Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Camp: Future Day

September 28, 2010

Jackie planned today's day: Future Day and it was a big hit. We started off the morning with yoga as usual and headed straight into watching a movie called "Elle Travail, Elle Vit, " or in English, "She Works, She Lives." It was created by PCVs in Senegal and features local women who have professional careers. It's a really cute and interesting movie and if you're interested you can download it on We had a quick discussion about the movie and then it was time for a career panel.

The career panel consisted of a French professor at the University of Bombey, a woman who works at the local Poste de Sante (Med Center), a secretary at a local middle school, and Peace Corps very own Awa. Awa is the Peace Corps culture coordinator and she's amazing. Everyone loves her. She's the Senegalese Oprah. The career panel I think was a hit, but it was a little hard to tell because the woman who worked at the Poste de Sante took control and had the girls ask all of the questions before the women started to answer any of them. All of the Americans quickly lost interest with this format, but I think that the girls still enjoyed it and they asked a lot of questions which was good.

After lunch Awa took the stage and was incredible. It takes a very special individual to capture the attention of 33 early teenage Senegalese girls as well as 10 American Peace Corps volunteers. This sounds corny, but her stories of personal triumph and her amazing attitude and outlook had me all girl powered up. She talked to the girls about continuing their education, delaying marriage, family planning, and just being a good person. Here, as in all places, there are a lot of social pressures on girls and I think to see someone as inspirational and in-your-face as Awa was just awesome for the girls. The asked tons of questions and watching the girls was like watching a tennis match as they watched Awa move back and forth across the room. She was definitely the hit of the camp and I think her message really resonated with the girls. They really couldn't stop talking about Awa.

All of these warm fuzzy feelings happened after I had a huge showdown with the kitchen staff. On Monday they had made 15k of rice when I explicitly told them to make 8. They totally disregard almost everything I say so I was irate when we had half of the rice left that they cooked. The head kitchen guy then had the audacity to tell me that we were going to run out of food by the end of the week and that it was my fault. He wanted us to put in another huge sum of money to cover what he called "necessities." We created the food budget, menu, and my beautiful Excel spreadsheet for a reason - not to have any of these problems. Not surprisingly, he totally shuts me down when I point out that if we just bring down the numbers to the levels that I had on the sheet instead of the ridiculous numbers he claims to be necessary that we would still make it through the week with plenty of food. There is enough food for the girls and for us to feed the rest of the staff milling about the University, as we have been doing, so his "demands" are really attempts to try and see what he can get out of me, which is nothing. We argue back and forth and I tell him that my PC boss is coming and he can talk to her to make sure there really isn't any money. After taking a peek at Awa while she was presenting he decided that he didn't really need to talk to her after all and that he could make it work! Go Awa!

I actually left camp and the University with Awa to return to Thies to print pictures to give the girls when they leave on Friday so I missed the afternoon games, art project, and other sessions, but they are going to be really excited about the pictures. Unfortunately when I returned to Bombey the power still wasn't on, it had cut early in the morning, so we eat dinner by candle light, played a few games, and sent the girls to bed early which was good because the PCVs had quite an ordeal of our own.

Tamar and I hear Jackie and Katherine screaming as we brush our teeth. We think that they've seen one of the million of mice running around, but no, there's a bat in their room. They've both taken refuge under their mosquito nets and are screaming for help. Brian, one of the male PCVs, comes running to the rescue. He's shirtless, in boxers, and his weapon of choice is a towel. The situation quickly turns hilarious as Senegalese counterparts and maids chide us for being ridiculous and Brian knocks over and breaks a glass bowl as he throws his towel at the bat. Needless to say, in the PCV v. Bat score card it's PCV:0, Bat:1 because Jackie and Katherine eventually went to sleep with the bat still flying around the room!

1 comment:

  1. Well it's impossible to have a pithy response to this post. The work the Peace Corps is doing this week is incredibly important. It's impossible to predict which girl will use this experience to improve her life or that of her children but I know that at least one of them will some day draw on this time to do something tough.