Monday, March 2, 2009

trees for the future

after WAIST in dakar, wolfgang and i eventually got home on thursday morning but after a day there i had to leave on friday morning for a meeting with didier at world vision and to go to kaffrine/JC's village/ngodiba to help JC out with a trees for the future formation (training).

i left wolfie in the village, filled up his bowls, and left the back door open a smidgen. i had decided to bike to mbirkelane which was a stupid idea because so much of the road is sand sand sand. i was huffing and puffing within the first ten minutes. it took me nearly half an hour to get a bit beyond mbanda peul and iw as already infuriated the bike ride because it wasn't so much of a bike ride but my jumping on and off the bike, hitting 2 seconds of bikable road only to then hit a sand dune. turns out, abdou dia (the village chief) was behind me the whole time and finally sidled up to me as i was pushing my bike, snickering at me and remarking about how the road is sandy. we walked together for a while and discussed the latrine project but finally a stretch of good road showed up and he sent me off since we were both concerned about my being late for my 9am meeting.

i eventually got to WV at 9:34am, washed my face, and commenced my meeting with didier. it was cool because he treated me like a colleague, introducing me to everybody who works an important office and truly seeking a partnership between our two organizations. i was a little worn out and flustered from the bike ride so had a hard time understanding everything but we managed to discuss what i would like to do and what he would like to do in regards to health work in the area. there are lots of good ideas but i tink the best solution is for me to work with him a little but to really try and push for a health volunteer to be placed there, since there is so much work that can be done. he wants me to do all this stuff that i don't think i am really trained fopr and moreover, th enext few months i want to focus on trees, but simultaneously, i didn't want to disappoint and ruin the chance for a good partnership. we are going to have another meeting with his boss on the 16th.

after the meeting i hopped onto an al-hum to go to kaffrine where i met up with jc and after running a few errands, we headed back to her village. we had luch and then made a porridge for her dad who has been very ill with a foot infection recently. the porridge is packed full of nutrients and is supposed to be for malnourished children but i 'm sure was equally beneficial to the ailing keba (her dad). it had peanut butter, bananas, a little sugar, water, and oil and was mixed into millet flour.

we then headed out to ngodiba -- an hours walk through the bush in the heat -- to help ethan and gabe, two guys from trees for the future, with wolof translations. they had come (from the states) to do some filming, attend the big training, and to check up on how the ngo is doing in country. jc's been their liason for a good chunk of time and working her tail off with/for them but she asked me to come out and help her for the training. both ethan and gabe are returned peace corps volunteers so of course there was an instant camraderie.

most of the afternoon involved walking to different fields all over the gigantic village of ngodiba and translating. when we got back we were totally tired but omar (the senegalese trees for the future relais) insisted on giving us dinner which took hours to prepare even though it was just eggs and macaroni. i'll have to admit that most of the evening was rather agitating and i couldn't adopt my american mentality to senegalese hospitality. by the time jc and i got out of there and walked through the bush in the dark night, it was past 11pm. i was pooped from what felt like the longest day ever and promptly passed out.

the next morning we got up super early and again walked an hour to ngodiba where things were getting set up for the training. i got a TFTF t-shirt and felt rather official. i spent the whole day sitting next to and muttering translations into gabe's ear, which -- though tiring -- helped the day go by faster than if i had just been there for the PCV presence (made up by all the volunteers in the area -- shelley, ian, susannah, matt, ben, and lindsay). later in the afternoon i read out names and materials for the "giving out of materials" period. by the time the training was over at 6pm-ish, jc and i were pretty spent.

still, there was a bit more work to be done -- we were going to interview omar in his field -- so it wasn't time to go home yet. i called the village to tell them that i wouldn't be getting back that day, but the next (sunday) and that i would meet up with them at the market. at that point, talla, in a rather panicked voice, asked me if i had brought my cat with me. i told him no, thinking it was an odd question. this threw him into a frenzy of fast wolof -- he hadn't seen my cat since i left and he was certain that it was gone, it had run, left, disappeared. my heart sank and i liked through my teeth, telling him that it would be okay, the cat would come back, while my mind conjured up images of a dead wolfgang leviticus, eaten by snakes or hyenas or buzzards.

i got off the phone and panicked, called chris, my sister, my parents. jc tried her best to comfort me. it was hard though because i wanted to be freaking out about wolfgang but there was work to be done and moreover, there was nothing i could possibly do about the situation. eventually the day came to a close, jc and i trekked another hour home, had dinner, and then after some giggly girl talk (interspersed with mourning for wolf), fell asleep.

sunday i made my way out of her village, through kaffrine, and then on to mbirkelane where i met up with fatou and a bunch of other women from the village. i immediatly asked fatou about wolfgang and she started giggling and told me that talla was stupid and totally wrong. apparently, shortly after the phone call, wolfgang showed up and romped around for some time. what a relief. i spent the rest of the day buying lot of vegetables, sugar, and tea in preparation of ethan, gabe, omar, and jc's coming to my illage to help me out with my first big village-wide meeting.

when i finally got home, wolfgang came zooming up to me and happily greeted me. home sweet home.

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