Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Survived 2 Weeks in Africa...What do I Get?: Hopefully Not Maleria

I have been told the first day at my host family is the hardest day of my service. Today I get to meet my 1st host family in Mboro, Senegal (about an hour north of Thies) and start living there with them for the rest of my training. We come back and forth to the training center for more training, language tests and debriefings.

I also will get my 1st Senegalese name. I am very excited about this as the closest word in Wolof to my last name is the word for toilet. So needless to say, I'm excited to see what tribe I'm also with. There is a culture of joking cousins, out of the 6+ tribes, each has 2-3 joking cousins that they are sarcastic with. You might give a vendor a hard time when bartering knowing they are your joking cousin. Also shows proficiency in the language.

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 I started writing this over a week ago before I was on my way to site in the short time I had left with internet access, a table to write at, and my computer (that I left at the training center) Much has changed since then.

My Senegalese name is Daba Mbodji (Prounounced Mbouch) and I live in a small town north of Thies, called Mboro. It's known for it's vegetables and fruit market and gardens. My family is small in terms of Senegalese size with only 10 people not including myself. I live with my grandmother, my mom, my 3 sisters and my brother and his wife along with their kids. Luckily my siblings are around my age and my tarondoo (namesake) sister is also unmarried with no children. So we have much in common.

My house has 5 small bedrooms, a living room (with a tv-most channels are in french or wolof) and a shared courtyard (where all the cooking and laundry is done as well as hanging out) with more extended family with house that is connected to ours. So all together there are 20-ish people around at any given time in or around the house. Needless to say I shouldn't ever be lonely.

I live a few blocks away from a school and a few more blocks from the other 3 volunteers that my site mates here that live with their own receptive families. But even living that short distance I have gotten "lost" a few times in the week I have been at site. I see this as an adventure to get to know my neighborhood and I can easily be  "found" by asking where my families' house is or calling a site mate to come find me. Or worse comes to worse I can call my brother and try in broken wolof or french to come find me or find where I am. Either way it's not hard to get lost or found in my town.

I will write more while I'm here in Thies for training in the next few days. My rechargeable battery charger isn't working so I have not been able pictures. So my goal of being here is to figure it out so I can show you more of my family and my new home for the next few months.


  1. Sounds like just the adventure you were hoping for!

  2. Boo on the battery charger not working. I can't wait to see pictures!

  3. exciting update. it can be so tricky to line things up appropriately to get just a small update out when overseas anywhere, let alone volunteering in Africa - so i am amazed that you were able to do so!
    do you need something sent to help with the rechargable battery situation? let me know if there is something i could send to help the situation!

  4. Thanks everyone. I was excited to have the battery charger company send me another one (I will be happy when I see it) and have purchased batteries here-not cheap-and have limited the amount of pictures I've taken.