A few days ago our sites were announced. This means that I now know where I will be spending the next two years of my life, inchallah (God willing, or “ni alla sonna” in Bambara). There is always the chance that due to unforeseen circumstances I will have to change my site before my service ends, but there’s not much that can be done about that before I have even visited for the first time! So this is just a quick update to let you know a bit about where I'm going and what's going on this next week.
I’m very happy with how my site looks on paper as well as what other volunteers have to say about it. It is a city of decent size in the region of Ségou, with about 40,000 inhabitants. It is apparently right on the edge of the desert, however it is also situated next to a river. Unfortunately the wideness of the river at that particular location and a large water table directly underneath my city result in frequent flooding which causes serious sanitation problems. In addition, I have heard it referred to as the malaria capital of Mali, also thanks to the river. Being in this location does have some advantages though. The market is supposed to be excellent, it has a branch of my Malian bank which includes an ATM, and the city apparently has a wide diversity of ethnicities and languages because it is a bit of a crossroads for people coming in from the dessert. We’ll see how much of this is true in my experience! Although being "en brousse" has its own advantages and charm, it will be nice to not have to travel to get to my bank and market.
As for the work I’ll be doing, this is still rather up in the air. I should have the opportunity to work with a kind of women’s sewing collective teaching classes (in French) on basic business practices. I may also have the opportunity to partner with some local schools to do additional projects. One thing that is constantly reaffirmed for us, and which I love Peace Corps for, is that we can take on almost any project we want! The most important thing is that the project corresponds to the real needs of the community. We are strongly discouraged from choosing projects just because we think they are a good idea – our goal is to work with our host community, not impose what we think are solutions.
So what is the name of my site? Well according to standard Peace Corps security regulations, I can’t tell you! However, with some sleuthing you—my keen follower—may just find it on your own!
Bambara word of the day:
Sini = Tomorrow
This recording is of the donkey that helps to wake me up every morning. The first donkey you will hear in the recording is the one that lives next door. Turn your speakers up for the full nails-on-chalkboard-agony that has been my morning wakeup call.
VN810018 My Donkey by seanc