IST, HE/EE Summit, Malari

Trip Start Aug 30, 2009
Trip End Apr 28, 2011

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Where I stayed
Thies Training Center

Flag of Senegal  , Thiès,
Friday, August 7, 2009

From July 13-July 25, all 25 volunteers from my stage traveled back to the lovely city of Thies for 2 weeks of In-Service Training. I decided while at site that during IST I was going to switch languages and attempt to learn a second indigenous language, Pulaar.  In my village there are three different ethnic groups each speaking a different language: Wolof, Pulaar, and Pula Futa.  It is usually the case that even if people are ethnically Pulaar or some other something, they will understand and speak Wolof since it is the most common language spoken here.  However, that is not the case in my village and I can really only communicate with about 1/3 of the people that I live with. Thus, I attempted to learn a small bit of Pulaar, the hardest language one can learn in Senegal (blah), while in IST.  It was hard as heck haha but I did manage to learn enough small bits of grammar that I think I can go back and improve upon what I learned as much as necessary to communicate with the Pulaars in my village.

Training this time was mostly focused on the technical aspects of being a health/environmental education volunteer.  We learned how to make latrines (holes in the ground appropriate for village life "bathrooming"), gardening, tree growing, training of local health workers, and how to find the money to pay for all of these lovely things.  All-in-all it was a successful two weeks, exhausting, but informative.  After the two weeks of training, they shuffled all of the health/ee volunteers in the country to a costal city, Joal, for a “Health/EE Summit”.  Basically, we got together and talked about HE/EE stuff.  The summit itself was more Senegalese talking and group discussions, something I certainly did not want more of after training but its part of the deal.

Now, the best part of the trip, the part that actually made it extremely worthwhile was… the bioluminescent ocean!  At night, the ocean water has something in it that causes the water to light up when it moves, the waves were bright white.  So basically if you get in the water and move your body around, there are all kinds of little glitter looking lights surrounding you.  You could lift your arm up out of the water and it would look like glitter was cascading off your body…amazing.  The two nights in a row of “glitter glow ocean” is, I have to say, one of the coolest things I have experienced in this country yet.

After the summit I went to Dakar, the capital city of Senegal, for a few days before yet another training. While in Dakar, we went to this little island off the mainland called Isle de Madeleine for a small tropical excursion.  It was amazing…the pictures speak for themselves.  The island has nothing on it whatsoever but a bunch of birds and two small structures.  One is a shade structure that I'm assuming the “tourism” people built on the island.  The second is this old half-standing building that our “guide” (aka a random Senegalese man) explained to us was “haunted” (sort of).  Apparently way back when there was this Senegalese army general who failed to execute some mission and was exhiled to this island.  The rumor is that he built a little room to live in and a “spirit” on the island destroyed it.  He apparently tried to rebuild the room and it the next day the top half was again destroyed.  Obviously there is no way to prove this but it’s a cool story.  He later died on the island…creepy.

After Dakar, I returned again to Thies for the last of my three trainings. This last training was on behavior change though the scope of working with malaria.  Needless to say, behavior change is the hardest thing in this country to work towards changing and it is the thing that needs most changing.  Behavior change anywhere is hard, but it’s ridiculously hard in a village with one literate adult and no connection with the
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