"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." - Jawaharlal Nehru

Monday, March 19, 2012

Busy Busy is the Working Bee!

Salaamaleekum! Peace be upon you all.
Apologies for the time it takes to write these things.  There’s always much to be said, but when I sit down, I feel like a blog just can’t do this experience justice; but as I always say, I’ll try my best!
Updates:1. Geoff came and went.  Most visitors don’t stay more than 2-weeks – Geoff stayed for a month in West Africa.  Granted 2-weeks were spent travelling to Cape Verde, but there were 2-more awesome weeks spent in my village.  He’ll be the first to tell you that he fell in love with the slow, village life; it’s easy to do when your biggest worries are “I wonder if I’ll have diarrhea today”.  LOL!  Geoff cracked groundnuts, took bucket baths, explored the Gambian bush, and much much more.  OH YEAH, we had a wedding!  It was a playground wedding, filled with drummers and asobes (matching outfits with Geoff and my family).   It was an amazing learning experience to have a guest from America, for him and myself.  I hope it’s not the only time I’ll have a visitor.  I’ll post just a few pictures here:
Geoff running down the side of an ACTIVE VOLCANO!
On FOGO, one of the islands in Cape Verde off the coast of W. Africa

Wedding day matching tye-dye outfits! How Peace Corps lol

My Gambian family and our "asobe"s (matching outfits) for the wedding!

And you thought YOU get dirty on the dance floor!
Wolof women do it right.
"Malick Ceesay" dancing with my wife Jamma Ceesay!
The slow village life, cracking groundnuts - beautiful!

2. HEALTH SCHOOL is more than I could have ever imagined!  We are officially halfway complete, and the women are just getting warmed up.  This past month we focused on nutrition, filled with: weaning foods, cooking demonstrations, dramas, and fun activities.  This past month and next month are dedicated to RCH – Reproductive and Child Health.  March had 2-classes: the importance of RCH & female anatomy (see pictures below).  This next month (April), we are holding 2-more classes on RCH: pregnancy and menstruation & family planning.  In some villages, these would be considered “taboo” to teach, but the women have shown a great interest in these subjects, which make the lessons that much more wonderful.  Lastly, in two weeks, a few of my Peace Corps co-volunteers, as well as the women enrolled in the health school, will paint HEALTH MURALS on the hospital!  We got permission from the village leader to paint, so no need to hesitate.  I will post pictures later!

My host mom showing off her anatomy apron and model!

Teaching about exclusive breastfeeding!
It looks like I'm doing it haha!

weening foods cooking demonstration

"and here is the PENIS"
Anatomy lesson in a muslim country #score

      I got to watch my first Gambian tattoo be done by a woman in my village.  So allow me to explain!  The pictures below are somehow disturbing, but they’re for “cultural purposes” haha, or my sick infatuation with body alterations.  Anyhow, getting your gums (yes, in your mouth) tattooed is seen as a sign of beauty.  I don’t know when they chose that place, of all places, but it is done pretty regularly here.  The only other kind of “tattooing” that is done is called “fula scarring”.  FULA is a tribe here in the Gambia, but the scarring is done by all tribes.  I have done this type of tattooing (see picture below), and it is very common for Peace Corps Volunteers to get these done before they return to America.  Have a look!
she was a bleeder.

stayyyy still, squueeze my hand!
One of my family members doing a "touch-up" on her gum-tattoos

Well, that’s pretty much it.  I’ve been busy busy busy these past few months, with Geoff visiting, travelling, the health school and a few other side-projects.  The time is flying by too fast, which makes me want to stay longer; we’ll have to see if I’m allowed!  Oh, by the way, it’s officially the HOT SEASON.  This means I spend most of my afternoons sitting under a tree, usually doing one of the following: WRITING LETTERS HOME, learning wolof, reading, braiding hair/getting my hair braided, panting like a dog, sipping attaya and juice, and napping.  I would love love love some letters.  It seems people (including myself) have begun to slack off, but please remember that I really really look forward to handwritten love.  You don’t have to write about anything of importance, but write me darnit!  The address is somewhere on the side of this blog.

I miss you all, but I’ve made this place a second home.  I have a family here, friends, and meaningful work.  Peace Corps has been an amazing, life-changing experience for me, and I hope this blog has inspired some of you to go off and explore, have adventures of your own, even if into the woods of your backyard or into a local state park.  This earth was created for exploring and appreciating all the beauty it has to offer.  NOW GO!!

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