I normally find just “summarizing” my week.. really boring. Maybe that's just me... that being said THIS week was just one of those weeks where I kept thinking “Why isn't every week this awesome?!”
Then again, if every week was this successful then I really wouldn't appreciate it nearly as much. :)
This week: I ate, I danced, I greeted, I rested, I worked.
A few weeks back I received sample seeds from Songhai for my gardening groups to try out and give feedback on. We decided to use these seeds to make an educational plot in each groups field were we can grow new vegetables and test out natural insecticides and what not. That way the women can see how things work before they do them in their own garden plots. (aka if anything fails on the first try it won't really affect their livelihood)
This week I worked with the two farming groups in Blewan and we started planting three different varieties of tomatoes, some radishes, a couple types of carrots, cucumbers and okra. In two weeks I am going to do the same with the groups who work at the next farm over (and by end of April we will be transplanting seedlings and building trellises). There is even discussion of field tripping some of the women farmers over to the other fields so they can see what is and isn't working for each other. After months of doing what felt like nothing – I am really excited to see that some of the preliminary work is starting to pay off. There was even an intern with us who took some pictures!! I am going to have to try and get them.
Of course in Africa its a give or take.. because while all of these great things were happening with the farming groups in Blewan.. things were dieing in my school garden. The tomato and peppers seem to be sprouting well, but we had to re-start a whole seed bed of African greens (it is possible they weren't watered over the weekend – sigh) and we are also having some fungus problems.. (ew.)
The BEST part of my week however fell into the cultural aspect of the work that I do here (and did not contribute quite as much to my constant sunburn).. I went fete-ing with Mama!!
This month is Women Awareness Month. Mama is an important political woman in the Porto Novo area, and she was hosting the “Fete de Femmes” for the women who are in her region of Porto. There were lots of really important people there. She had an awesome dress made for me (in the same fancy tissue that all of the women in the group and all of the special guests were wearing). It started with important people getting up and giving speeches (and me just sitting there looking lost) everything was in local language so I just smiled an clapped when other people clapped. My Mama gave a speech too. They had a doctor come and give a talk on how to self examine for breast cancer, which I thought was interesting because that is something that, in the US, would always be part of a “Jour de Femme”.. but it is not something I have seen talked about a lot here. Some skits were also preformed (that is really popular here).
Once everyone was finished talking it was time to eat and dance! My Mama had prepared a vegetarian dish for me and one of her friends brought out the dish to me shortly before everyone else was given the go ahead to get up and get their food from the buffet tables (they were serving fish). I (of course) felt super awkward that I was the only one eating and that I was being served special food... but I really appreciated it, and when I tried to wait, I was told to start eating while it was still hot. I really am lucky to have such a caring and understanding family here in Porto Novo, I feel like some families in America wouldn't go out of their way like that. We finished with some dancing and then pictures.. at that point I was exhausted but it was great to spend the day with my host family, eat some good food and have a great cultural experience.
Some of the important people in the area overlap with my commune as well and I know I have seen them at multiple events. I really need to start learning who they are.
Lots of Love