The days are getting hotter here in Senegal so you will note that everyone has a nice sheen in the pics! With the skies clouding up everyone is anticipating the rains that will be MOST welcome after 9-months of dry season, and will also bring with them a flurry of agricultural activity as people rush to plant their crops. We all hope the students get to see the greening of Senegal.
Thursday and Friday of this week we visited two more service sites to see our students. Danny and José are at the Mental Health Hospital Dalal Xel run by the Catholic order, Frères Hospitaliers de Saint Jean de Dieu au Sénégal. They work full days helping to take vitals for intake, sitting in on consultations and participating in group therapy sessions. Their afternoons are often spent in the open-air in-patient center interacting with the patients. They told us they were learning so much and that the doctors, nurses and therapists have been wonderful in teaching them about mental health care. They eat lunch either with the staff at the hospital or with three brothers from Senegal, Mozambique and Madagascar learning about the monastic life. The atmosphere at the hospital is one of calm compassion in spite of the very difficult cases they face. Mentally ill patients are kept at home and integrated into society as much as possible in Senegal and the hospital tries to send them home after one month and the establishment of medications. José and Danny have a long walk home in the late afternoon and take that opportunity to explore the city, eat ice cream (!), and make new friends. They have welcoming and busy families. José is pictured with the many many children in his multiple family compound who look forward to playing with him when he comes home! Danny’s family (Catholic) lives a few doors down from José’s family (Muslim) and are longterm best friends, now mutually caring for the boys. Both at the hospital and at their homes we heard people sing the praises of these boys who are hard working, respectful, fun to have around for conversation and now part of the families.
The next day we traveled east again on another road to the rural village of Ndem that we had visited on a field trip during study with all the students. Ellen and Nate are there working in the artisan workshops and the organic garden project respectively. You can see Ellen in the photos surrounded by beautifully dyed fabric and leather. She has already make her own designs for some of the products that she is holding up – screen printed fabric, bags and leather earrings. She also spends her time sorting orders for count and quality control, reorganizing the retail shop and generally hanging out with people in the various workshops. Nate works in the gardens, spending the early mornings and late afternoons watering in this dry, sandy environment. Last week they had a large workshop at the gardens attended by local NGOs working on similar issues. Nate is learning about the challenges of adapting farming practices to increasing dryness due to climate change. When the rains arrive everyone will be fully occupied with trying to get a crop in with a hope of maturing in the ever shortened rainy season. In the meantime Nate demonstrates the various poses of rest at the gardens! The gardens are full of bird life and a menagerie of animals for teaching school children about the natural world – including ostriches and a peacock. Nate and Ellen live in very basic guest rooms in the “dara” but relate to families where they go for meals. They enjoy “star gazing” in the evenings with new friends to philosophically contemplate the universe. The students are very content living in a community in which work and home are integrated. They are also doing a fantastic job of learning Wolof. And once again we were told over and over again that Goshen students are “polite” and stand out from other interns who come there. Ellen and Nate have become part of this community in a very short time and are thoroughly appreciated.
A note about pictures: almost all of the pictures from Ndem were taken by Marcia Good, our friend and colleague who has been visiting us these last couple of weeks.