I spent most of the morning dreading the impending boredom of the formation with Diof. I knew that I had to go, but I also knew it wasn’t going to be fun. I did attempt to keep an open mind and tried to trick myself into believing Diof’s New Year’s Resolution was timeliness, but of course this was not the case. When I arrived on time at the office he wasn’t even there and then I had to watch him have lunch, talk on his phone, and finally wait for the other member of our group to arrive. An hour after we were supposed to leave, we finally jumped in the taxi and when we got out of the taxi… I entered the twilight zone.
Standing outside the house and staring up at the massive wall enclosing the compound I did think to myself that maybe just maybe this formation would be different. When we entered the compound, owned by a high ranking Thies government official, I was blown away by what I saw. It appeared as though I had flown across the world and landed in Florida… in 1982. The man of the house greeted us in linen pants and a Hawaiian shirt, the house was huge and two stories and actually had a fresh coat of paint, the interior obviously had overstuffed black leather couches (shout out to Matt), and there were potted flowers. I felt totally out of place and as though I was in an alternate universe.
The formation itself was also not as mind numbing as I was expecting. My Wolof has definitely improved since all of my trips to the villages with Diof when I first installed, but more importantly there is a huge difference between these women in Thies and the women in the villages. These women knew what was up. Diof could barely speak before one of them was snapping their fingers for his attention to clarify a point or ask a question or to provide an example. I was impressed with how attentive they were and how much they already knew about how to run a groupment and the executive board’s roles. My role at the formation was obviously token white chick, but it wasn’t so bad and I was fairly mesmerized by my surroundings so the time went slightly faster than a slow crawl.
I should mention one event of note from my morning. I was cleaning my room when Khady walks up with Ahmed. Khady tells me that Ahmed wants to play with me and that she’s going to visit a friend… wait a minute here did I move to Africa to become a glorified babysitter after I’ve avoided babysitting my entire life? Apparently that is part of my job description now. As I’m cleaning Ahmed is wandering around my room peering into corners looking for presents. He assumes everything in my room is a potential present for him shipped from the States. What he calls some pink and white packages catch his eye and he pleads with me to play with them. I say they aren’t toys and that they aren’t for him, they are just for me. He lets it go for a little while, but he just can’t get those little pink and white packages out of his head. He pleads and starts to cry. I immediately tell him crying doesn’t work on me and I’ll make him sit outside on my porch. Ahmed sucks it up and pines for his treasure from across the room. How do I explain to a 4 year old African child that the pink and white packages are tampons?
Oh a day in my life…
Messy, but Warm
8 months ago