Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Baby Khady

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Awa’s baby had her baby naming ceremony this morning. Obviously no one told me that the naming was happening this morning, but I guessed when I saw a bunch of old men walking into our house. I sat with most of the women in my family in the entryway to the house watching the ceremony unfold in the living room. Khady is the baby’s godmother and namesake and held the baby sitting in the middle of a circle formed by all of the men. The men took turns whispering prayers and the baby’s name, Khady, into her ear before blessing her and finishing the ceremony. It was pretty cool to watch especially since the actual baptism will take place on Saturday after I leave Thiès. After the ceremony I held Awa for the first time. She’s not a very cute baby which is unfortunate and seems to be in a really bad mood the vast majority of the time. Definitely a departure from the happy-go-lucky Abdou.

From my house I went to the center to pick up Nancy for the day and to talk to Awa about my rent situation. I’m finally at peace with the situation and really do believe it was a misunderstanding, or at least a situation where it is highly plausible that there was a misunderstanding. Awa obviously had an Ah-ha moment when I gave her the past two years of rent receipts that I have. Apparently, most people in Senegal pay their rent on the first of the month for the previous month. Therefore, when I paid July’s rent, which was half the normal amount since I’m leaving, she thought that I had only paid half for June and was going to run out on July. While this is still fairly annoying because it’s still all coming down to money in my last week of service when I’m supposed to be reveling in my accomplishment and spending time with the people who made it so memorable, it does make sense in a nonsensical Senegalese way. The person who installed me two years ago was supposed to explain this procedure and didn’t, but I know that most of my friends pay their rent American style on the first of the month for that month. I understand that my host mom is fairly money grubbing and a penny pincher. I see this behavior inside my household and with her own children so I’m attempting to remain more calm than I was. I’m satisfied that the situation has been resolved, my mom’s actual intentions and whether or not she’s happy are no longer my concerns, and that it looks like a first year PCV is going to move into my house.

Nancy and I were supposed to go see Dioss in the morning, but when I called to confirm our little date he was obviously somewhere else so Nancy and I chatted at the center until meeting up with Kerry for lunch. After lunch Dioss was back at home so we went to visit. It’s going to be really hard to say goodbye to Dioss and I started choking up almost immediately before I forbid him from talking about anything to do with our projects together or me leaving.

I think he and Nancy could have a great partnership. The large shipment of his association’s catalogues are supposed to arrive in early fall and he wants Nancy to help him set up a little party and publicity event. He also showed us the documentary that Pauline and friends, the French students who were here last year, created. It’s actually pretty good and I found it wildly entertaining since I know almost everyone in it. Nancy was already several steps ahead of Dioss and suggesting editing the video down further so that it’s facebook and youtube accessible as well as putting the full length video on his website. Dioss is so close to getting everything right he just needs someone to connect the dots and I think Nancy will really be able to help him do that. Nancy not only has her amazing experience in Kenya as a PCV, where she also worked with artisans, to draw on but she’s worked for giant retail corporations in the States like Nike, Reebok, and Ralph Lauren. I’m really excited that someone as experienced and full of ideas as Nancy is will be taking over my projects. All of my friends are demisting PCVs who are in our age range and who are outwardly excited, enthusiastic, and wide-eyed at the accomplishments of their anciens, PCVs before them. I’m not really getting that experience since Nancy already understands Peace Corps and the lay of the land, but I hope that means she’ll be able to jump into her projects right away. Madame Ly and Dioss and the artisan reseau at large are poised to make real progress in the next two years and I’m excited because I think Nancy will really be able to help them with that.

Nancy and I spent a couple of hours with Dioss. I’m always so relaxed after leaving Dioss’ atelier. It really is a nice place and has been an oasis throughout my service. Looking through his art, new and old, is always fun and I picked out a few more things to take home and give as gifts. If you want anything you have until Thursday morning to email me! That’s when I have to say goodbye to Dioss. Ugh.
I spent the rest of the afternoon with my family. They were in fine form as usual. I owe a very delayed shout out to Matt for sending me one last package full of Polaroid film. My entire family, but especially Ahmed are OBSESSED with the Polaroid camera. Everyone clamors to have their picture taken when it comes out. There was general outrage when Ahmed took a picture of our sleeping dog, Mischa, and when he accidentally took a picture of the floor. But, in all honesty, the rest of my family isn’t too much better at taking pictures and Ahmed loves it so much. I gave him a Thomas the Tank Engine Pez dispenser at the same time (cleaning out my room) so he was pretty much in heaven. I have a couple of really cute pictures which I will post as soon as I can.

The topic of my impending departure is pervasive at home and it’s really sad. Ahmed isn’t talking about it, but he definitely knows if he doesn’t quite understand. It’s going to be really, really, really sad and I wish I could provide some lasting help to Jeenaba and Abdou, but that’s very difficult to do. In the meantime, I’m trying to snap as many pictures as possible, watch as many terrible soap operas as the power outages permit, and soak it all in.


  1. Alyssa,

    The ground work that you have laid with the artisans will give Nancy a great base to expand their organization. Enjoy your final days.


  2. You have created a coherent vision from some really disparate bits and pieces. You should be so proud of what you are handing off to Nancy. I've always been told that a job is not well done unless an excellent person replaces you. Nancy sounds perfect and you got a new tenant for your family to boot!