Trip to Pikine

Trip Start May 20, 2008
Trip End Jun 19, 2008

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Today we traveled to Pikine which is one of the poorest areas of Dakar. We visited a school where the ages of the children range from kindergarten to 5th grade. I have never seen such a mess in my life! The school consisted of 4 classrooms all of which had holes in the roof and concrete falling from the walls. The "courtyard" was nothing more than an area full of sand and make-shift benches. Despite the fact that this was the most poor and sad looking area I have ever visited, the people seemed extremely happy.
When we first arrived at the school, we were greeted with kind words, hand shakes, and kisses (yes, they kiss here). We then made our way through a very dirty alley and in through a concrete open doorway. There was the school. The kids were in class and so we had to remain quiet as we observed. They were extremely well behaved. Idrissa Fall, the director of the school, took us on a tour around the school while classes finished up. The area, being on a river, is very prone to flooding and so he showed us their system to try and prevent that from occurring. The neighborhood around the school was definitely third world. Lots of poverty, trash eating goats, and tiny little man-made shacks full of strange trinkets and produce.
After our tour, we joined the kids in song and traditional Senegalese dance. It was CRAZY!!! The drums and the dancing were very up beat and every one was having a blast. Even those of us who had no clue what were doing...we danced, sang, and clapped and had a great time.
Once the dancing was over, I got some time to spend with the kids. As you can see in some of my pictures, I made some great friends. They all loved having their pictures taken and would jump at the opportunity to see a picture of themself or their friend. It truly blew me away to see their excitement over a picture. They were all adorable...I would so bring them home if I could.
At the end of our visit, they all huddled in a big group and followed us out to our buses to tell us goodbye. It was a crazy but amazing start to my trip here in Senegal. I was joking with Mom that it may have been a better transition into international travel if I would have experienced Mexico first, then tried to tackle Dakar...but she knows me better and I have found that adapting here is pretty easy. The people are some of the most friendly people I have ever met.
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