about doing just about everything: English, French, sports, theatre…they want to do it all. We’re also helping to get about 15 high school girls to come. In total, we’ll open Monday through Thursday afternoons for academic lessons for the girls, and on Friday mornings we’ll do fun activities. We’re also going to be open a couple mornings a week to hold classes in finance and such for women in cooperatives.

So yeah, that’s pretty much been my life for the past couple of weeks. It’s finally gotten a little cooler, so my life doesn’t revolve quite as much around trying to avoid the sun. And now for my favorite part of blogging: writing about things that would never happen back home.

Story 1
: I am currently having a lot of trouble sleeping. It’s not because of stress, and with the power outage, it’s certainly not because people are playing their music too loudly. Instead, it’s because I sleep on the roof and there is a full moon, and it’s so bright it’s like trying to sleep with a spotlight in your face. I know: life is tough.

Story 2
: There is this lady who “works” at the women’s ministry (I’m not actually sure if she works there or if she just hangs out). One day a little while ago, she took off her ring (which glows in the dark and is now my absolute favorite piece of jewelry) and bracelet and put them on me and then told me I had to come visit her at her store. I told her I didn’t know where her store is, and she assured me that I did. I then assured her that I didn’t, and then she said “Raasik digdig”, which means “Your head is broken”. She then wraps her hands around my neck and pretends to strangle me. Then she spends 5 minutes singing in Hassaniya and leaves. I should have probably mentioned first that this woman is at least 80 years old and is missing some teeth, if that helps you picture the scene at all.

Well, now I see this woman all the time. She’s always just kind of hanging around the office. A couple of days ago, she was angry with me because I still hadn’t gone to her store. So after we were done with a meeting for work, she grabs me by the hand and pulls me, along with my friend Eric (not the Eric who I work at the GMC with, but the other Eric), down the street towards her store. She has mentioned several times that she would like to marry Eric, but that is not the point. Anyway, so we finally get to her store, and it’s all stuff that has been hand painted by women from the co-ops, so it finally made sense why she was at work all the time. Then she starts looking through the store for gifts to give to Eric and me. By now, more and more co-op women start piling into the store to watch the freak show. She found a very nice purse for me (seriously…hand painted leather), and bunch of women started putting bracelets on me. Then, the old woman finds a hand painted gun holder for Eric. Just what he wanted! But they weren’t done…she still hadn’t found what she was looking for to give to the man she wants to marry. Eventually she pulls out this straw hat that must be a foot tall and puts it on Eric’s head and tells him it will help him keep the sun out of his eyes. He tried to just say thank you and carry it, but no, they wanted him to wear it home.

I only walked with Eric in that hat for a block or so before we parted ways, but seeing the reactions of people on the street to the white boy wearing a massive multicolored straw hat was enough to make it the best block I’ve ever walked!

Story 3:
I have one other female site mate, Edna. Edna is Mexican-American, which is a key piece of information for this story. One day we were “spending the day” with my host family (people here never ask you just to come over for lunch. They ask you to spend the day with them, which usually means between 4 and 5 hours). Anyway, Bébé, one of my host sisters, turns to Edna and says, “Are your parents toubabs?” We both looked at each other and started laughing. Edna’s reply was “Not the same way Becky’s parents are toubabs”. Surprisingly, that was enough of an explanation for Bébé.

Story 4:
I was eating dinner at my host family’s house the other evening, and was playing with one of my favorite kids in the world, Baba Tucksill (I’ll post pictures of him soon, and I know you’ll fall in love with him too). So Baba Tucksill was jumping and dancing around as usual, when one of my host sisters, Rama, starts yelling “Veda” at him, which I’ve heard them call him a lot. So finally I asked why they call him that. She points to his butt, and says “Because this is not big. It’s flat like a mattress.” First, I laughed so hard I cried, and then I decided that I will now only call him Veda because it is just too funny that his nickname is “Flat Butt”. So now if you were ever curious how to tell someone they have a flat butt in Pulaar, you can call them “Veda”.

Okay, now I’m really done. I’ll try to get some pictures up soon. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving if I’m not in touch again before then. Thanks to all of you have sent letters…they are always a nice surprise.

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