One Woman's Journey in the Peace Corps by Jodie Skillicom

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One Woman's Journey in the Peace Corps by Jodie Skillicom

One Woman's Journey in the Peace Corps by Jodie Skillicom

One Woman's Journey in the Peace Corps

November 26, 2000
hey everyone,

hope everyone had a happy thanksgiving.

so i think i left off in my last email from the town of podor. after emailing, i went and met my volunteer, ali, whose village we were going to visit next. she had just had a meeting with one of the head doctors in our region. the meeting was about international aids day which is dec. 1. they were all trying to plan something since nothing was being done for it anywhere else in senegal. So the meeting turned out wonderfully. the doctor was super psyched about it. he somehow got national funding and has invited all the doctors, nurses, villages in the whole north region to come. its become a huge event.

after this, we were dropped off at ali's village. i met her family = super nice and friendly and kept reminiscing about the days when ali came to the village and could speak no pular as well. so here is how the day went. i laid on this long bench/bed thing for most of the day. i slept. i would awake occassionally and switch sides. i would sometimes get really motivated and read. i am reading 'a roadside attraction' which i recommend = kind of a critique, satire on catholicism. oh, can i say that the regional house has the best library ever. i am in heaven. we ate lunch from the common bowl with the grandmother. eat, eat, she kept throwing food my way. drank our three rounds of tea. around 5, ali took me on a tour of her village. very nice, green, fields, river, beautiful. i got my greetings down - na bad da, temoray, adaseli, jam tam which translates, = how are you, how is the tiredness going, how is your health, peace. pretty much its easy cause you don't have to answer questions, instead, if you don't know a response you can just ask another question. just keep the barrage of words, and greetings going. we chilled somemoree. then, around 9 it was dinnertime under the stars. couldn't see what i was eating, but from the taste, i could tell it was millet/couscous with green leaf sauce. the hard thing was i couldn't tell where the sauce was in the dark. i would think i had scooped up some, but then when it reached my mouth i could tell i failed miserably and the taste of sawdust from the millet, couscous was quite evident. after dinner, i took a wonderfully refreshing bucket bath outside under the stars. then, ali and i fell asleep outside. we hung out in her village until around 4, then, it was time to move on to my village.

we went out to the road and waited for a public transportation car to show up. forty minutes later one showed up that had some room to spare. the car broke down about an hour later, so we switched cars. in the next car, we got to talking with this amazing guy. he is from mauritania. he was doing political work against some of the human rights abuses going on there. he got exiled and came as a refuge to the states. amnesty took up his case and now he works in chicago with at risk kids. he is in senegal now visiting for ten days. he is not allowed back into mauritania so his family is visiting him in senegal. around dusk, we finally arrived in my village. i was very happy to get a glimpse of it before dark.

i live in a large compound surrounded by a brick wall. my hut is pretty big. there are two good sized rooms. which is perfect, the one smaller one can be my yoga room. i have my own toilet which is an added bonus. the woman i live with = her house is across the courtyard area from mine. she is about 60. she lives alone with her granddaughter who i think is about 10. her husband lives in dakar with a city wife i am assuming.

the village chief came over and greeted me and fanned me to keep the mosquitos away. he is a very gentle and friendly man. good energy vibes. i ate a lovely meal of couscous and milk, at least no animal was killed in my honor. a good thing.

the next morning, i woke up and went to the well with my sister and pumped my water. its harder work than i thought. i should be in good shape by the time i get back. ate some breakfast, french bread and tea. ali left. so it was just me and the woman, nimsatta and our communication deficiency. but a lot of smiling and hand waving goes a long way. around five, she gave me a tour of my village. i met a lot of people. everyone is super friendly and nice. then, i attended a village meeting. the school had gotten new books so the whole village showed up to see them. i am excited to get to work with the school. the teacher there speaks french and some english so it will be a good starting place for when the pular thing just is going. couscous and milk again for dinner.

the next day, same kind of thing. shower, eat, hang out, lunch, tour of the village again to talk with everyone. another volunteer came and showed me around a nearby town. there is a high school. i talked with the principal. he is super motivated. he wants me to come in and do presentations, classes on aids, std's, and drugs. there is also an english club that i can help out with. more couscous.

the next morning, i got up packed and went to the road to wait for a car. after an hour, i was on my way. i made it back to regional house in time for thanksgiving dinner.

thanksgiving was wonderful = veggie chilli, veggie stuffing, vegetables, pumpkin pie, yum.

i went to bed, but could not sleep so around 12:30 i got up and went and talked for awhile with a friend. another friend also woke up. another friend came in cause she had just had a bad case of diarrhea. then, the spider arrived. oh what a deal. this spider was huge a half spider and half centipede, crazy looking creature. there were four volunteers dancing around the room trying to avoid the spider. once we got up the nerve we were determined to catch the spider. moving furniture. go binta. i was the one who captured it under a cup and got it outside. this coming from me who in the states had to call my mom to catch a daddy long leg for me. oh, and may i also mention that the lone guy in the room was up on a couch during the entire spider hunt.
well, this has been an entirely too long email.
hope all is well, binta.

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