Home Sweet Home
View of our own compound from the patio
View of a mud house, thatched roof, thached hangar, and a Malian man
Last week we visited our permanent site village for the next two years. We spent 5 days with our counterparts who introduced us to all 8000 people in town one by one, including the big wigs. Our counterparts were extremely patient all week and did a great job helping us plow through a tough language barrier and begin connecting with the community.
- Visited the village chief (dugutigi) with his council, gave him a ceremonial bag of kola nuts (like huge bitter peanuts that old guys chew for a little energy boost). That was a big hit, and the dugutigi said that he approved of our names, which means that we will go by Bintu and Salim for two years
- Went to a class at the high school with Bintu's counterpart, Salim had to tell the folk tale of his last name in Bambara- many high school students laughed, watched gym class (fyi, the work out shoe of choice for young men here are jelly shoes. no joke)
- Visited the local radio stations, there are two in town, and WE MIGHT GET TO DO RADIO SHOWS!
- Visited the Mayor, Prefect, and the Police station
- Saw the local health center, where we introduced ourselves to the directors and the doctor. We gave our Malian names, and they said their American names were George Bush and Barack Obama
- Towards the end of one hot afternoon of greeting many people, someone in the village shouted at Anna's counterpart "Where are you going with those red people?!?!"
Counterparts: Bintu has a dynamic young high school teacher, "CAPI", who is a local legend because he is the soccer captain of the city team. He is married with a new baby. Salim's counterpart, "Madou" is a health relay (unpaid, trained health position that does basic healthcare for the community including vaccination days and education). He is a retired teacher who is old and kind. He has two wives who live in separate houses. We also have a third self-assigned counterpart, he is Anna's future boss, and he is THE MAN.
In short: it looks like a GREAT place to spend the next two years, start looking at your tickets to Africa.