For our service placement, we (Mira Yoder and Olivia Krall) have spent the past few weeks in a village called Fandène. Fandène is located just 7 kilometers east of Thiès. One thing that is unique about Fandène is that the population here is almost entirely Catholic. We have already seen how this impacts the community through celebrations such as First Communion and the 125th anniversary of the local Catholic church. Additionally, the community here belongs to the Sereer ethnic group. While people here are fluent in Wolof, the primary language spoken in town is the Noon dialect of Sereer. We have enjoyed getting to learn a little bit of this language!
During our time here we are not working with an organization. Instead, we are embracing living with our host families and learning about daily life in Fandène.
A day in the life with Olivia
Since I’ve arrived in Fandène I’ve settled into a routine with my family. After breakfast in the morning I help with some of the household chores and preparing lunch. Some mornings this means trips to the small, local market. While I normally go to the market with my host mom, this week I went to the market by myself for the first time to bring back 100cfa’s worth of okra for lunch. After the necessary ingredients are acquired and the dishes are washed, we start preparing lunch. I am currently learning how to make Ceebu Jen, the national dish, which is composed of fish, rice, vegetables, and a sauce made from Bisap leaves. My cooking skills have improved here and I’ve learned everything from frying the fish to washing the rice; however, I still haven’t mastered cutting onions here.
After lunch, when it reaches the hottest part of the day, my family and I rest, make tea, and work on homework. In the evenings, I have less of a schedule but spend much of the time with my family, exploring the village, watching soccer, or playing with the family’s dog, Leon.
A day in the life with Mira
I live with my mother, father, and three teenage host sisters. A normal day at my house starts with a breakfast of coffee and fresh bread with an assortment of toppings. After breakfast, I often help my sisters wash the dishes from the night before. Throughout the day, I help out with various chores around the house, like cutting vegetables for lunch and mopping the floor. Most days, several of my younger cousins will arrive at the house midmorning. I’ve enjoyed getting to know them through activities such as drawing, playing games, and chasing the pet dog.
Several times a week, I go with my father to work in the family garden. The garden has several kinds of fruit trees, including mangos, limes, and guavas. There are also crops including sweet potatoes and bissap. A couple weeks ago, I helped plant corn and beans in anticipation of the rainy season. I’m excited to see how the garden changes and grows during my stay here.
Growing up, my mother often reminded me, “you’re a human being, not a human doing”. This is a message that I wrestle with frequently in life, and especially here during SST service. I may not have an assigned job with an organization, but my ‘job’ here is to be present, to explore, and to learn what it means to be part of the Fandène community.