The Site Announcement
So, I have big news! I found out my permanent site! And I met my counterpart from my village who I will be working with for the next two years. And tomorrow, I go there!
I will be living in a small village about 25km from San, which is in the Eastern part of Mali near the Burkina Faso border. I will have my own concession with a two room house and my own walled in yard. There is no electricity in my village, and the well is roughly 200 meters from my house. Cell phone service is supposedly spotty but I should be able to find it somewhere. The closest volunteer to my site has been here since July and will be about 10 km from me. Apparently the volunteers around San are a good group, and I can’t wait to meet them. Two girls from my stage of volunteers will be near me in San, and they should be within 30 km of me, which is nice. I will likely be working with the women in the village to increase their shea butter production, among many other things. I am the first volunteer to ever go to this village, and I am beyond excited to start off on the right foot.
Every volunteer gets a counterpart in their village who is the member of the village who is responsible for providing assistance, advice, and connections to others in the village. My counterpart will be an invaluable resource for me during my service.
My counterpart is named Aly Fako Coulibaly and he is awesome. He speaks minimal French and I, minimal Bambara, but he is extremely eager and excited and I can’t wait to get the language skills to talk with him. He told me this morning that my language might be slow right now, but in three months, I will speak soooo much Bambara. We’ve had two days of sessions at the training center, some of them together and some of them not. He likes to sit in the front and listen and take notes, despite having only a 5th grade education. I’m not entirely certain of his role in the village but I think he makes birth certificates? I’m sure I’ll find out much more soon. It’s so motivating to see a village never having had a volunteer before be so excited to have one come, I want nothing more than to give them the world—and I haven’t even met them yet.
Tomorrow I go to site visit, which is a week where I get to go to my site, meet people, figure out what I need to get done at my house when I move in, and more or less get a feel for what my real service will be about. San is about a 7 hour bus ride from here, so we’ll get an early start and hopefully I’ll get to my site in early evening. There may or may not be a 7 km bike ride at the end of my trip (haha, imagine me riding my bike 7 km with my big backpack on after a 7+ hour bus ride in 100 degree heat and no AC……) Anyways, I will be in San towards the end of the week, then back here next weekend so I can update then with more glorious details about the rest of my service.
One last update is that I have decided to keep the name Bougourie Diarra. I have also figured out why people laugh at Bougourie: it means dust. It’s a Bambara name, which I find unique because most names are from the Koran. Traditionally, if a woman has trouble with miscarriages and her small children dying, she will name her child something like dirt or trash or ugly or Bougourie so that God will pass over the child and not take it away from the world. I figure that besides the fact that I already answer to Bougourie, it comes loaded with Bambara protection from the Gods, which can’t hurt.
Anyways, I am besides myself with excitement to find out about my future tomorrow. My service is turning out to be everything I imagined it would be, and I can’t wait to get to know everyone in my village and find out how I can be useful to them. It’s going to be grand.← The Reunification of Chrissy and her Bike The Arrival →