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September; First Aid, Dogs, Wounds, and Tabaski - nonstop month

            A new month has started and we’re into a new program year. This program year will see many alterations due to funding changes and it will be interesting to see those modifications unfold. We’re enjoying life back in our little office and are extremely thankful for two ceiling fans and four large windows. We have given up trying to smell nice as every day and night involves constantly sweating. The only thing that brings relief is the rain. Part of the plethora of greetings during this time of year is, “Naka tangay bi?” which means, “How is the heat?”. Thankfully, the pace of life is different here and I (Jessica) enjoy it. For example, if it’s too hot, you work slower, or take a nap, and then continue working. David, however, finds this challenging at times.

            While we don’t have anything new to report on in regards to the curriculum (we’re currently having it edited), we have experienced and done quite a few things in the last few weeks. David taught a first aid course to several of the metal/car shop guys and the wood workers who are stationed at Herma’s. David, who is very practiced in teaching first aid, did have a few learning curves. The course was adapted to be taught strictly using pictures and demonstrations as many people cannot read or write. Translation was another hurdle; David taught in English, Abdoulaye, the head of the woodworking shop who thankfully speaks English, translated into Wolof, and I piped in a few French terms/definitions when more explanation was needed. Another moment of innovation was needed when it came to CPR mannequins. David decided to make the mannequins, with the help of the shop, which is a story in and of itself. All in all, things went very well and the guys really enjoyed learning the material. This also provided us with a practice run, as David will be teaching two different first aid classes in Linguère, for World Renew, in October.

            Since teaching the first aid course, word has gotten out that David is a nurse. Almost every other day, someone comes to the house asking to see David. Normally it involves at least a 3-way translation of symptoms with the conclusion that they have to go to a clinic as David does not have the tests/supplies necessary to find out what’s wrong. However, several people (mostly children) who have burns or cuts, have come to the house and David has cleaned the wounds and wrapped them, giving instructions for how to take care of it. Apparently the medical system here involves diagnosing the problem and giving prescriptions, but most medical practitioners do not take or have the time to explain the problem and the solution to their patients. Hence, everyone always appreciates the time David takes to explain things to them.

            Another new experience for us involves looking after the dogs (all 3 of them), which includes feeding them, keeping them from nipping at Henri, the tortoise, keeping them from destroying the cage that Jacko, the monkey, lives in, as well as researching “dog pregnancy”. That’s right, we should be inundated with puppies come early November. This whole experience has made us feel like we’re now country folk, except without any experience, and only dogs to look after.


            This past Monday was Tabaski, more commonly known as Eid al-Adha in the rest of the world. This Muslim feast day celebrates God providing a ram to Abraham so that he would not have to sacrifice his own son. The day is marked by a ceremony in the morning, where sheep (and sometimes goats) are slaughtered, and then the rest of the day is filled with preparing the food and sharing it with friends, family, neighbours, and the poor. Our entire day was filled with answering the door, greeting one another, asking for each other’s forgiveness (which is a symbol of how we must ask God for forgiveness), and the giving of delicious food. It was incredible to see the joy of giving and receiving from everyone around us. Tabaski is apparently the largest and most celebrated Senegalese holiday, and the government gives everyone two full days off of work, although most people are gone for the whole week as many travel to visit their extended family. It was only the second time that I have eaten mutton, and it was a decidedly better experience than the first time, which is good since our fridge and freezer were packed full of meat, thanks to our generous neighbours. We found this was an amazing time, teeming with imagery and possible opportunities to share that God did sacrifice his only Son to forgive our sins, and that we no longer need animal sacrifices for forgiveness.