Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I sure did! Just about every volunteer stationed in the region of Kolda came to the Kolda Regional House for the holiday. We killed and cooked a huge turkey and a huge chicken, a bunch of the girls down here cooked pies all day (7 or 8 pies of all different flavors...), we had stuffing and green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole and oh my god it was amazing.
On other occasions I've done some of the cooking but this time I just sat out and relaxed. I still haven't gotten over the meal; it was so perfect and so delicious I can't grasp it yet. Soon a proper way to thank everyone that cooked will come to my mind, but for now I'll just be incredibly content that our Thanksgiving went so perfectly well.
I've been thinking about this during our holiday spent here... and I feel I need to take a moment to dispel the somewhat prevailing idea of what Africa is like:
The idea that the people of sub-Saharan Africa are incredibly poor and unhappy is a myth that must be forgotten because to believe in it is a cruel mistake, granted an innocently-ignorant one. We as PCVs are happy here and they are happy to have us! Together we spend our days sharing and developing ideas, cooking food, gossiping, picking cotton, planting trees, teaching kids, joking, dancing, playing games, fishing, farming, eating mangoes and oranges and peanuts and corn and bananas and coconuts, in general having fun and living life!
Oh, to be in this position in life! Every day we volunteers are working towards creating a better future for our host country nationals. We stretch our minds out to their limits trying to come up with sustainable and practical ways to improve lives here. And in the process we and they are constantly gaining knowledge. The best part of it all is that the primary motivation of our work is love; immense love of life, of our hosts here, of the children and mothers and women and men who are here working their butts off trying to make better lives for themselves.
Life is hard here, but it's full of fun and happiness. Africa -- and specifically West Africa and even more specifically Senegal -- is not a poor and conflict ridden place; that image should not automatically come to your head when you think of "Africa". Sure it's really hot, and its dry, and the roads are bad sometimes, and the cars are usually in disrepair, etc., but every day is not spent thinking about the bad. People are happy and motivated by a vision of a future of better roads and better cars and increased income and health.
How was the meeting? Everything went VERY well, and I can't wait to tell you about it. People were reluctant to show up to the meeting times I had set, so we had to try to hold the meeting three times, but the third time worked and a good amount of people showed. I'll speak more about the progression of our plans for a kindergarten in my next post. For now, I have an annoying headache. I'm going to relax and read my book and drink my Coke and enjoy life, I earned it!