Every day, I pump from a nearby well to water a garden my training group planted down the road.
I sometimes have electricity, but I wish I didn’t.
When everything is foreign, it’s easy to forget what you know and just go with it because “that’s the way it is here.” Perhaps the only place that seems semi-normal is my language classroom, where I am learning Jola. I say “semi-normal” because the classroom is the porch outside my teacher’s house.
Finally, on a day all the volunteers met up for training, a pitter-patter sounded on the tin roof above. Within a few minutes, our presenter became inaudible so we dashed out of class and into the downpour to celebrate with a rain dance of our own!
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!
I am learning the language and culture throughout the next 10 weeks through classes and integration with my host family. I live in a Jola compound in Soma, which is a big town about 1/3 inland, south of the river. Although many live in squalor, my family seems to be well off. The compound has 10 two-room houses, many of which are beautifully furnished.