Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints Day

Play-Doh mania has swept the Gaye household here in Thies Senegal. I'm pretty sure I caught every member of my family playing with it today. It's really interesting to see what people make. All of the girls were making food items and Ahmed was making snakes. I showed off my awesome bowl making skills and impressed everyone. Since today is All Saints Day, we all had a lot of time for Play-Doh. I can also tell you all about All Saints Day in Wolof.

I didn't make it out of the house this morning because there was no point since nothing was open. My office, schools, the post office, and even my host dad had the day off. I tried to work on some stuff for artisan expo and hung out around the house. Ahmed quickly discovered that I wasn't out for the morning so my attempt at peace and quiet didn't go so well.

After lunch I headed out to see the women's group Emily and I are working with. Mondays are group meetings days where all the women meet to collect dues and talk about group business, which means it's Alyssa day since Emily is all about the gardening. I was really impressed to see the savings plan put into practice. The women talked and argued for a long time, but finally decided that my idea to save 20% of their current savings to use after the upcoming holiday was a good idea. This is a major accomplishment. Tabaski is a huge holiday and people really go all out with new clothes, good food, and general upgrades around the house so to hear that the women were all committed to save a little bit of money from what could be a holiday slush fund was great. I did have to hear about, in detail, ever woman's outfit before they came to the conclusion, but it was totally worth it.

The only problem with these meetings is my role. Today marked my third meeting with these women and I still don't really have any clue what it is they want to do with their money. Unfortunately, I think this is what they want me to figure out for them. The president always asks for my ideas to start the discussion while I want to listen first and then offer guidance. I don't know if the women really just want to use the group as a savings institution so they can save money and keep it out of their households or if they do want to start some income generating activity. It seems like they want to start a business, but they definitely don't know what that business is. I do enjoy meeting with them and listening to all the gossip so hopefully I can make some impact and we can continue to do good work. A couple of the women seem very motivated and the treasurer is incredibly smart and on top of things so they are off to a good start.

The crisis of the day involved the internet, which wasn't working. I know, I know I'm in Africa and a Peace Corps Volunteer so I'm lucky to have it at all, but once you do it's so hard to go without. Fortunately, Ziabata wanted to use my computer so I told him that if he fixed it he could use. Ziabata talking to customer service is far more successful that me talking to customer service on the phone. A mere hour and a half later the internet was back and I delivered on my promise to help him look at the US Green Card Lotto. I'm pretty sure that I got the better end of the deal since the Lotto has impossible odds and I'm currently using the internet.

This evening Khady, Ahmed, and I went to the tailor to get measured for our Tabaski outfits. Mine is a nice, dark purple color. According to Khady I only look nice in pink and purple so that's what she bought me. I'm getting a dress this time in the hopes that I will actually be able to sit down in the outfit. Although I wasn't allowed to have any say in the design or color of embroidery, Khady assures me it will be beautiful.


  1. Alyssa,
    Play Doh is an amazing toy, did your Dad play as well? It is more fun than working even for your Dad.

  2. I had no idea a green card lotto existed. What do you know about it? What is Ziabatta's plan should he win a green card?
    My favorite Play Doh eating a fish!

  3. Alyssa, If you had lots of shopping over there, you could tell your gals to save for a shopping trip! Of course you know who wrote this. Love Ma

  4. It's good to know Play Doh is an international delight...
    Here's an idea...give the group of women a blob of Play Doh at the next meeting. While they are playing, talking and creating they might
    come up with some interesting ideas for a business..
    Or you could just ask your mom and I....
    We come up with great ideas all the time!