I'm living in Senegal..

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Here is a short video I made to hopefully give you a taste of my stay here! (The first couple of seconds is an example of the Muslim prayers that are projected throughout the city)

 I figured out that I'll be living in the region of Louga (northwest Senegal) , And I'll be working with the Millenium Villages Project, (http://millenniumvillages.org) I am very excited about it, but for now I am living in Dakar with the rest of the 'fellows' 

In 2 days I will have been living in Senegal for exactly one month.  First I'll begin by explaining Dakar as best as I can. 98% of the population here is Muslim, which I have found absolutely fascinating. Five times a day, prayers are projected throughout the city from extreme surround sound speakers which have been installed on the outer walls of all of the  Mosque buildings

If you were to come to Dakar, you would also find that the people carry prayer mats around with them, so that they can set their mat down and pray at any given place and time throughout the day. In almost every home you will find a portrait of the Muslim religious leader (Maribou)

Most conversations are ended with 'Alhamdulilay' which in Wolof means  thank God. When I first arrived at my host families home I was lead to the roof, where they dry their laundry and to my surprise, where the family goat lives. Every Muslim family here owns a goat so that in November they can slaughter it for their Muslim holiday, Tabaski. While begging in the U.S. is considered a shameful act, In Senegal giving alms is a duty to God, beggars are appreciated and looked at as an opportunity to better yourself in the eyes of God.

 I've also been extremely impressed by the over all generous attitude of the people of Senegal. Myself and two other fellows (fancy name for volunteer in GCY) took a taxi downtown and were trying to find a beach, and being the cliche 'toubab' (foreigner) we  couldn't find our way and asked a street artist for directions. Instead of simply pointing us in the right direction, this complete stranger walked us all the way to the beach, for a good 20 minutes. As if that wasn't enough, he stayed at the beach until we were finished (which was probably about 3 hours) so that he could walk us back to where we needed to go. I expected that he would charge us or ask for numbers or something, but he just made sure we knew where we were and then went on his way. 

I have learned that this is typical Senegalese behavior. Here, human relations are valued much more than time or money. I am embarrassed to admit it, But I have always viewed Africa as a continent in desperate need, a place where my help is greatly needed, and a place where I would have everything to offer. I have discovered that if anything, Senegal has helped me.

 I have been offered a beautiful new outlook on life, And I've embarked on the adventure of self discovery. Already I've gained more than I could ask for. And I assume that in the next 7 months of my stay here that statement will become more and more true.


  1. This should be posted in a magazine or something. It was brilliantly inspiring.

  2. ah!! you are amazing!!! I wish i could be there with you!!! LOVE YOU!!!

  3. Well written, really helped me understand your experience and the culture better. An amazing experience for an amazing person...

  4. Sounds like you are having a great experience in Senegal. I love reading about what it is like there. Yes, the call to prayer for the Muslims is hard to miss. We heard it in Israel. I'd like to know your take on a Muslim family when you get acquainted with them, particularly about the freedom women have in that culture. I had a similar experience in Japan when I was lost and hurtling off into the darkening night on a train with the sinking feeling that I was on the wrong train. No one spoke English. At the next stop, a little Japanese woman beckoned me to follow her. She took me to the stationmaster and got me back on the right train. I'll always remember her for her kindness. Love you, Gr. Klara