A Day in the Life
Now that that is out of the way, I’ll get to the blog entry at hand. I feel that the purpose of this blog is to give you all an idea of my life here and maybe tell you when something absolutely ridiculous/humorous happens. I have a daily routine and frequently run into difficulty coming up with blog entry ideas because I feel that the routine is not that interesting; however, the other day I had a pretty routine day that it now occurs to me may be a bit ridiculous to anyone that doesn’t live here/ have my life. So without further ado, I give you a rundown of my day…..
-Wake up at 7am (wanted to be up at 8am) because my family was standing outside my door looking at me in bed. They later explain to me that this is because a teenage boy has been sitting in our home compound for about an hour waiting to speak with me. I get out of bed, go to the door, and this kid that I don’t even know comes to my door and explains to me that he goes to middle school/lives on the other side of town and came over to my house to ask if I could buy him some new jellies (that’s right, those plastic sandals little girls used to wear back in the day) because one of his broke and now he can’t play soccer during gym class. Hm, NO? I don’t even know you and I don’t appreciate you coming over and thinking I’m going to give you money because I’m white/American (which is not just me being overly sensitive because my mother later clarified that he came into our house and asked if this is where the American lives).
-Before I can even eat breakfast and start the day my mom and uncle inform me that there is a family friend that I need to meet. She had been forced to marry and has since left an abusive man that had made her drop out of school. She now wants to re-enter school but is facing some difficulty and they thought maybe I could help.
-Get breakfast and on my way home run into the maid at our Peace Corps Regional House. She is riding her bike and I ask her where she lives and if she is heading to work. She tells me where she lives and then starts talking about how she isn’t happy riding a bike because women shouldn’t ride bikes but she lives too far to get to work without it. The rest of the dialogue goes a little something like this:
Me: What?! I think it’s great that you ride your bike. Why shouldn’twomen ride bikes? It’s 2008.
The Maid: I don’t like riding my bike. My parents don’t like it either. It isn’t proper for women to ride bikes. In Senegalese culture, it is wrong for women to be on bikes.
Me: I know that I’m American and our cultures are different, but a lot of Senegalese people also think girls shouldn’t go to school or work. That doesn’t necessarily make it right, right? I think it’s good that you bike.
The Maid: Yes but a woman can fall off her bike, get hurt, and never be able to have babies. They shouldn’t ride bikes.
Me: Well isn’t it true that men can also fall off their bikes, get hurt, and not be able to have babies with their women?
The Maid: Yes.
Me: Ok, so I don’t understand why it’s ok for them to ride bikes but not women.
The Maid: It just isn’t. People here think it is disrespectful for women to ride bikes. They can ride motorcycles but not bikes.
Me: Um, what?! I do not understand that but we have different cultures.
-I meet with the family friend to figure out how we can get her back into school after her two year break. Then I start the process of meeting with people at the Ministry of Education to get her re-enrolled. It looks like things will work out and she will re-enter school next fall.
-Eat lunch with my family and prepare for a busy afternoon.
-Stop at a restaurant to pick up Senegalese lunch for the twelve scholarship candidates I’m going to be meeting with after they finish school.
-Get to the school, serve the girls lunch and sodas, and explain to them that I’m there because they are the twelve brightest girls at their school and the Peace Corps will be giving one of them a scholarship for the next school year. Each girl then writes a small essay about her life and dreams for the future.
-I bike back to the restaurant to drop off all the empty bowls and silverware that are tied to the back of my bike.
-I then visit the houses of three scholarship candidates from another school that I’m working with. I interview each girl and explain the scholarship to their parents.
-Exhausted, I return home to take a bucket bath and call it a night. I get into my misquito net to listen to the BBC on my shortwave radio and read a bit before passing out around 9:30. I’ll have to get a good night’s rest so I can do it all over again the next day.