December 17, 2003 - Personal Web Site: ali in mali
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December 17, 2003 - Personal Web Site: ali in mali
ali in mali
ali in mali
It's now been 5 months since I've written.
August started out with me coming out of site and into Bamako. I have told everyone in my village that I will be moving to Segou to take the Peace Corps Volunteer Leader position. My host mom was not so happy, and truthfully, I will really miss her and the family. Things had changed at the house though. The 2 boys had left to go harvest in their villages and Gabriel's wife, child and sister had moved in to help out. Mary will also be moving to Segou or Bandiagara for school. Hopefully, she'll be in Segou.
So I left site in the begining of August. As I walked down the road, I looked back and G'boy was watching me with his tail down. It was very sad. I sat with Aly and Oumar most of the day. Spoke with Ezekias and Shadrock and talked about future volunteers in site. I know now that I won't be replaced, but I was pretty sure that I would be at this point and filled them in on the plan. Ezekias would've been homologue. And the volunteer would help start the newspaper business. It could have been interesting. Instead, I have just given them the Self-Help Fund application and wished them the best.
So getting to Bamako, we began the pre-TOT SED retreat. That is the meeting to plan the sessions of training. I will be in Bamako for most of their training and then my APCD (program director), had the bright idea that I should host a Field Based Training group in the capital itself, when I don't speak Bambara nor do I know the city so well. We'll manage. My friend Suzie is coming down to help with that and she speaks Fufulde, so we will make a great team!
We picked up the "stagieres" on the 14th. I was in charge of yelling "Get your bag from the pile and move to the front! We're taking a group out now!!!" I even got into a small tif in Bambara and every one was really impressed. We drove out to Tubani So and I got to do the "nyagen demonstration" where we showed the kids how to use the toilet here. mmmmm.... that was fun.
We had a lot of fun the first week. Then the group went on demyst. It was strange to see the full circle of events. I can't wait to go through this next year! They ask so many questions!!!!
SED training has started finally and we have been putting sessions together. Will, Joe and Vanessa were there the first week and this week it will be Dave and Nora. We have done a lot of preping and this week we will take them into the villages to work with a munincipality, an artisan, a bank group and a women's association. They will be in charge of their entire project and how it goes.
We took a break this weekend and the entire training group went up to Segou for the big Memorial Day, Luau. I had t-shirts made for the event and the crew up there made tons of food and we decorated the night before. It was a lot of fun. I have really missed my region mates this past month being in Bamako. I don't see any of them very often. We went to the pool all day sunday and then came back to the feast and festivities that night. Jungle Juice was prepared and I drank enough of it to give me a good night sleep. I think 60 people showed up.
So now I am back in Bamako. Tomorrow I will be going back to Tubani So. I'll be here for 2 more weeks and then I get to go move my stuff from Tominion to Segou. Hopefully I'll have a house by then.
the doves house
It's been a month now that I have been in Mali. I've only gone to 6 towns so far. This is very stationary for me!
I love it here. We spent the first week in small mud huts at the training center. "Downtown", the training center is called Tubani So, or the Doves House. We lived in the village Zumanabugu.... we don't know what that means.
the night of our arrival, we had a quick ñyagen lesson. that is how to use the toilet. it is a hole in the floor that we use water in "teapot type tools" called salidagas to wipe. it is quite an experience. the only truly disgusting thing in that are the flies, maggots and cockroaches that swarm out when you uncover the hole. i can't wait to get to site where i have my own!!!!!!
The first week we all amused ourselves with simple games, ping pong and taking bambara lessons. We can all get our basic greetings down. Here's an example:
i ne somago.... good morning
nse/nba i ne somago... i house wife(girl)/my mother(guy), good morning
i ka kene ?.... how are you?
tora te.... no problem
somago be di?... how's the fam
tara tu la.... doing great
hare be?.... is there peace?
hare duron... peace always
it's great. it has a wonderful rythm and you find yourself walking down the road and even if you are in a rush you must stop and say these greetings to the older people you meet as well as some of your peers. the greetings could go on and on, but that was a brief synopsis.
we moved out of zumanabugu after our "demys". demys was when we were sent out to someone's site to see what things were "really like". i went out with my friend doug to the sikasso region and met a volunteer named heather. she was really cool. lived in a village called kincheery (spelled phonetically) and raised chickens. she worked with a woman's association and encouraged their chicken raising, but she was having problems organizing them.
we met heather and candace (a volunteer who is getting married to a malian here) at Mpessoba, the market town for their villages. We all sat down, drank a pop, had some millet doughnuts and went to the market to get some fabrik and look awround. as candace and her "demysters" were leaving, heather yelled out "don't forget your chicken" grabbed the pecking creature by the legs and smoothly handed it to her as she reached down for hers. i don't think she'd seen a chicken up close before coming here.
we took a bus out to the closest stage house in koucialla. this is also spelled wrong, but most of you at least will be able to pronounce it. we met a bunch of other volunteers and went to the market. i had a skirt "panya" made out of the material i got and we went back. demys was alright, but koucialla was an armpit really. a truckstop town. but we had a great meal there of chicken, cucumbers, french fries and sauce at a stand on the roadside. it was great!
Being stationed now in Samaya, a village of unknown proportions is much bettter than the training site. I live with the Keita family (Keita a kein kosave!). Hightower is my roommate... i think we lucked out. she is a really cool health volunteer from texas. our family is great. i really enjoy hanging out with them. i have 8 siblings in the family. bokar, aseitu, via, sedou, batama, musa, youssef, and bebe... the baby. they are all really cool. i spend hours with them speaking in my garbled french/bambara. today i went out to the fields with bokar (bois), via, and youssef to weed the peanut fields. they didn't let me stay too long. i'm also trying to give english lessons to our neighbor who speaks a bit of english already. they are all really cool.
my baptised name is batama keita, after my little sister. she is really happy about that. i hear all these people always yelling my name as i pass by "i ne che, batama" "i be taa min?" where are you going. i'm pretty lucky on that. the family lives right next to the market and i like all the people that hang out.
there are some sadder aspects. the animals are situated in the back of our compound and the stable never mucked. the family sits right next to it and drink their tea on the ground. flies like nothing you have ever seen, swarm the compound at certain times.... 10 landing on any given body part at one time is not unusual. i have stopped swatting them unless they try to go in my mouth or nose or eyes. one brother has a bad case of malaria and a cousin that lives with us seems to be dying of malaria and severe malnutrition, among who knows what else. either could be the poster child for any africa save the children program. our compound has about 25 people. i think that one kid will probably die while we are there. it can be really hard.
okay, grimness is always apparent here, but the people are so nice. and love to talk to you. i am having a great time. i recieved my assignment. i will be working in Tominion, in the Segou region. this is bobo land, so i am now learning bomo, bambara and french. my town speaks all of them. bobo land is also where the christians and animists are. it's near dogon country and there are some crazy festivals. they also drink at least once a week... something not found in most of muslim country. they are a lot of fun i hear. they do eat dog, and that is a bit of an issue. i'm definately going to avoid strange meats. supposedly there is a great health center there, with 2 cuban volunteers so i can practice my spanish. i will also be living next door to a french teacher and a medicine man. i can't wait!
that's all for now. mali is beautiful. it rains at least every other day. just wait til dry season i keep saying.
much love to everyone!
december holidays 2002
christmas and the new year
To the disgruntlement of my christian town, I left to meet up with my region PCVs in San for Christmas. I think they were more feigning their protest, but it was a nice display of affection they gave me.
I waited most of the day to get a baschee, those dilapidated vans crammed with passengers, and finally one came through at around noon. We stopped by at the local prison and picked up a friend.... hahaha.... the warden at the prison, and then we went on to San.
San is 50k away from my site. I timed it (sometimes you have to create your own amusement). It took 15 min to get from my grated road to the biduron, 16 minutes to get from their to Somo, the next volunteer's site, Julie Westfall, and then 14 minutes from their to the customs post, which they have outside of every city. Here, we waited precisely 15 minutes while I watched the driver sip tea with the gendarme and slip a small sum of cfa into his hand. I was eating raw peanuts. A herd of garibous* were watching me, softly chanting allah blessings. The driver then got in and it too 12 minutes to arrive at our parking place.
(*garibous are the muslim children sent to beg on the streets. their families give them to a maribou who teaches them the koran and they are expected to live in humility, begging for food and money and living in poverty. they are, however, very mischievious and sometimes aggressive, so like the wildlife, they are something to be wary of)
It was Wed, not a market day, so I was able to jump quickly off and make my way to our San stage house. This place is nice. It reminds me of something you would see in a Morroccan travel brochure. Most of the crew had already gathered and we sat around cooking, eating like scavengers and happily bickering and picking on each other with much laughter and amazingly tolerance. At one point, when Adam Killian, who is a master meat cooker!!!!!!! finished with the bbq pork, Dan King, Keith and I were scraping the bottom of the bowl with our fingers and nails, shoving the last morsels in our mouths. Pork is such a delicacy around here. I couldn't help but drool. Dan actually said, "Alexis, you just drooled!". We seem to really have gotten to each other, all in a good way. I think I lucked out with the rest of Segou-kaw.
We also took some great pictures of the Segou boys. We have decided that we are going to make a calendar to sell to the rest of Mali PC. Each month will feature one of our boys in a delightful pose. It was a lot of fun thinking of their modeling poses!!!!
I went off to Segou after that to get some fabric for a dress being made and also to talk to mom and pops. When I got there, I had another bout of sickness and discovered that there was a medical box in my mailbox. The note attatched said "Alexis- you have amoebas and gardia. start taking this medication immediately." along with frightening descriptions of side effects and the effects of the sickness if I don't take the drugs. Nice to know the info travels so quickly here!
3 days later, after dealing with the farsigen, Mayli, Dan, Dave and I made our way to Mopti for the New Year. We picked up Rugi on the way in Bla, where he lives. It was great seeing him get on the random bus we had taken. 7-8 hour ride and we entered Mopti. It's nice there. Sevare is where the stage house is and we all settled in and said hi. i was still feeling a bit ill from the medication and didn't do too much. I did sign on to go to the Salif Keita concert for new years night. It was great. A small group of us went and we had a blast. One of the opening acts just lip sinked to her tape with out her back up singers nor her band, which made it a bit comic when the chorus sang to some funky beats. Then Salif came on and it was incredible. We were all invited up next to the stage and my friend Adam Klein, who will be the next rock star in Mali, got pulled up on stage. He has already written a bunch of songs in bambara that sound great.
New Years was a lot of fun. We jumped on a bus afterwards and headed home for some sleep.
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Story Source: Personal Web Site
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Hi every body in Mali. My name is Carlos and I was originally assigned to Mali for a volunteer service from 1991 to 1993, However I was transfer from Mali to Guatemala right after my very first month in Mali (a kind of long story). Guatemala was and is a very nice place for volunteer service, but now I feel like to come back to service and you know what; I canít imagine another place other than Mali as a country of service. I still remember the training site (tubani so) and a nearby village known as Katibugu as well as many of the Bambara phrase and expressions such as:
1. NíBA INI CE = HI
2. I KA KENE WA = HOW ARE YOU?
3. NíBETA BENCU = IíM READY FOR A SHOWER
4. Ní BETA LA COLILA, CAMBE SOGOMA FE = I WILL GO TO THE TRAINING SITE / SCHOOL, I WILL COME BACK TOMORROW IN THE MORNING.
5. NíBE DOLO ME BILI BILI BA !!!!! = I WANT A BIG BEER !!!!!
Things that I will never forget !!! Enjoy this wonderful experience.
RPCV Carlos Arias
Guatemala: 1991 - 1993