it's really hard for me to not get annoyed at the women sometimes. fatou, especially. it's like we're related: i care about her but she gets drives me nuts with her loudness, obnoxiousness, and constant need to use my things. this morning she's been relentless in coming to my door and asking me for things.
it is a constant barrage of demands. aissatou, give me money for fish. aissatou, give me money for oil. aissatou, give me money for vegetables. aissatou, i want sugar. buy us some? aissatou, i need matches. aissatou, lend me a needle. aissatou, where is your string? give me some. aissatou, cut these onions. aissatou, give me a plastic bag. i could easily save up my plastic bags too but no, instead i'll give it to the kids to tear into shreds and throw into the bush and then come and ask you for the bags that you carefully save up for yourself in the future. aissatou, give me a nail. aissatou, lend me your tool even though i have one too. aissatou, take pictures o fme and then print them out for us. aaargh.
today specifically it's been money for fish, money for oil, matches, for me to pick rice, for me to babysit, and for a needle. she either comes herself or sends one of her kids, which makes it even more aggravating because the kids are always unclear and then i can't express my dismay. what is even more irritating is that they (because this is not to say that aram doesn't do this either, she just happens to be less annoying) use the word "abel," meaning "to lend." they use this even for the asking of things like matches (especially matches!!!), plastic bags, or nails, when in reality, it's not lending at all! it's annoying because it happens everyday and because matches are cheap (25CFA a box), but they refuse to buy them, because they know that i have them and am a pushover and will give them (because how do i get out of it?) matches when they ask for them. how come then can constantly afford to buy incense (about the same price) or toothcaps (500CFA) or beignets (50CFA) but they can't afford 25CFA for a box of matches that will last them 2 weeks?! what is most upsetting is that recently they've taken the liberty to entering my hut on their own and taking my matches. it drives me crazy.
i've been here for over a year now and i still can't solve this problem or that of money. i give money to talla for food and my water but instead he treats it like it is his slary and does god knows what with it. (this is a common issue that volunteers have with their monetary contributions.) the women come to me for money and i either refuse them and tell them that i've given talla money already but more times than others, i succumb because i feel bad and/or can't stand another day of eating the same damn crap we eat everyday and if i give some money, there is at least the chance of being fish or vegetables.
i can't directly give them the 20,000CFA/month i give talla because of cultural things and it causes conflicts. (i've tried, it was awkward and uncomfortable and ultimately did not work out.) if i don't give money but instead buy vegetables on my own in the market, they wind up selling the nice vegetables i buy them so that they can get money to buy crappier vegetables and use the leftover money to buy sugar or tea or candy and still come to me for money for fish or oil. it's overall one bug fucked up situations that happens over and over again and never ceases to make my stomach turn. i dread the sound of footsteps at my door because i know it means somebody's coming to ask for something and it can be so hard for me to refuse. sometimes i just want to scream at them to stop asking me for money but i'm pretty sure that won't be helpful. money matters is already something that i find difficult to talk about and then to have to talk about it in wolof and then there is always the nagging feeling that in comparison to them, i'm freakin' filthy rich and can totally afford to give them everything they want/need. but i didn't come all the way here just to be a money machine. that's not my job.
it's so incredibly awful and i'm so disgusted at this system of men controlling the money and therefore the women having no income of their own and their subsequent powerlessness and the lack of "shame" of having to ask somebody else for money everyday.