Senegal, West Africa
Service Start Date: August 2010

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Girls' Leadership Camp Fundraising

Hello All!
As mentioned below a group of us volunteers here in the Fatick, Kaolack, and Kaffrine regions are planning a week long summer leadership camp for girls all over our regions. Please check out the link below and we'd appreciate it if you could help us fund the camp. Thank you!
Any donation of any amount would be greatly appreciated by us volunteers and would contribute to the girls’ knowledge and growth in the battle to keep them in school and to keep them from falling for societal pressures to marry early!!!! Thank you guys again so much and love you all!!!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fatick, Senegal: My New Home Is Starting to Feel Like Home :)

Hello Everyone!!!! Gosh, it’s been too long since my last post so I’ll waste no more time in re-capturing my past three months here :)

January: My Birthday and Laura’s (the PC volunteer who was here in 2006-2008) Visit

So the month of January was kicked off with a very low key New Year’s Eve and Day as described in my last post. Of course right after that was my birthday!!! Woo-Hoo, I am 27 now, oh my! Haha! So, I ended up celebrating my birthday (Monday, January 10th) with my family here in Fatick and with my fellow Peace Corps volunteer friends in Kaolack (where our regional house is located/only 1 hour east of Fatick). On the morning of my birthday I opened up my beautiful birthday cards that my family had sent me and I cried like a baby:) (Thank you Emma, Mom, and Dad SO MUCH!!!) Also, my friend Amy arrived from her village; she left her village at 5 a.m. to arrive in Fatick at 11 a.m. with some cheese and bread in hand to compliment the bottle of wine and bar of dark chocolate that were sitting in my kitchen patiently waiting for Monday evening :) Thank you, Amy SO MUCH!!!!

Amy and I had an awesome lunch with my family, where my mom and all of the kids sang happy birthday to me in French and where we ate WAY too much ceeb u jen (rice and fish)! Waa Kër Ndao Style! (Translation: Ndao Family Style…I swear, my family eats REALLY well…we even have crab in our bowl sometimes, no joke!). So after an amazing lunch with my family, Amy and I somehow managed to walk back to my place where we caught up on our lives and exchanged lots of laughs, hugs, and tears :) By 8pm our cheese, chocolate, bread, and wine birthday extravaganza was in full force in my living room, accompanied by great music and conversation. At 9pm we were invited by my landlord to have dinner with him and his family. They set the table really nicely for us and we enjoyed a super yummy traditional Senegalese couscous dinner. By the end of the day, Amy and I were ready to explode from all of the food we had eaten! I was able to call to my parents in the US in the afternoon and I received tons of texts and phone calls from my volunteer friends throughout the entire day, starting at 7am and ending at 10pm, and I seriously could not have been more grateful for all of the love they all showed me on my special day! Thanks guys!!!!

So moving on to late January, as many of you have already seen from my photos on Facebook, the volunteer who served in Fatick during 2006-2008 came to visit her family and friends for a week and stayed with me. Her name is Laura (or Ndella) and she is a cute little thing and a total firecracker from the east coast :) Laura’s visit couldn’t have come at a better time. It was right before her visit, about 5 months into my service, that I really started questioning if I would ever be effective here because of the language and integration difficulties I was having at the moment and honestly will continue to have throughout my service here. I was closing off from the world around me because of my insecurities with the languages and my fear of not being good enough to do the job but, hanging out with Laura and tagging along with her everywhere she went that one week showed me that the most important part of my service here will be the relationships I form with the people of Fatick and not how many business classes I teach.

Seeing the way people remembered Laura’s name after two years and the huge smiles they got on their faces when they saw her really touched my heart. Also, seeing the way Laura talked and interacted with everyone just so naturally, as I am sure she does in the US with her family and friends there, really left me in awe and opened my eyes to what this experience should really be about. Laura was one of the lucky volunteers like me who got to learn two languages at once so seeing her still being able to speak both French and Wolof really filled me with hope when I most needed it :) Laura sweetie, thank you so much for everything and for all of the great advice, having you here and seeing the way you interacted with your family and friends has been absolutely invaluable to my service :) Keep shining my love and know that I am always thinking about you especially when the neighbor kids call me by your name! Hahaha! Love you, girlie!

February: My trip to Kedougou (9 hours southeast of Fatick in the bottom right corner of the country) and W.A.I.S.T. West African Invitational Softball Tournament (this event should totally be named WAISTED instead WAIST, I am sure you can imagine why)

I spent the first weekend of February at a training on how to build pumps for wells at the Kedougou Peace Corps regional house in Kedougou, Senegal. I left Fatick on Wednesday the 2nd, got to Kedougou on Thursday the 3rd, finished the training on Sunday the 6th, and got back to Fatick on Tuesday the 8th. Needless to say, it was quite an exhausting trip but nonetheless a super fun adventure:).

For starters, I got to see lots of good friends I hadn’t seen in a while, I got to see some monkeys with funny butts in their natural habitat (I think they might’ve been baboons:)), I learned about the ins and outs of how to make and operate a rope pump (I am currently trying to implement this in Fatick, more on this below:)), I got to slab some fresh cement into some molds and got down and dirty daisy style:), I ate a warthog sandwich (tasted just like pork!!!), I ate the most delicious homemade pizza on planet earth (no joke, us peace corps volunteers can cook!), I survived a really long hike to see a really beautiful waterfall!!!, I think I threw out my lower back during that hike, I saw the waterfall!!!, I got a full body massage by one of the housekeepers’ sister who is a certified masseuse because I couldn’t stand the pain in my lower back the day after the hike to the waterfall, I felt like I was at summer camp because the regional house looks like campgrounds, did I mention that I threw up at the end of the hike because of exhaustion and because of my malaria pills? yeah, and lastly but most importantly, I got to see the people of Kedougou, the Pulaars, who in my opinion are the most sweet and humble people in all of Senegal :). In all, my trip to Gou-Land was super fun:):):). Thank you, Kedougou, I really liked you; however, I don’t think that your trail to Segou Falls liked me:). Until we meet again….
Okay, so moving on to mid-February…WAIST. The West African Invitational Softball Tourney is obviously a softball tourney but it is for all of us Americans living in West Africa:). It was held in Dakar and it was LOADS of fun! My team, the Kaolack region team (all 50 of us), dressed up as ballerinas and got our little too-toos handed to us at the end of most of our games. We were there to have a good time but somehow got put in the competitive league because of our size:). Anyway, the weekend was full of lots of American food (I even had a philly cheese steak sandwich and a super yummy grilled chicken club sandwich!), lots of drinks (both virgin and not so virgin drinks), lots of crazy dancing (daisy style dancing:)), and just lots of fun! I stayed with a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Randy) from Peace Corps Nicaragua and his family (his wife Ericka who is Nicaraguan and their super cute little ones: Valentina and Diegito). Staying with them seriously felt like I was home in the States! Since Ericka’s mom was visiting from Nicaragua the house was all Spanish and it was great! Ericka and her mom Zoila are the biggest sweethearts I have ever met and really made me feel like I was at home and part of their family:). Thank you, Randy and Ericka, I really do not have the words to express just how grateful I am for having had the chance to stay with you guys and I can’t wait for Diegito’s birthday party in late April!

March: My Current Projects…YAY, I Started Working!!!!

I taught a marketing class in French!!! So, for four weeks I taught a marking class on Thursdays and Fridays, 3 hours on Thursdays and 2 hours on Fridays:). I nearly pee-peed my pants that first day!!! Haha! I taught the class at the local CDEPS in Fatick. CDEPS is a youth vocational school that offers technical classes to people out of the regular school system. My class consisted of 24 ladies between the ages of 19-35. I was older than most but younger than some:). I really enjoyed the class and I think the ladies got a lot out of it too. We went over marketing theories and techniques in depth and I tried to make the class as relevant and fun as possible for the ladies. Also, teaching the class in French helped my language skills A LOT! I had to prep about 5-8 hours before each class but overall it was a great experience and I made some really good friends because of it:). The ladies want me to continue to teach them and I do too but since I have other projects going on, I won’t be able to teach them again until after July.

About my other projects: I am currently working with a local agricultural/farming association in Fatick called ADN (Association de Développment de Ndiaye-Ndiaye ). They are a really motivated and humble group that need help and are located about 1km south from my place in the quartier of Ndiaye-Ndiaye. Ndiaye-Ndiaye is a farming/agricultural neighborhood in Fatick. Our water here in Fatick is really salty since it comes from the Sine-Saloum Delta, but Ndiaye-Ndiaye has lots of wells and that is actually where our drinking water comes from and that is also why Ndiaye-Ndiaye is the agricultural neighborhood in Fatick. With that said, I am currently working on getting low cost/adaptable well pumps in Ndiaye-Ndiaye. As I write this, I am currently in Kedougou again but this time I am here buying a rope pump to take back to Fatick so that we can replicate it there and install some of those guys in Ndiaye-Ndiaye :). I plan on jumping onboard on a grant my friends are writing to get 52 pumps in 52 weeks in the regions of Kolda and Fatick. The grant would pay for two-thirds of a pump and so the receiving individual or group would have to contribute one-third of the cost. These pumps are inexpensive, adaptable, and efficient which is great because pulling water from a well is not fun! Plus, having a pump would increase farming efficiency in Ndiaye-Ndiaye and the adaptability of the technology of these pumps make them sustainable and easy to keep up and implement elsewhere in Fatick after I leave:). Also, since I know close to nothing about agriculture, I am trying to get one of my aggie friends to come up to Fatick and show some members of the ADN and me composting and agricultural techniques so that we can start implementing some of those techniques here and so that I can get these guys ready for a Moringa tree tournee that my region will be doing in early July :). I’ll keep you guys posted on my progress with ADN :).

Aside from my work with ADN, I have started to work on some Gender and Development projects us Peace Corps volunteers have going on here. I have currently started working with two middle schools in Fatick in nominating some of their top female students for The Michele Sylvester Memorial scholarship that our Peace Corps SeneGAD (Gender and Development) program offers. Here is a brief description of the scholarship: The Michele Sylvester Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in 1993 in memory of Michele Sylvester, a Peace Corps Volunteer dedicated to girls’ education in Senegal. Its purpose is to help close the gender gap in education and to keep girls in school. The scholarship provides money for the school fees for nine girls at each middle school working with a volunteer, and for school supplies for three of those girls. School faculty members determine the original nine girls, the volunteer chooses six finalists, and a Selection Committee picks the three winners. The Selection Committee uses a personal essay written by the candidate; an interview of the candidate by the volunteer; the candidate’s grades; and recommendations written by a teacher and the volunteer to make its decisions, based on the following four criteria: motivation, ability, financial need, and recognition. So let’s help keep some girls motivated and in school!!!

Last but not least, I am currently working alongside the other 49 volunteers in my region (the Fatick, Kaolack, and Kaffrine regions) in planning and fundraising for our regional girls’ camp that will take place in late June this year in Badoudou, Fatick. Our girls camp is called Camp de Connaissance et Croissance and is a leadership camp for 40 middle school girls between the ages of 13 and 15. I personally will be bringing three girls from Fatick to the camp :). The camp is a weeklong development program and in that week we Peace Corps volunteers hope to give every participant an experience which will stay with her for a lifetime. We work hard to ensure that every girl says goodbye at the end of the week with increased self-confidence, improved communication skills, a greater capacity for leadership, lifelong friendships, and higher self-esteem. The camp costs have totaled to be about $5,500 USD and I need everyone’s help as we have about $3,400 USD to go! We hope to raise the rest of the money by May as we need to start purchasing a lot of the supplies and we need to start paying for the lodging. So pretty please help!!! Here is the website to our camp with lots of details and photos from last year’s camp and a link to donate (all donations are tax-deductible) so please take a look :).

So there we have it guys! Crazy me in action! (Well, sort of…) I would love to say that everything is going to work out as planned, but I don’t know that yet. All I know is that I absolutely love working with people. Getting to know my students, the farmers, and the teenage girls I work with and making an effort to better understand them so that I can better serve them is so much more important to me than ‘getting it right’, whatever that may be:) ADN in Fatick is an amazing group of hard-working and motivated individuals that I hope to grow closer to within these next few months. And for those of you who know me quite well, you know that I whole-heartedly enjoy working with female teenagers. I’m not too sure why, maybe it’s because they remind of me when I was their age and I can remember just how hard it was to have self-love and confidence at such a critical age since it’s still lots of hard work for me to love and trust myself even nowadays:) In all, Fatick really is starting to feel like home. I’m still the crazy white girl for some, but for most, I am a neighbor, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and/or just plain ol’ Ndeye Koumba Ndao (my Senegalese name:)). So guys, until next time and please know that I keep all of you back home close to my heart :) I love you all SOO much and lots of hugs and kisses!!!

XOXO- Daisy:) aka Ndeye Koumba Ndao :) 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My December :)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!!! I miss everyone back home a bunch and I cannot believe it is January already! So crazy how time just flies! In about a week I’ll be 27 years old (so weird as I feel and act as if I were still 12!) and it’ll be five months since I left the states…so crazy! I’m not too sure how I feel about this whole ‘I’m in my late 20’s now’ thing but we’ll see…I figured staying young isn’t about age, it’s about heart, or at least that’s my excuse J

So winter (as I know it) really does not exist here in Senegal. The coldest it has gotten so far has been around 70 degrees F (I think) and that is actually starting to feel quite cold to me now K heeheehee…The month of December brought me lots of things. First came an intensive two weeks of ‘In-Service’ training with my fellow Peace Corps Volunteer friends of whom many I hadn’t seen since we swore in as official volunteers back in mid-October. Next came an amazing Christmas on the beaches of Poponguine, Senegal where I reflected on the meaning and importance of family and friends, successfully prepared a Mexican Christmas Eve dinner, and ate WAY too much good food and therefore probably gained another seven poundsJ Lastly, came a very calm New Year’s Eve in Fatick with my host family where I ate some freshly slaughtered chicken, headed home at about 11:30pm, bought some beignets (donut-type goodies) at the local boutique, prepared some tea, lit my Sacred Heart candle, and toasted the new year with me, myself, and I, and my Lord J Oh, and I can’t forget the massive amount of goodies my mom and my sister Emma sent me and the beautiful daisy flower stocking full of surprises that my Betty sent me J Thank you ladies SOOO much!

2 week In-Service Training: …was very long and tiring. However, I was super duper excited to see the other volunteers who are on this crazy journey with me J We were broken up into our sectors and had about 8 hours of class per day where we learned about the different types of projects that we can possibly get involved in or start in our communities. On the weekend of the 12th/13th some of us went to Dakar for the World-Wide Black Arts Festival. Peace Corps hosted an exposition of local artists of all sorts (jewelry makers, leather workers, painters, etc) that Peace Corps Volunteers work with at their sites and I was fortunate enough to have been able to take a local painter from Fatick. By the end of the exposition, my artist ended up selling all six of his paintings so that was really exciting for both of us J Also, at the exposition I met a handful of RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) who had previously served in other parts of the world and are now living and working in Senegal for NGOs or other organizations. One couple in particular was extremely sweet and it happens to be that the husband works for USAID and is in charge of a couple of education projects that are currently in effect in Fatick. I’ll touch on this a little later J

It’s Christmas time!:  ...and three days before Christmas Day I found myself crying all over the place. It was right after I had begun to read a chapter about mothers, daughters, and sisters from the book titled Captivating that I completely starting bawling. It was kind of funny because I seriously could not stop. So I forced myself to take a breather and asked myself what was going on and in doing so I realized that I REALLY missed my family, especially my mom. I guess this experience (especially this experience during Christmas time) is showing me how grateful I should be to have my mom and how easy it is for me to take her for granted for whatever the reasons. I know that at the drop of a hat mom will always try her best to be there for me in whatever way she can. Sometimes she can be there for me emotionally when I need her to be and sometimes she can’t and that’s fine. She’ll send me ten sports bras when I only asked for a pack of 3 or 4 boxes of Mexican candy when I only really needed a few pieces J And that’s the way she loves me and I love it! And I feel so grateful to have remembered this during my crying spell J My mother and mothers in general are just so beautiful and really, for me at least, Christmas is just not the same without my mom. However, even though I was physically away from my mom and dad and my gazillion brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews (I know you guys are laughing right now!) during the days leading up to Christmas, I still felt as if each and everyone’s love for me filled my heart, not to mention the love and support that you guys (my friends) back home have extended to me which leads me to talk about Christmas Day.

So by Christmas Day the tears that had come out of my eyes three days before had diminished J I figured if God gave me the gift of tears, then I would use those bad boys up! And I did! So once Christmas Eve rolled around I was in full Christmas spirit in my Santa hat, bathing suit, and red apron with the Peace Corps logo all over it feeling enlightened after the epiphany I had during my crying spell three days priorJ I spent Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the 26th at the beach in a beautiful beach house with 5 other amazing Peace Corps Volunteers whom I’m blessed to call friends. We decorated a giraffe with lights and ornaments and called it our Christmas tree, we made stockings out of my friend’s socks and some kitchen towels, we wrapped up our secret Santa presents, wrote a letter to Santa and even left some cookies and milk out for him (and a carrot for his reindeers), had a bonfire where we made smores and lit up some fireworks, and we cooked up a storm throughout our stay there. But the most memorable of things that we did (at least for me), was on the night of the 24th as we sat at the table getting ready to eat dinner in the candlelight (since the power had gone out) with the sound of the waves crashing in the background. Each one of us very vulnerably expressed our feelings at the moment and toasted to those feelings and to new memories. We shared how we missed our families and friends back home but how grateful we were for this experience but more importantly for one another. And it is something that my friend said that caused me to have another epiphany. I can’t remember the exact words he said but after genuinely expressing his vulnerable feelings he toasted to new friends, new memories, and new family. And it hit me, that friends aren’t just ‘friends’ but that friends are family, not in the traditional sense of the word but you get my gist. This is nothing new, I’ve always heard it but somehow I never really understood it until that night. That we were put on this earth to love one another like true brothers and sisters because life is hard and because that is exactly what we are, family, all of us, whether we are white, black, brown, green, yellow, whatever, we are all family putting up with each others’ good side and not so good side and genuinely wanting the best for one another because we are all on this crazy hard journey called life trying to find happiness meaning and trying not to lose hope after taking some of life’s beatings because we all know that we can get beat up by life from time to timeJ Sometimes we look for happiness in all the wrong places for all the right reasons or in all the right places for all the wrong reasons, or whatever, but whatever it is, we are all on this journey together and  I like that J That I’m never alone because I have all of you guys and all of everyone here and more importantly I have God as I stumble and fall while trying to find my way as I travel through this thing called life (and Peace Corps J) yay! Okay sorry, I totally ranted…on to New Year’s Eve, it’ll be short, I promise!

New Year’s Eve! 5,4,3,2,1 yay!: So as I had mentioned earlier, I spent the countdown in my room with my Sacred Heart candle lit and my apple spice tea and some beignets. It was awesome but I still can’t believe its 2011! So crazy! I took time that day to reflect on 2010 and it still seems so surreal to me that I am actually here in Senegal, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer with only really a small clue about what I’ll be doing during my service here but nonetheless with an open heart and an open mind (or at least I hope so because we all know how easy it is to close off our hearts and stay in our ‘safe’ placeJ). I just feel so grateful for all of the wonderful memories and lessons I’ve had to learn during 2010. But I am the most grateful for all of the love and support you have all shown me. Yes all of you! Whether you are a friend I haven’t talked to in a while, or a friend who knows way too much about meK, or my previous coworker, or my niece or nephew, or one of my sisters or brothers, or someone who happened to stumble across this funky blog, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, really, for accepting me for who I am with all of my craziness J

So with that said, I guess we’ll just have to see what 2011 brings for me here J I hope to collaborate with the RPCV that I met at the Artisan Expo on the USAID projects on education in Fatick to hopefully help some kids out along the way to help them gain some job skills or help them realize the importance of staying in school. I don’t know yet, all I know is that I trust that I am where I need to be in life right now and I have to remind myself that I am here to serve the needs of the people of Fatick. Translation: I need to put all of my fears and inadequacies aside and trust in myself and in life. I know that I’ll fall and stumble along the way and will have to pick myself up and keep going but as of right now I will be grow visiting each quartier (community) in Fatick during the month of January to try and get a better picture of what is going on so that I can better assess Fatick’s needs and resources in order to serve those needs bestK I’ll keep you guys posted. So broken French, broken Wolof, and little heart of mine here we go…may this New Year be full of love, joy, fulfillment, and peace for all of usJ Love you and miss you all a bunch! Happy New Year!



Sunday, November 28, 2010

My First Three Months in Country!

Hello Everyone! I am finally updating my blog! Yay! I apologize for not writing in this thing earlier and hope you all have enjoyed the lovely pictures of my journey so far that I have posted on facebook J For my friends and family that do not know the details of my departure, here they are: I accepted an invitation into the Peace Corps program in Senegal, West Africa early July of this year, 2010. I pretty much quit my job, packed up my life in about a month, moved out of San Diego on Sunday August 1st, and took my flight out of LAX on the morning of Sunday August 8th. I managed to somehow survive two demanding months of cultural and language training and was sworn in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer on Friday, October 15thJ I am currently serving in Fatick, Senegal as a Small Enterprise(Business) Development Volunteer. So, here is a summary of my first three months as a Peace Corps Trainee/Volunteer in Senegal, West Africa J

Training in both the city of Thies and small village of Bayakh, Senegal (August 11th-October 15th): Okie dokie so about my first two months in Senegal as a Peace Corps trainee, it was hard! Hahaha…It was very demanding emotionally and physically but it was a very beautiful experience.  I arrived in Senegal the morning of Wednesday, August 11th along with 63 other wonderful Peace Corps Trainees. We spent 5 days together at the Peace Corps Senegal training center in Thies and then got split up into small groups (depending on the languages we were learning) and were sent off to live in training villages for the remainder of the training. Each trainee was assigned a host family to live with so, needless to say we all pretty much jumped into the culture right away! My training village was Bayakh which is a road town of about 6,000 inhabitants. I was assigned Bayakh along with 7 other wonderful trainees whom I miss a bunch already J We took language classes and classes about the Senegalese culture for about 6 hours a day 7 days a week with the exception of a couple of Sundays that were allotted as free time. About every 2 to 3 weeks we would meet up with the other trainees from the other training villages for security, health, and technical classes at our training center in Thies. For me and the other Small Enterprise Development (SED) trainees, our technical classes consisted of learning about different projects that current and past SED volunteers had done and the options that were available to us. For our agricultural trainees (aggies), their trainings consisted of agriculture stuff and the same thing went for our agroforestry trainees (agfos).

I took French language classes for the first 7 ½ weeks and then switched over to Wolof language classes for the last week and a half. While French is officially the national language of Senegal, Wolof is a native language that is spoken throughout the country. My host family during training was just plain awesome! They were so nice and patient with me and I am just so grateful for that.  My training host parents were a young couple who were very open and excited to have me there even though I really couldn’t verbally communicate during the first half of trainingJ I swear, whenever I needed to use the restroom I would just grab my stomach and point to the outhouse! Yeah, most of my communication during the first half of training consisted of hand signals and acting out the things I wanted to do J However, I really enjoyed being humbled to the point that I felt like I was a toddler again J It was very humbling indeed! I also had a really cool host grandma who only spoke Wolof, 2 aunts (1 of whom was my caretaker and my best friend in villageJ), 1 cousin, and two little sisters who are absolutely adorable. We all lived in one compound and I had my own room. I ate all my meals with the family and even learned how to tie my baby sister onto my back! I would go to the boutique sometimes with my baby sister on my back and my neighbors would go nuts about it! They absolutely loved it! I also learned how to dance the ‘Goana’ dance and I am really starting to believe that I was perhaps Senegalese in my past life. I can get down to ‘Goana’, trust me!  I took bucket baths (no showers for me thank you!) and even learned how to correctly go number 1 in a Turkish toilet (aka squat toilet)J But most importantly, through all of the ambiguity and frustration that adjusting to a new culture and learning two new languages brings, I am most happy and grateful about the relationships I was so blessed to have been able to build with my fellow trainees, my host family, and with some community members of Bayakh during those two months of training J

In all, even though training was difficult because of all of the adjustments to so much change, it was exactly what it needed to be for me and I am just so grateful that I was able to share my tears, laughter, fears, and love with my training family and fellow trainees J

My first month as an official Peace Corps Volunteer in Fatick, Senegal (Thursday October 21st-Today Sunday November 28th): So my first month at site has been quite exciting and interesting and intimidating all at the same time! Fatick is a regional capital and is a pretty big city of about 26K-30K inhabitants. I have electricity, running water, and even a shower head in my new place! I feel very blessed to have these amenities since most of my fellow Peace Corps friends here live in villages of about 200-1,000 people and live in huts with no electricity and no running water. So my hat off to them for sure! There are a handful of NGOs and other organizations here in Fatick that I will probably work with in the near future. I really haven’t started to ‘work’ and probably won’t for maybe another six months as I need to focus on integrating into the community and increasing my language skills. French is coming along slowly but surely and I’ve just really started to dive into Wolof so I have a feeling it’s going to be a while before I get comfortable with the languages and I’m okay with thatJ

Life on my own as a Peace Corps volunteer here in Fatick is really neat. My host family is the family of my counterpart and they live about two neighborhoods west of my neighborhood. I have two little sisters and one little brother and lots of family friends. I eat lunch with my host family everyday and do breakfast and dinner on my own. My host mom Nabu is just about the sweetest thing to me. She does a lot of work with teenage girls in Fatick about HIV/Aids awareness and prevention. I even got the chance to go to one of her meetings and say a little something to the girls! That was really cool! My first day in Fatick was interesting. In a nutshell, I was super dehydrated and ended up throwing up in a boutique in the Marche while my host mom was trying to show me around and trying to help me buy food for the week J Yeah, I made a really good first impression! lol! After that, I spent the better part of the following two days in my bed crying. Heeheehee…but since then and up until yesterday my health has been okay. I currently have a pretty nasty cold but I’m sure it’ll go away soon; it’s just running its course right nowJ

So the weather here is probably the biggest threat to my health. It is HOT! Like really hot! And this is winter so I’m not too excited about spring and summer K But luckily I’ve been drinking lots of water, wearing lots of sunscreen, and I have been wearing my little hat to keep myself from dehydrating againJ The majority of the people here in Fatick have been just so nice and patient with me. Mostly everyone speaks French but Wolof and Sereer are the two languages that are spoken at home. So even though people speak French to me, they don’t necessarily speak French to each other so that’s where learning Wolof comes into play for meJ The food has been really delicious and I’ve actually even gained about 7 pounds. There is jugo de Jamaica and Tamarindo here and a dish called ‘mafe’ that is super similar to my mom’s Mexican peanut mole J As you probably have already guessed, I absolutely love that dish!

In all, my first month here in Fatick has taught me to slow down and smell the roses and daisies J Learning two languages at once, adjusting to life on my own in a foreign country, and integrating into a new culture is obviously no easy task but I’ve learned so far that taking it slow and taking each day and minute as it comes is the best thing I can do for myself out here. It’s funny, I came here to grow in the virtues of love, patience, respect, and humility towards others and I’m finding that in order to be a more loving, patient, respectful, and humble person towards others, I first have to be these things towards myself J  So with that said, let’s see what lessons I learn next J Love you all and lots of hugs and kisses!


Friday, July 30, 2010

Packing up my life...

Okay, I don't know what to write as I'm trying to get used to writing to myself and about myself to you guys. Everyone is going to have to forgive me as I will be really focusing in on myself and my feelings vs. actions. Okay, let's see, for starters I'm leaving to Senegal in just about a little more than a week and oh how I have SO much stuff to do :( I kinda want to cry but big girls don't cry so no crying for now Daisy, not yet, lets save the tears for when you actually board the plane and leave....:) and :(...
Okay, I need to figure out how to work this thing and I need to learn how to post some pictures on here so that you guys can see my adventures:) I need to finish packing and oh lets not forget that I need to move too....that's a big one...
Okay everyone (Or no one because there is no one following this thing yet! hahaha!), I'm going to have to brainstorm on finding a way to write on here that works for me so that I don't sound like a complete nut case talking to myself while trying to paint the picture for you guys of what is going on in my life :)

Alright, down to business, I love you all and I'm especially going to miss my parents, brothers, sisters, niece's, and nephews. You guys have been so much more supportive than I thought anyone could ever be. I've been having some moments lately where I forget why it is that I am leaving because I get so overwhelmed with the things I need to get done before I leave and so I become flustered and lose sight of my heart's yearnings. You guys however, always manage to keep me on track. The out pour of love and support I have gotten this past month since I accepted my Peace Corps invitation has been truly amazing and moving. I can't believe I have such a wonderful support system. I am truly very lucky and blessed to have you all in my life. Please keep me in your prayers as I want to remain loyal and faithful to my heart and to my Lord. Okay, so here are the reasons I joined PC so that you and myself can keep me accountable when things get rough.
-I'm very blessed and grateful to have realized that there is so much more to life than a 9-5. That the term success shouldn't be defined by how much money you make or what your title is at work, but should be defined by how fulfilled and happy you are with what you do. I want my work to serve people who are in need.
-My parents come from nothing, from a little teeny tiny village in Mexico. I always had it in my heart that I wanted to get a taste of how they grew up through living abroad in a developing country. I want to live a simple and humble life.
-And the best for last: I want to grow in love and trust for God. I want to learn how to completely lean on my Lord and not on myself. I have been through quite a bit in this short life of mine and the most important lesson I have learned so far is that nothing absolutely nothing in my life is complete without God. I can do great works, but if I don't open my heart and trust in God in all that I do, then I do things in vain and I do them out of selfishness and not out of pure love and service. I want to grow in love and trust for God.
Okay everyone, so there we have it, my first blog...woo hoo! I will continue to write as I approach D-Day which is Sunday August 8th.
I love you all and thank you again for your love and support <3