It’s been almost a month since my last post, so I’ll give a quick update on things. After IST in Bamako we were left to go on our own. It was the first time I truly felt on my own since coming here. From the beginning we had always followed some sort of schedule. Now we live by our own schedules. So, following IST a few other volunteers and I caught a ride back to our homestay sites to visit our families. It had been several months since I last saw everyone and they were really glad I came. We stayed one night and headed back into Bamako. It would have been a nice trip had I not lost my phone on the way there. Not having a phone here is both stressful and liberating. You really feel cut off from everyone. I went phoneless for a few days after that, partially because I was too lazy to go buy a new one, but in a way I’ll admit I liked the feeling of being cut off and left to my own means. I stayed a night at the stage house in Bamako one night and caught a cab to the bus station early the next morning where I made the 7am up to Severe. There are a lot of bus services here, but Africa Tours is my favorite. They have a/c and a free meal which in my opinion is worth the 20$ for a 10 hour bus ride. After getting to Severe, instead of staying the night I caught another transport to Bandiagara and stayed the night there. I headed back to site the next afternoon.
We didn’t wait long to start working. A few days after getting back I met with the mayor and we worked up a budget for fixing a few of the wells. None of them have covers and two of the most commonly used are simple holes in the ground. I’m currently working on typing up the request for funds from USAID. It’s a very tedious job. I’ve been doing other small things around town as well. The other day I made porridge for the women who brought their babies to be vaccinated at the CSCOM, and gave a small animation on infant nutrition. Animations are a main part of what I do. Sensitizing people to health problems in the community is the best way for me to help out. I also have a small tree nursery going full of Morenga. I find ways to keep busy.
Sometimes, though you just have to find an excuse to relax and do something fun. Recently I’ve started playing basketball at the school. Every afternoon there are about 20 people that come out to play so we shoot around and then play a game. There is a surprising amount of good ballers out here. I also try to read as much as I can. We have quite the library here in Bandiagara so there’s a lot to choose from. I’m currently reading a collection of C.S. Lewis books. I just finished The Great Divorce and moved on to Miracles. I’m also reading A History of God by Karen Armstrong. Most volunteers have a lot of time to read and go through several books per week. I’m not a fast reader and like to take my time with books. I really only have time to read at night and in the mornings. I usually fall asleep to reading.
There were a few celebrations the last month. For the 4th we celebrated a lot of people’s birthdays as well, including my own, in Bandiagara. It involved drinking beers poolside, and making cocktails out of gin and bis-hop (hibiscus juice). Then we went to a hotel to eat and dance. Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday cards and packages. You are awesome!
That’s about all for now. Thanks everyone for your continued support and prayers.