January 29, 2005: Headlines: COS - Senegal: Service: Baxter Bulletin: Senegal Peace Corps Volunteer Eric Mattson told his parents that Jelaba Dallaba had suffered a tragedy during an intense storm when a Baolba tree crashed through the building housing the millet machine

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Senegal: Peace Corps Senegal : The Peace Corps in Senegal: January 29, 2005: Headlines: COS - Senegal: Service: Baxter Bulletin: Senegal Peace Corps Volunteer Eric Mattson told his parents that Jelaba Dallaba had suffered a tragedy during an intense storm when a Baolba tree crashed through the building housing the millet machine

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Senegal Peace Corps Volunteer Eric Mattson told his parents that Jelaba Dallaba had suffered a tragedy during an intense storm when a Baolba tree crashed through the building housing the millet machine

Senegal Peace Corps Volunteer Eric Mattson  told his parents that Jelaba Dallaba had suffered a tragedy during an intense storm when a Baolba tree crashed through the building housing the millet machine

Senegal Peace Corps Volunteer Eric Mattson told his parents that Jelaba Dallaba had suffered a tragedy during an intense storm when a Baolba tree crashed through the building housing the millet machine

Congregation helps village in Senegal

LINDA MASTERS
Bulletin Staff Writer

Caption: Jelaba Dallaba villagers (above) stand in front of the new building erected to house a millet-grinding machine. Shown are (from left) unnamed village child; Xadi Gaye, chief's wife and president of the co-op; unnamed secretary of the co-op holding her child; unnamed manager of the millet-grinding facility; and Chief Ibraham Gaye. A fallen Baolba tree (top of page) which destroyed a millet-grinding machine and building in Jelaba Dallaba, Senegal.

BULL SHOALS The miles between Christ by the Lake Lutheran Church and Jelaba Dallaba, Senegal, may number in the thousands, but distance didn't prevent this Lutheran congregation from helping the mainly Muslim community when they needed food.

About 14 months ago when the congregation found out the west African village had no way to process their main food supply, millet, they sprang into action. One fund-raiser and several donations later, the congregation sent a little more than $900 for the purchase of a new millet-grinding machine.

The congregation learned of the village's plight through Eric Mattson, a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Senegal. Mattson is the son of Christ by the Lake Lutheran Pastor David Mattson and his wife, Anna. He told his parents the village suffered a tragedy during an intense storm when a Baolba tree crashed through the building housing the millet machine. Both the building and machine were destroyed.

The machine is used to grind the millet grain into a flour-type substance used for food. "Ground millet is most like farina or cream of wheat," said Pastor Mattson.

Since the main diet of the Senegalese village of 350-400 people is millet and fish, without the ability to process millet, the prospect of food for the village was greatly diminished. To grind millet by hand, a huge motar and 6-foot pestle are used, but the process is slow and labor intensive.

Since receiving the donation, the village has purchased a new gasoline-powered millet machine and built a new building. During Christmas vacation, the Mattsons visited their son and saw firsthand how the donation was put to use. They flew to Dakar, Senegal, then traveled to Passy, Senegal, and rode the last 7 kilometers on a donkey cart to Jelaba Dallaba.

Now, the village not only has a way to process food for themselves, the women of Jelaba Dallaba have formed a co-op to rent out the machine to other villages.

"They elected a president, secretary and treasurer and have a little business going," said Anna Mattson.

During their visit, a trip to the community well tells the tale of how they were honored.

"It's the women's job to carry water from the well," said Mrs. Mattson. "Our son actually got in trouble for going to the well to get his own water rather than letting his village 'sister' do it. Eric finally compromised with villagers by allowing his 'sister' to retrieve water for his personal use, and he carries his own water for the garden he has planted behind his hut."

When the Mattsons went to the well with their son to help carry water, the village chief made an appearance.

"The chief, Ibraham Gaye, was so grateful, he came to the well and carried our water. The people of the village told us they had never seen him at the well before. It was a great honor," said Pastor Mattson.

The Mattsons ate several meals at the village during their stay and were served chicken and millet and lamb and millet. Since their visit was a great occasion for the village, meat was served rather than fish. The Mattsons explained villagers eat with their hands always their right hand.

"Your left hand is used for bodily functions. We were fortunate, they gave us eating utensils," said Pastor Mattson.

Another highlight of their trip was seeing the Senegalese people prepare for the festival of Tobasky. Pastor Mattson explained Tobasky is the celebration of the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, so there were sheep everywhere. Each family must own or purchase a sheep to be used as a sacrifice. The festival also is a time when the people clean everything and purchase new clothes, so markets were colorful and busy.

Eric Mattson is one of 152 Peace Corps workers in Senegal and ends his two-year stay in May. His main objective is to teach villagers how to make better use of the land. The village grows and sells peanuts, but since peanuts sap nutrients from the soil, they can't successfully be grown year after year. He has taught villagers how to plant and nurture cashew trees, which will produce a viable crop to sell without damaging the soil.





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Story Source: Baxter Bulletin

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Senegal; Service

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