Monday, September 14, 2009

Mayagba – September 11

**Pictures to follow soon!**

Today was my first full day in Mayagba. After getting up, Heidi and I sat on the porch and greeted people as they walked by. I have learned a very few things to say in Krio (a pidgin English) and Temne (one of the major local languages here), but am still struggling. Looking forward to doing some Krio and Temne language training in about 10 days from now.

Around noon we had a community meeting, organized by Mr. Mark Fornah, the cdpeace Literacy Coordinator. This meeting was to introduce me to the community and vice versa. It was really wonderful. Not too long and with the opportunity to meet and talk a little bit with people. I doubt I will remember very many names though. The meeting ended with prayers and blessings for myself and Heidi and singing.

One interesting thing about Sierra Leone is that there seems to be no religious strife at all here. Perhaps that is a generalisation, but thus far it seems that Christians and Muslims coexist with no problems. There is a mosque and a church in Mayagba, and there were both prayers from the Imam and Christian prayers at the meeting today.

This afternoon, after a visit to Makeni to use the internet briefly (too briefly to type out these posts and post them on the blog!), I returned to Mayagba. I spent a few hours sitting on the porch and was soon surrounded by the small children of the village (pictures to come). The kids here are very curious about white people – they shout “opporto, opporto” (white person in Temne) anytime they see one. They all wanted to hear me talk and touch my skin and hair as well. While white people are perhaps more common in the bigger centres (still not a frequent occurrence though), they are rare in the villages. Many people, both adults and children, are curious about what I’m doing here and want to say hello. I took a few snaps of the kids (pictures coming) – they LOVE getting their picture taken and seem to find it hilarious.

One of the older kids (his name was Fred and he spoke a bit of English) brought out a deck of cards. We played cards for about an hour or so, first a game taught to me by Fred where you add cards together and collect pairs, and then I tried to teach them to play slap. I’m not sure he fully understood the game, but we had fun anyways! All the while we were playing, there were 7 or 8 other children crowded around me. I tried teaching them my name, but it turns out that Clare is a bit hard to say. I’m sure they’ll learn over time though.

Oh, also today I rode on a motorbike taxi for the first time (1,000 LE from anywhere to anywhere in Makeni) and took my first solo taxi ride from Makeni to Mayagba!

A final word about taxis in general. I am writing this post a few days in, so I have now had the opportunity to be in several “taxis”. The term taxi here is used to refer to an car that picks up passengers. The cars are not in the best shape unfortunately, but they generally get you where you need to go. Many do not have working gas or speed gauges, and often doors and windows don’t work properly. During my taxi ride from Makeni to Mayagba, when it started to rain the driver had to pull over and open each door in order to roll up the windows by manually connecting the wires. Taxis are also maximally crowded – 7 to a car is the norm. I’m learning that transportation here can definitely be an adventure!

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