Sunday, May 31, 2009
Let's baroke! (let's talk!)
Me and baby Christine in my most recent knitting creation.
Communication and community are the centerpieces of my life here in Mali. Everyday I work to navigate my way through Malian culture and chores using Bambara while striving to be connected to the village in which I live by being apart of ceremonies and getting to know my neighbors by compound hopping and peeking in on gardens. The heat and tight-knit nature of the people here mean that a lot of time is spent outside. Relaxing under a shaded hangar, drinking tea, applying fertilizer to the fields in preparation for farming season, pounding millet for the day's meals, washing clothes - everything is done together and it's this sense of community that I revel in and try to transfer to my own relationships with other American Peace Corps volunteers and my sweet family and friends back home.
After almost a year here, it's just in the past few weeks/month that I'm starting to feel not only a part of the community but that my presence at village events and ceremonies isn't a novelty - it's expected. This past week brought the deaths of two older men in village and funerals here, like in the states, mean a coming together of loved ones of the deceased. The difference here is that every single person in the village is considered a close family friend and therefore comes to the funeral to pay their respects to the grieving family as soon as they find out. The night of the death, all the women bring their mats to the family's compound and set up to have a sleepover of sorts as well as to dance and sing in honor of the dead. Talk about a true celebration of life. Annie and I headed over to the compound this past week around 10 p.m. and set up our mat with Aminata, Annie's sister-in-law and Marte, our neighbor. With their babies nestled us and fast asleep we settled down for the night as other women set up the generator, microphone and lights for an evening of celebration. While the attitude of the women was somber and tear-filled during the day, the night was filled with laughter and women lining up to dance. When I woke up at 5 a.m. Annie was sitting up next to me, knitting away and unable to sleep with the women's singing and loud dancing. Baby Christine's arm was sticking straight out into my face and her little leg kicked in my direction as I rolled over to see the sun rise on our sleepover.
Here you can see the little booties
As farming season gets ready to kick off again and Peace Corps Mali gears up to welcome another group of volunteers (including another UMW grad - Jeremy Jordan!) I'll continue to work hard to be aware of my surroundings and live in the present as I continue to learn about Mali and all the nuances that make up this rich culture.
Also, can hardly contain myself that in only 6 days Marija will be here! Wedding season is upon us (in Mali as in America) and one of the first things Marija and I will do together is go to my village's wedding party, pictures to follow!
eggplants and bubbles, is there a better combination? Thank you Heather for the bubbles and Mrs. Shellnutt for my oh-so-cool organic gray t-shirt
Pictures for the previous blog post - the internet was being slow and wouldn't post them so here they are!
Shea butter- whipping the mix
this is what ground shea nuts look like
Cooking lunch for 40 women isn't easy! here's rice and sauce
Shea nuts on our homemade solar dryer
Posted by Jennifer at 6:04 AM