Saturday, December 29, 2012

Packing lists!

I know that when I was waiting to leave for our staging, I was obsessed with our packing list. I wanted us to be prepared, but not too prepared. I wanted to travel light, but to have essential items available... So, here are my thoughts (after nearly 10 months) on what is appropriate to bring to West Africa when you plan to stay for 27 months:

First, and most importantly, Peace Corps training involves a lot of moving around. The smartest thing to do is bring 2 bags - one larger, hard-sided, lockable suitcase with wheels and one smaller bag (we had duffel bags - some people prefer mid-size backpacks). This way you can shut all the stuff you don't really need up in the suitcase, which will be relatively secure (and rodent proof), and carry your essentials in a smaller, lighter bag.

Secondly, you can get most stuff here. The quality might be questionable in some cases or the price might hurt your budget a little, but there's no need to bring a 2 year supply of anything unless you're very picky.

So, in hindsight, I would bring only enough shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, soap, etc. to get through the first few months. I would bring a small amount of American dollars (even $20 would be fine) to supplement your training allowance, because it is nearly impossible to afford the absolute essentials on what they give you, let alone anything extra. Once you are a volunteer, no problem.
Here are the things I am really glad I brought:
Diva cup.
Decent dental floss.
A flash drive.
Converter for outlets.
2 nice quality cotton double or queen size sheets and a pillowcase.
Nalgene bottle (or 2).
1 or 2 sharp knives (the Victronix paring knives are great).
prints of photos from U.S. to show host family.
tote bag
bathing suit.
a sweatshirt.
long PJ pants and also short ones.
nail polish in cool colors. (you can buy remover in Kombo)
headlamp and a collection of decent quality batteries to go in it.
enough long skirts, t-shirts and nice-ish clothes to get through training.
smallish travel pillow.
a few pairs of capri length tights for wearing under skirts/dresses.
plastic accordian file to organize ridiculous amounts of paperwork in.

Wish I brought:
laptop. (Mine wasn't working so well when we left and I didn't want to worry about it, but most volunteers have them and use them a lot!).
small things to give as a gifts during training (people had birthdays and no one had money or the means to buy them gifts) - some U.S. candy would be good for this.
more bras and underwear (especially quick-dry material).
a few more t-shirts and nice-ish clothes. This is tricky though, because I lost a lot of weight and ended up giving away many items I brought which no longer fit.
more decent pens.
set of different colored Sharpie markers.
more AfterBite.
mascara and lipstick.

Glad I didn't bring:
giant amounts of food/snacks (though a few bags of a favorite candy or tea are nice to have).
fancy gadgets, including solar charger (they're pretty easy to buy off volunteers who are on their way out and, in my personal experience, a lot of them just don't work that well)
cell phone (Peace Corps gave us ours and they are fine)

Would just as soon have not brought:
umbrella (lost it- and they're easy to buy here)
towels (smell really bad during rainy season - a wrap skirt works much better)
too may pairs of shoes
a watch and travel alarm clock (my cell phone is good enough)
flashlight (cell phone and headlamp are good enough)

-Colette (Darrin can weigh in on this one in a seperate post)

What We Brought.

Friday, December 28, 2012

How is the work?

We know that everyone is eager to know what we are doing with ourselves (other than reading, cooking and sleeping), so here are a few things we've been up to recently. Incidentally, the two of us generally work separately, but we have had some great opportunities to team up on special projects and events lately. Here are a few:

Bwiam's Youth Action Movement group had a short parade and a program to observe World AIDS Day in early December. Our sister Mamie is holding the banner in this picture (on the left). We attempted to give some inspirational speaches about how youth have the power  to stop the spread of HIV.

Darrin has been assisting an elementary school in another village with their tree nursery. We recently went and helped them plant a few hundred seeds in beds and polypots the students had helped prepare.

We did a family planning talk in a nearby village. Here Hyatou and I show off a poster I made that compares birth spacing to crop spacing. Darrin and Yaya were talking to the men, while Hyatou and I talked to the women. I've used this same poster to do health talks at reproductive and child health clinic. The main point is that families and farms grow better and are healthier with proper planning. On the left you can see "Fatou's family" and on the right "Binta's family" (or, as one woman called it, "the seven kids in seven years family").
Our friend Kaddy (American name: Kathy) undertook the task of painting many health-themed murals at a large regional health center near her site. Darrin and I spent one weekend helping with the project and we worked on this mural, which shows the importance of infant vaccination.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Day in the Life

Maamaa's Day
  • Get up at about 7, although the rooster has been crowing at an annoyingly close range for at least 3 hours and call-to-prayer has occurred at around 5:45.
  • Brush teeth, wash face and comb hair outside in the bathroom area.
  • Go out of the house and greet family, then water plants (okra, watermelon, squash and basil) - this requires several trips to the tap with a bucket.
  • Bring some water inside to boil so I can have tea. Make oatmeal, to which I add sugar (or honey if we have it), raisins (if we picked some up in the big city) and peanut butter. Read for awhile and enjoy my tea.
  • At 8:45 get dressed, say goodbye to Darrin and walk over to the hospital where I help out at the reproductive and child health clinic. 
    • On Mondays it is in Bwiam - a few other days a week everyone piles in the ambulance (actually a Landrover) and travels to an outlying village's health center to weigh babies, dispense medications, give immunizations and do prenatal exams. 
    • I have been trying to help the staff to do short health talks at each clinic - right now we have been doing a family planning one. I made a poster comparing birth spacing in families to crop spacing on farms and talk about how plants and families grow better and healthier when they are planned/"well-spaced." This can get complicated because we usually translate the talk into 2 or 3 langauges - English, Mandinka, Wolof and sometimes Jola or Fula. I'm not ready to do the Mandinka talk yet - maybe I never will be, because people might miss something due to my accent. I instead greet the women and introduce myself in Mandinka and then switch to English, which involves speaking very slowly and clearly, because many people here who speak English can't understand it when you speak fast or use too large a vocabulary.
  • If it is not too late when I get done with clinic, I will try to buy some vegetables or other things at the market. It's tricky because the market is usually over by 1 in the afternoon. 
    • I have one friend, Sirrah, who sells at the market and is always very nice. I try to buy from her, although she doesn't have much for sale. Sometimes there is nothing for sale but onions and okra...but once in awhile there are cucumbers or green peppers. 
    • I buy a lot of groundnut paste (it's like unsalted natural peanut butter, in a small plastic bag), garlic and pepper corns, which we pound. Sometimes I buy a smoked fish for the cat. I have learned the hard way not to put a fish in my tote bag (even if it's wrapped in newspaper!)...too smelly!
  • After the market I go home and take a bucket bath and change my clothes because I am inevitably very hot and sweaty. I may rest for a bit in the house or do some laundry.
  • Around 3pm I head over to our family's other compound for lunch. Darrin usually meets me there when he is done with work and we eat - I am always hoping for durango, which is a peanut-based sauce over rice. I dislike supa konja, which is a slimy okra, greens and fish goo over rice. We sit with whichever family members are there (often some of the women or girls are busy braiding hair under a tree) and maybe play with some of the kids.
  • Around 4:30 or 5 we usually make our way home.  On the way home we might stop at the biddik (corner shop) for bread, flour, eggs or a cold drink. We also sometimes stop to chat with a friend or two, though I try to avoid being offered attaya (the strong sugary tea drink people love to sit and brew and serve in little shot glasses) at this time of day because it is so caffienated it will make sleep difficult later.
  • Once we get home we relax, take a quick bucket bath to cool off, then read or work on things around the house or yard. I like to prep something for dinner before the sun goes down, because without electricity we must rely on headlamp and candles at night, which are fine for reading, etc., but sometimes it is hard to prepare a meal that way. Recently I helped with peanut harvesting, so here I am shelling peanuts and preparing to roast them with our sister Awa.

Awa and Mama shelling groundnuts ("tio" in Mandinka).
  • Some days, if our site-mate (other Peace Corps volunteer in our area), Dylan, is in town, we bike over to his side of town and walk down to the river to watch the sunset on the dock. If we aren't in a hurry to go home, we have supper at his family's compound.
Another beautiful sunset at the Bwiam/Kankuntu dock. Yeah, we live here.

Kawsu's Day
  • Get up at the same time as Maamaa, but then stay in bed and snooze until 8:30 because the rooster has kept me from getting a proper rest all morning. He usually stands directly in front of our screen door and crows (4 a.m.). Some days I want to eat him for lunch, but we can't because he is good luck for our compound (meaning he was purchased solely for that reason).
  • Officially get up at 8:30, wash my face and put our small solar panel out in the sun to charge - takes about 3 days of full sun for a full charge (good to have in case we need emergency cell phone charge on weekends). 
  • Head to the "kitchen area" and make some tea with powdered milk and sugar. Prepare a small cup of meuslix mixed with oatmeal (to stretch the meuslix because it's expensive) and reconstituted powdered milk. Usually during breakfast I just sit in a plastic lawn chair, think about our life here and sip my tea.
Our kitchen area was created with the help of our local carpenter Sheik Nyang
  • Feed the cat a small amount of cat food or dried fish. She has been eating lizards lately so we don't feed her much. Hopefully our cat will never catch this gecko which stays in our home and munches on beetles and mosquitoes. We are very fond of it.
Resident gecko in our front room. We named it Tom Thumb.
  • Greet the family outside with any of the following phrases: "I saama" (good morning), "Somandaa be naadi?" (how is the morning?) or "Kori I sinoota" (I hope you slept).
  • Wash dishes in a little bucket by our door and set them to dry on a board in the sun. Then I usually sweep the front room and bedroom because over night much sand and dust has accumulated on the floor. 
    • At this point I may do some laundry in a bucket depending on the clothes situation, whether Colette has done them already or whether or not our sisters are doing laundry for the whole family. If this happens there's usually no space for our clothes on the line, so we just wait.
  • 10 a.m. get dressed for work, spray my limbs with insect repellent (many mosquitoes at work), take my bicycle outside, lock our door, and tell any present family member the following:  "Nka ta dokouwo (I am going to work), fo tilibulo (until the afternoon)."
  • Ride my bicycle about 2 kilometers to St. Joseph's Family Farms Centre and greet everyone in the organization.
    • Proceed to the office and work on any of the following: editing grant proposals, preparing reports for World Food Programme, or reading about appropriate technology/projects for the community.  Lately we've been organizing old files, so I read about many previous community projects.
    • 2:30-4pm wrap up my work, say "Fo saama" (until tomorrow) to my co-workers and bike to our families large compound. On this bike ride I usually meet many children walking back home from school so it's inevitable that a couple will shout "Toubab(white man)! Any minties (candy)?" To which I usually stop my bicycle suddenly, dismount and try to locate said children and introduce myself, or maybe run after them to get some laughs. 
  • Reach family compound and greet family with "Tilibulo be naadi?" ("How is the afternoon?") and proceed to find the most shade in the compound to eat under.
  • 4:30-5pm head home and buy any necessary food items to prepare our evening meal.
  • Take bucket bath immediately, bring in solar panel, check on all plants, pet cat and ask her about her day (or look for dead lizard presents around the compound).
    Takaa our cat relaxing (fonyonding) on our window sill.
  • Rest a bit, prep some food and either read or do a crossword puzzle, or give a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer a haircut:
Dylan (our site mate) at "Kawsu's Barbing Saloon" prior to one of the last storms of the rainy season in Bwiam.
  • 10pm take a small bucket bath again to cool off before bedtime, get into bed, tuck in mosquito net, turn off headlamp and sweat ourselves to sleep until the cool harmattan winds from the desert come during the cold season.

The first harvest of ginger I planted 4 months ago.

Yusupha our youngest sibling starting to walk.

This ginger will be ready to harvest in 5 months.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Work

     We haven't posted much about our work activities, mostly because they are not that exciting or varied so far! However, here are a few photos of a short workshop my host sister, Mamie, and I did during a camp for youth leaders that was held at the senior secondary scool in Bwiam. The kids were camping out in some school rooms without mosquito nets and they asked us to help them make homemade mosquito repellent to use during the evenings.
      Neem cream is a product the Peace Corps loves to's cheap to make, people say it's effective and it can be a good product for people to make and sell for a profit. It uses the leaves of the neem tree (which can usually be found somewhere around any village), soap and oil. The soap must be grated or shredded with a knife (Mamie made homemade graters by poking holes in old sardine tins - pretty neat!) and then mixed with water that you've boiled neem leaves in, then oil.  After a lot of vigorous mixing, it's ready to go!
     This group was particularly fun to work with because they were so enthusiastic. I asked them to review some facts on malaria and malaria prevention while they were working and lots of shouting and arguing ensued...but I think everyone had fun.  
                                                                                                           -Colette (Maamaa)

Girls gathering neem leaves.

Shaving soap with our homemade graters.


Everyone is excited that it's almost ready!

We ran out of containers to put it in, so this young man is holding a plastic shopping bag full of neem cream. Good thinking!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Snapshots II

Our friend Abdul, and our brother Saikou. Saikou was awarded the position of Deputy Headboy at his school!

The young women in our families other compound. From left to right: Tida, Mamie, Oussman, Awa, Senabu, Fatoumata, and Binta (who's obviously a joker).

Enter: The MOST annoying rooster in the world & our families cassava field.

Yeah, our back yard is nice to look at!

Foreground: the banana "sucker" that I planted. Background: a large ridge of soil containing ginger root.

Nap time!

The road to our home.

Our brothers graduation from 10th grade.

Our brother and his friends, he's the one peeking, third from the right.

Our brother Sam

This lizard fell into our water bucket.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A few snapshots

Fa Suso with a huge (smelly) dried barracuda head. We actually avoided eating this because it was served for dinner and we usually cook our own dinner.

Sunset by the river. Darrin took this picture and then sarcastically said, "This is terrible, I can't believe we have to put up with this crap."

Some of our young friends. Fatoumata Suso is the little one in the red, white and blue shirt. I love her very much because she has the most hilarious facial expressions possible. Awa is the very serious girl in pink beside her...she lives in our compound and while I have been known to tell her stop standing in front of our screen door and staring in at me when I am doing boring things like reading and drinking tea, I really enjoy having her as a little sister.

Also, here is a short list of things Colette misses from the U.S. that she NEVER thought she would miss:
-shopping malls
- contemporary (Christian) praise music
-mid-priced Mexican chain restaurants
-being a white person amongst a large crowd of other white people (I mean, not always sticking out as glaringly different everywhere I go, even in the dark)

Things Colette does not miss at all, but thought that she would:
-indoor plumbing
-washing machines
-owning a car
-warm showers

A thing Darrin misses that he NEVER thought he would miss:
-people saying "God bless you" after you sneeze

Until next time...

Mama and Kawsu (Colette and Darrin)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Last week I was talking to my friend and work counterpart, Lamin. He visited the U.S. a year or two ago and he was telling me that he had been really impressed by the big, fancy shopping mall he saw while there. I said I sometimes missed them, but that someone had once pointed out to me that when a culture builds shopping malls that are nicer and larger than most of their mosques or churches, it was a sign that they worshipped money and material things above all else. "So, that's why I have mixed feelings about shopping malls when I'm in the U.S.," I concluded. Lamin said, "Hmmm, true...but they are nice anyway!" I had to agree. Especially when compared to the market in Serekunda.

Yesterday my host sister Mamie and I set out from Bwiam for a day of shopping in Serekunda, visiting family and, for me, going to the bank and grocery store in Fajara. It only took us about 2 hours to get to Serekunda's market area, which was rapidly becoming hot and crowded. My mission was to buy a certain type of fancy fabric that is needed for various post-Ramadan celebration outfits. I needed some for myself and Kawsu and I wanted Mamie to help me pick some out. I had about D850 with me, which is normal Gambian life is a pretty large amount of money. So, we went to one shop and they wanted D700 for the fabric we needed. They would not come down, so we left. I was beginning to realize that the two of us shopping together was NOT such a brilliant idea, because rather than Mamie being able to help me bargain, sales people were more apt to assume I was clueless because it looked like I'd brought her there because I couldn't handle bargaining on my own...and it goes without saying they usually assume any toubob has tons of money with them and should spend three times what something is really worth.

We continued walking down the narrow street and a guy in one shop began to call us over. I was practicing my well-honed ignoring skills, but Mamie actually walked over to him. He asked what we were looking for and she told him. Then he got out his phone and called someone, then tried to lure us into his shop, telling me I should sit down with them. I stood on the sidewalk and politely half-ignored him while Mamie talked on my phone with her boyfriend back in Bwiam for a few minutes. Then a woman walked by with some fabric she was selling and we bought what I needed from her for D600, which was maybe not the best price, but doable. Then out of nowhere another woman shows up, telling us that the shopkeeper had called her and that we had to buy something from her because she came all the way over there. She showed us the contents of a large plastic bag, which contained some strange lotions, a kind of fabric that was NOT what we were looking for and one tiny pair of women's shoes. Then the shopkeeper said I should at least pay her for cab fare and I said, "You want me to give you 7 Dalasi?" and laughed at them. Then he said I should pay him for the phone credit he used to call her. I told him I had never asked him to call her and she wasn't even selling what we said we needed...Then he proceeded to tell me that if I came to Africa from America I should bring dollars and that I was stupid to go shopping without enough money.

I should have mentioned that I was fasting, which makes me very crabby. So I somewhat lost my cool and told him (in short) that I don't live or work in America right now so I have Dalasi NOT Dollars, that he was stupid to think all Americans are rich, that I had the money to buy what I needed only and that I was going. I spent the next few hours pretending be deaf and somewhat blind as people grabbed me, demanded things from me and tried to give me (and Mamie) really bad prices for anything and everything. I actually think going to that market alone or with Kawsu is BETTER. Now I know...

In contrast, life in Bwiam is nicer! Here is some evidence:

Rain coming in - a view from behind out compound

Sunset at the tributary that's about a 15-minute bike ride away

Sunday, July 29, 2012


I had the opportunity to weigh myself the other day and realized I had lost 20 pounds since coming here! And it's not because I am starving myself or because I've been sick (I haven't been sick at all except for one time during training - and, for the record, I eat and drink pretty much anything that's offered to me). I think it's the general lack of appealing snack foods and alcoholic beverages, more than anything else. I think this is a good thing!

A lot of people warned me before we left the U.S. that women tend to gain weight in places like West Africa because they eat so many carbs here. I have been thinking that those people are the type who ate nothing but salad in the U.S. Because I probably ate far more carbs in the form of drinks, tortilla chips, dessert foods and other things than I do now - and I eat plenty of rice here, I can assure you!

We have discovered some good things to make with our available food resources here. This is a recipe I made up:

Stuffed Peppers - Peace Corps Gambia

Green peppers (if they make a miraculous appearance at the market or you grow them)
Broken rice (from the bittik)
Beans or lentils
Adja (the red one)
Hot pepper
Shelf-stable cheesefood wedges (have to go to Kombo for these)

Cook rice and beans, mix with sauteed onions and Adja and some hot pepper
half and clean out peppers, stuff with rice mixture
put them in a frying pan with some water in the bottom, put a lid on it and cook until they are wrinkly on the outside and the filling is hot
put cheese wedges on top!


Friday, July 27, 2012


     This past week has been our first experience with Ramadan. Kawsu has committed to fasting on Fridays and I tried to fast most days this past week, but cheated a few times. I am noticing a whole different rhythym of life here when people are going without food and water for all 14 daylight hours. About mid-afternoon (or early afternoon, for me!) most people become very tired, rather quiet and, in my case, rather irritable. It's impressive that many continue to do farmwork and other hard labor all day long - especially when the sun is hot!
     When the time comes to break fast (about 7:30 PM) it is very exciting. Not just because you are extremely hungry and thirsty, but also because the foods our family has been making for this small meal are delicious! Instead of the usual rice and fish based fare, we've had things like chicken (hard to find around here unless you slaughter your own), potatoes (also rare to get at the market), pasta and shrimp.
     On a reflective note, I think it's a very good thing that we're having the experience of living in a country that's over 90% Muslim. The Muslim faith is misunderstood by so many people in the U.S. and it will be a valuable thing to address when we're sharing our stories with people stateside. When I have told people here that a small proportion of people in the U.S. are actually very prejudiced about and afraid of Muslims, they were shocked. And I had a very hard time explaining that although Americans are generally well-educated and nice people, some of them are closed minded.
Some photos from the past few weeks:

We spotted this taxi while stopped at a police checkpoint near Bwiam - overloaded vehicles are the norm here, but this one goes above and beyond!

Ceesay Mamie (our hen) trying to steal Takaa's food.

WFP food distribution

Dung beetles are HUGE!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The work is here only

So, this week Kawsu (Darrin) and I spent 5 days helping distribute rice and oil rations to farmers in 3 different districts which experienced crop failures and have been deemed food insecure. The World Food Program basically hired local NGOs to staff these distributions, which is great, but the learning curve is a little steep. How hard can it be? I initially thought, not realizing that managing all the data by hand (no electricity or computers in the field) would be insanely time consuming! Not to mention managing large crowds of people, many of whom have the same name (one small village had at least 6 guys with the exact same name - good thing we had ID numbers to compare and the village's alkalo to help sort them out (the alkalo is like the mayor - but here they usually know everyone). Not to mention the rations involved measuring fractions of kilograms of oil (which begs the question: who on earth would choose to measure oil in kilograms?). Both Kawsu and I were applauded for our superior math skills in being able to portion food and also to calculate stock losses at the end of the day. I don't think we have awesome skills though - it's just that we were working with many people who quite possibly hadn't done math since 6th grade or so. Or maybe they were never taught fractions? At any rate, after several 10 to 12 hour days, we were exhausted and glad to be done. The fun will start all over again next month, when more rations are distributed, but our teams will be more seasoned and ready to jump right in, so maybe it will feel less exhausting!

link to WFP's Gambia page, if anyone is curious:

Incidentally, one day when Kawsu's food distribution team was travelling to their distribution site in the back of a pick-up truck, the truck ran over a guinea fowl that had wandered into the road. They stopped and picked it up, then gave it to the alkalo's wife when they got to the village and then she cooked it for their lunch! Kawsu was particularly excited, because he is sick of fish, which is what's for lunch 99.9% of the time...

obligatory cute kitten picture

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Beach Corps

We have been in Kombo (the more urban area on the coast of the Gambia) for a few days to attend a conference with many of the other volunteers. This trip has had its ups and downs - the Peace Corps transit house was too full and we didn't get offered any alternative place to stay, so we ended up sharing a hotel room with some friends for a few nights. It might not have been the most financially frugal plan, but the place we stayed was right on the beach and pretty reasonable, so it was fun. Swimming in the ocean here is great. The water is so much warmer than Massachusetts!

We are heading back to Bwiam today and can't wait to see our family and our cat.

Me and Mamie at Bwiam's community radio anniversary celebration

Darrin and I at the same event. People here love ausobi (matching fabric for special occasions).

Darrin demonstrating the best way to carry heavy things
Takaa and Darrin hanging out on the porch

Monday, June 11, 2012


 Mamie (one of our sisters who lives at the other compound)  and Yusupha
Yusupha (9 months) and his mom Bintou  -  we live with them!

Yusupha cooling off
Takaa, our vicious"africanized" kitten

Monday, June 4, 2012

I just realized that we have been here in West Africa for 3 months now. In many ways it seems like longer!

Our house has been in upheaval this week because our floor was finally finished (with the help of a local mason and some cement from the Peace Corps). This meant we had to take everything out of the house and are now in the process of putting it back in. And then, in the midst of this project, we found ourselves to be the proud new adoptive parents of...a small kitten!

 We were walking home from our family's other compound one evening with our sister Mamie and we all stopped to greet some neighbors.  They were sitting by the street outside their compound with a pretty adult cat (unusual in itself - a lot of people here really dislike cats) and Darrin suddenly asked them (in Mandinka) where the kittens were. I don't know why he asked, but it was meant to be, because they said (in Mandinka) that they were in the house. An old, shirtless man got up from his mat and took us to the door of a small cement building, then told us we should take the three small kittens inside. We explained that we could only take one, so we chose a medium-sized female with grey tiger stripes and a small orange blaze in her head. She has been living in our bathroom when we are not around to supervise her, but has adjusted to using a litter box (really a bidong we cut in half and filled with sand from the road) and has been surviving on powdered milk and some fish from the market (cat food is not something they sell in most stores here, since feeding people is, understandably, the greater priority). We are still trying to come up with a good name for her though...

I will post a picture was soon as I get the chance!

-Maamaa (Colette)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Our new home

Our compound Suso Kunda II - it's very new and pretty nice! Our door is the one on the left.

Kawsu cooking on our gas burner. This is the most expensive thing we own here, except our bikes, which really belong to the Peace Corps, not us, so they don't count. Our family was upset one day because I accidentally left it outside and they said someone would jump over the wall to steal it! Oops.

Maamaa carrying water from the sweet tap inside the compound.

View you can see if you climb up on something and look over our back wall. This picture was taken last night, about 20 minutes before a tremendous (and unexpected) rain storm.