Community Based Training
I leave again tomorrow for a fortnight stint at my CBT site. My family in Bayakh, the Amars and Jahumpas, are wonderful and plentiful. There are three buildings in my compound, and I think only about 15? people live there total, but there are constantly relatives and friends from all over Bayakh and Senegal visiting, so it’s hard to be sure. I still don’t know everyone’s names in my family, and figuring out the family relationships is far, far beyond my grasp. (This is further convoluted by the fact that polygamy is common). Since one of the only phrases I can understand in Wolof is What is her name? I get called out a lot.
It’s difficult to explain how hilarious, stressful, and absurd it is to be dropped off into a family without knowing how to communicate anything. The first few days I spent a lot of time staring off into space while my family members called my name repeatedly. It’s exhausting listening to a constant stream of noises you can’t even distinguish into words or phrases, but it’s also amazing how frequently you can understand the gist of a conversation or question without understanding a single word that was said. Non verbal communication and intuition are my best tools here.
The first full day I was in Bayakh, I went down the wrong road in search of my compound. Halfway down realizing I was lost, I turned around to head back to the main road when I was called over by a woman under a shade tree. It was lunchtime, and I was ushered into a family’s compound where I was forced to eat with 15 people and fan myself (that crazy white girl sweating buckets wandering around in the hottest part of the day!). There was so much laughing while we tried to communicate in broken French, and they sent people out in search of someone who spoke English. Finally, a boy I recognized came by the compound (I think he is related to my family somehow?), and he agreed to show me back to my house. However not before we stopped by his house, and his neighbor’s house of course. By the time we made it back to my compound, I sat down for my 4th lunch with my family!