Monday, January 25, 2010

Debits and Credits

Dioss finally found some time to work me and my accounting lesson in. Last week he was working with one of the French private schools on a movie, which sounds really interesting. Today he was free from the project and no one was at the gallery so we were able to create our first ledger! It pains me to be excited about accounting, but I made the ledger so simple that even I understand it...

Currently, we only have six columns: Date, Description of Item, Number of Items, Debit, Credit, and Personal/ Business Use. Volunteers in the past have started with very simple systems and then work their way toward more complex systems, a strategy I'm also adopting. You may be interested in the Personal/ Business Use column. As I've mentioned before, there's little if any separation between personal and business funds. Senegalese families who own a boutique will simply walk in and take an item; it wont be subtracted from inventory and they wont pay for it. Most people also don't use bank accounts so it's very difficult to keep track of personal versus business finances. This is the case for Dioss. I explained personal v. business with his beloved cigarettes. Dioss is very bright and has big plans for himself and after 2+ hours of examples and creating ledgers I think he really had a good grasp of the material. I think this will really help him, but the big test will be whether or not he continues his ledger while I'm away at training all of February and wont be there to check in on him!

Dioss also invited me/ begged me to come to a meeting with him at the Cultural Center in Thies. It's with the American Consul, supposedly, and is about the US/Senegalese governments helping artists and getting visas. I'm interested to see if 1. the Cultural Center actually exists because I've never heard of it 2. if the meeting actually happens and 3. if useful information is actually disseminated. Regardless, Dioss thinks he has a huge advantage because he's bringing me, a native English speaker. He claims he's going to call me in the morning to make sure I'm up and can make it. The meeting is at 11am.

On the home front today was a weird day. No one was here during the afternoon. My mom is very sick and didn't leave her room today so it was just me, Mami, Ahmed, and my crazy aunt person at lunch (crazy aunt person - this woman who now lives with us, who I think is my mom's sister, acts oddly all the time and everyone laughs at her. I really don't understand why she's here or who she is). This means we had a great lunch if not an especially healthful one. We had omelettes, which in Senegal means a deep fried egg, fries, and bread. It was delicious.

Most of the afternoon I alternated playing with Ahmed and working on some NGO research in my room. Ahmed is now fairly obsessed with trying to write since he sees me writing and reading all the time. The only letter he can write right now is "H". You would really think that "O" is the easiest letter, but for some reason "O" baffles him and he loves "H," so I drew "H"s for a long time this afternoon. Since no one was home, I did get a lot of work done since I didn't feel guilty about staying in my room after playing with Ahmed. It was nice.


  1. Alyssa,

    Accounting...the lifeblood of civilization, that's easy wait until you have to teach him tax and that honesty is the best policy. I.E. lower sales price increase expenses and pay less tax, very logical. Interesting issue why H is easy and O is difficult, I will let the psycologists, or your mother handle that one. H has only straight lines which may be easier but so does A.

  2. I can't believe my eyes. Alyssa is excited about accounting! Africa must be tough.

  3. Honestly I would think "I" to be the easiest character to form.
    But that could just be me.