Anna and Gabe have been working with an organization called Centre de Formation Yoonu Njub (The Way of Righteous Training Center). The training center includes a trade school for girls who dropped out of school, a clinic, and some additional services for young boys run out of a different location. While not always sure how best to do service in this location, Anna and Gabe have been involved in cooking classes, teaching English, and doing some work in the pharmacy. In this post, they describe their daily routines.
On a normal day I wake up at 6:30, get ready, and eat breakfast in the living room. I
occasionally see a few of my family members around 7:00, but for the most part we eat
breakfast on our own. There is usually bread with butter or chocolate spread, coffee with sugar
and powdered milk, and occasionally eggs. After breakfast, two girls in my neighborhood who
attend the school I work at, come to meet me at 7:15. They hail a taxi for the three of us and
we are driven to Yoonu nJub, a Christian school for girls.
My day usually starts with the ringing of my first alarm at 6:30 AM. I’ll debate on getting
up or waiting for the following 10 alarms I have set up to ring before 7:00 PM. Once I roll out of
bed, I’ll contemplate life and ask myself what I’m doing in Senegal. This usually lasts around five
minutes. After trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’ve been living in Senegal for the
last two months, I scurry off to get ready before leaving for work at the school. The first couple
of days I would eat breakfast, but then I told my host mom one day that I don’t really eat
breakfast because it makes me feel sick sometimes, so now I just begin my journey to the
school once I’m all dolled up for the day, which isn’t much.
Anna and Gabe
The school day starts at 8:00 with prayer and devotions. The girls sit in rows on small
wooden benches and listen to one of the teachers speak and pray. After that is finished the girls
go to their respective classes to learn math, English, sewing, cooking, embroidering, etc. They
get a 30-minute break for breakfast where they usually have bread with some sort of filling.
After the break they go back to classes until 2:00. We mostly sit and have conversations with
the teachers or watch the students have class. Sometimes we are given “supervision” jobs of
watching the students take exams, but for the most part, since they are wrapping up their
school year and we can’t speak the language very well, they don’t have much for us to do. We
have realized that our service experience may be different than others and will challenge our
expectations. Creating relationships with the people here can be our service and it is still
meaningful even if we aren’t doing physical labor or accomplishing tangible goals.
After the school day, I taxi back with the two girls in my neighborhood and return home. My
family eats the largest meal of the day around 2:30 or 3. We have a different dish every day
that usually includes rice, meat, and vegetables. We sit in a circle on the floor of the living
room, and all eat from the same dish. After lunch my family members sit around the living room or do their chores. My dad or brother will make ataya tea for the adults and older children. At
this time, I do homework, art, read, take a nap, etc. Around 8:00 sometimes my mom and
sisters will go on a walk to a nearby store or just to get some fresh air and I like to go with
them. Dinner preparations start around 9:30 or 10 and we eat around 10:30 or 11. After dinner
sometimes we have fruit or juice. Then finally it is time for bed.
After finishing up the workday, I’ll begin my fifteen-minute walking commute back to my
house, where my family is usually waiting for me to eat. Once we all eat together, we’ll
split up and just do our own thing for a good chunk of the day since we’re all
independent. That is until 4 PM, when all the musicians from around the area come to
practice in the music studio next to my room that my host dad runs. I get a whole
concert everyday between 4 PM and 8 PM. During that time, we all listen to the music
and try to have conversations over the blaring music. Once all the musicians are content
with their rehearsals, the house becomes relatively quiet until dinner where we all
convene out on the patio and eat around a big plate. Laughter usually fills the air as we
eat and discuss our days and its moments. We tend to finish up dinner around 11:30
PM, so by then I’m tired and retire to my room where I’ll get ready for bed by taking
either Benadryl or Melatonin so I can sleep through the heat of Senegal.