The neighbors called out and soon the little path outside my family’s compound was full of townspeople and buzzing with excitement as everyone searched for the moon. Through the pink clouds in the evening sky, a faint hairline of the moon shone through, a sign that the month of fasting could finally end.
For my first 10 weeks in The Gambia, I am in Pre-Service Training while I learn one of the local languages, technical job skills and how to integrate into the culture. My training “village” however, is not much of a village. I live in Soma, one of the country’s transit hubs and home to about 10,000 people. Most of my days are spent in the town’s Jola neighborhood.
Every day, I pump from a nearby well to water a garden my training group planted down the road.
Sweat leaked down my cheeks and off my nose although I stood in nothing but my underwear. It was eight days after arriving in country — only the fourth with this family — and my Gambian sisters were stripping me bare below the corrugate iron roof that absorbs the African heat.
My sisters say their goal is to make me so fat I am unrecognizable when I go back to America, so everyone will know how great Africa is. I’m doing my best to counter their evil conspiracy!