Yup, I'm actually doing it. I'm taking the plunge. Starting August 12th I will be in Senegal working as a Small Enterprise Development Volunteer with the Peace Corps.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Ahmed and his friend Jean-Jacques on Cheikh's moto.
Madame Ly's Jewelry
Senegal miracles are all around me right now. I had a second (and last!) African birthday, the power is on (still!), and Tamar made it home! Things are looking good. My earlier post describes my fabulous birthday and although my mom commented that I look terrified in all of my horseback riding pictures I promise that I really did have a great time! The power, which has been absolutely horrendous since I returned from America, seems to be back on track. I'm afraid to even type this, but we've had power since Tamar and I got back to my house yesterday afternoon. Still no water, but beggars can't be choosers and my family is finally paying neighborhood girls to pull water for them so we "have" water. Tamar and I were also worried that she would have a very difficult journey home today because of the big Mouride (a Muslim brotherhood in Senegal) pilgrimage to Touba, a city about 100k east of Thies on the route national. Fortunately, it was a fairly painless trip for Tamar.
With a belly full of a delicious hard boiled egg sandwich Tamar and I grabbed at the garage I made the trek all the way across town to the hotel where Madame Ly sells her jewelry on a daily basis. I really need to take pictures of this hotel for your viewing enjoyment. It's a very interesting place with a cliental that ranges from your local prostitutes to the Malian, girls, international hand ball team. And it's bright orange. Khady, Mme. Ly's daughter, and I had made plans to take pictures of all the jewelry for their brochure today, but it was Madame Ly, not Khady who was running the booth. No problem I took a bunch of pictures (which are all posted in the "Softball Season" album along with a few more of Ahmed) while people stared at the white girl holding all Madame Ly's jewelry like it's her own. I will be very interested to see where this pamphlet idea goes and how long it will take to be realized. Do check out the pictures because I took some on a basket and some on cloth and I would love aesthetic input!
Once the picture taking was done Madame Ly and I again discussed the artisan association. She actually did call every artisan last week to see what they're looking for from an association and I was shocked at how realistic everyone is being currently. Most artisans want help organizing themselves so they can work together and help sell each other's goods throughout the country. Another Senegal miracle. Madame Ly is really taking this idea to heart and once she sells out of her stock of baskets and bags that she currently buys from big producers in Thies she's going to purchase baskets from the artisans in Tivuouane and bags from the ladies in Kebemer, two artisan groups that came to the Expo. She's really excited because she will then have a differentiated product which she believes is of higher quality. Sometimes I can't believe what I'm hearing and feel like I'm barely necessary, but Madame Ly is so nice and always praises PCVs for their roles in organizing. We had a good laugh over the idea of volunteers doing the selling and artisans doing the organizing. It would be a disaster. It's better to work together.
After spending all morning with Madame Ly, I made my escape before she could rope me into eating lunch with her and headed home for babysitting duty. Jeenaba was the only girl at home and my mom was asleep since she was up until 6:45am watching water s.l.o.w.l.y drip into our buckets so I was immediately handed Abdou and we played robots with Ahmed.
PCV Alyssa Titche Corps de la Paix B.P. 957 Thiès, Senegal West Africa
* Make sure it's "Par Avion" by Air and that there's a sticker * Please put insurance on packages and even letters because customs officers will rip open both looking for goods and cash * If you are amazing and sending me a package write "Religious Materials" or "Personal Products" on the outside to further deter customs officials, also it is best to buy a flat rate box to reduce the custom fees I have to pay on my end! * Number your letters so I know if I'm missing one as mail will probably take 2-3 weeks to get from you to me
I also have Skype so make me one of your contacts. My Skype name is: alyssatitche
Cell Phone! Call me on Skype! 221-77-330-48-40
Wish List: Goodies, Treats... and Necessities
100 Calorie Packs
Jiff Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter
Mixed CDs (Leigh and Alex sent one and it was AMAZING)