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.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Art, Artisans, Apocalypse
Yesterday I spent a couple of hours making Valentine's with Ahmed. I had planned to do it anyway since my mom had sent me a ton of supplies, but when Jeenaba knocked on my door and presented me with a crying five-year-old and then walked away, I didn't really have a choice. Ahmed was all about the Valentine's cards and quickly took command of any and all stickers that he could find in the crafts packets. The majority of the work fell to me because Ahmed is still terrified of making mistakes even with me. He wouldn't cut out construction paper hearts even after I had drawn an outline, but he was very impressed when I cut out a perfect heart after folding the paper in half (yes, that is the extent of my artistic abilities). I was instructed to cut a heart out for each person in our family and then Ahmed plastered stickers all over them, used an entire bottle of glue, most of which is on my porch, to attach doilies, and scribbled "names" in crayon. When Khady came to see what we were doing Ahmed shrieked and tried to hide all of the cards so they would be a surprise today, Valentine's Day.
Today when Ahmed got home from school the excitement was palatable. This was probably mostly my fault since I told him that I had candy to go with the cards. My mom put a hold on the cards until everyone got home for the day so I played "run," and hide and go seek with Ahmed. "Run," is a very involved game about running where Ahmed runs from one end of the courtyard to the other. The integral role that I play is that of counter. I count to three, five, or ten, depending on Ahmed's wishes, and then he runs. "Run," is the one place that I've actually been working on my goal of teaching Ahmed English and he can now count to ten in English, which is pretty cool.
Once everyone arrived back at home tonight the Valentine's were distributed and they are were a bid success. Everyone loved them and the candy that went all with them. Valentine's day is actually a big deal here in Senegal; all of the restaurants in town have special deals and delightfully tacky decorations on display. Of course I was given grief over not being in America with Valentine today, but no one else did anything either.
After missing Madame Ly at her jewelry stand on Saturday, my main goal of today was to check in with her and make sure that she had called all of the other artisans to confirm that they will be attending the training after WAIST. When I arrived Madame Ly was just setting everything out and she handed me a big stack of necklaces to arrange (which she later re-arranged), and then metaphorically slapped me with them. Madame Ly is not coming to the training next week. She's the president. And with that my day took a terrible turn for the worst and I was thrown into crisis mode over what to do. Apparently her aunt is dying and they are having what I'm going to call "a funeral when one's still alive" ceremony the two days of the training. She can still come to WAIST to sell things (Lynn, we've already arranged for a group of artisans to sell at WAIST!), but right after that she has to head to her aunt's village. I tried to see if I could call in another artisan to sell at WAIST so Madame Ly could go to her aunt's village and then make it back to Thies for the training. No such luck.
I panicked and sent texts to all of my friends and called Talla before a wise third-year PCV tried to put a positive spin on the situation. Khady, Mme. Ly's daughter, can be her proxy and we can use it as a teaching experience and an example of the VP's responsibilities. I really wanted to change the date of the training, but with availability at the center at a premium and almost all of the other artisans confirmed, we are sticking with the original date.
Artisan pandemonium continued to reign as I fielded a call from one of my friends who was at her breaking point because her artisans absolutely refuse to create any type of production timeline. Madame Ly also called two women from Tamar's women group, but the group president has no idea who these women are. But, we may have more artisans joining the group and I think almost everyone is confirmed. Or at least people told Madame Ly they were coming while I sat next to Madame Ly making sure she actually called everyone. We will see what happens!
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)