Volunteer: Bethany Arnold
Originally from Crystal Lake, IL, I graduated from American University in DC in 2007 with a degree in International Studies and French Translation. I worked at an awesome NGO and a fabulous indie coffeehouse for a year before joining the Peace Corps and shipping off to Senegal as a health education Volunteer. I spent two amazing years in the village of Ndiomdy, a small Serere village in the Sine Saloum Delta. After COS and a brief summer in the US, I moved to Burgundy, France to teach English for 6 months. After France, I returned to Senegal as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer working with the NGO Plan International on implementing a Life Skills program. This fall I will start grad school at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to continue my health education career which started in the Peace Corps.
Contributions from Bethany Arnold
I taught the kids in my compound (and my chef du village father and everyone else...) how to use their hands to make a pair of eye glasses, the way I did as a child. Hours and DAYS of enjoyment, laughter, and cultural exchange! Then we danced the Macarena...
Ya (Mama) Oumy posing with part of the harvest from the women's group vegetable garden, made possible through a USAID Food Security grant in 2010. That's a lot of tomato sauce and delicious vitamins!
Senegal is 95% Muslim, so the Christians (mostly Catholics) are few and far between. However, in the big cities, there are a few churches and each service is an experience, complete with beautiful music and drumming, dancing, and multi-lingual experiences. These young children were celebrating their First Communions and the church was packed in celebration.
As part of the traditional start to the Rainy Season in my area, Thiura Pethie is an enormous festival involving storytelling, throwing millet and yogurt mixtures, traditional Serere wrestling, and running around sacred baobab trees. A type of fertility ceremony, the youth of the community run around the tree, at least 3 times, in hopes of having good fortune and finding their soul mate over the course of the following year. There is joy and anticipation in the celebration, praying for a bo...
This picture was taken the day before the naming ceremony of my village namesake, James Diouf, named after my father in the US. The women of the village are all gathered under one of the largest village mango trees, taking turns pounding millet for the porridge and big meal the next day. The women are sitting around, making tea, dancing, gossiping, and egging each other on as they pound. The images from this day will forever be imprinted in my memories. Thank you, ladies.
This is my sister Ndeye right before Tabaski during my second year at site (November 2009). Everyone else was just sitting around, braiding hair or shelling peanuts. Ndeye is extra special to me because when her son Ibou was born (her first child), he was extremely malnourished and Ndeye didn't know how to properly breastfeed. I worked with her on it and coached her about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and Ibou started gaining weight! He is now a healthy, active, and precocious...