Saturday, March 12, 2011

It’s not what you know, but who you know

Already in our short time here we have met some great people with some fascinating stories;  I just picked a few to write about for now:
Hanna – she is a 69 year old volunteer who has two PHD’s, served a full 2.5 years as a volunteer in Samoa last year. She started an exotic animal vet clinic in DC, and had 4 foster children and one adopted son.  Her foster daughter was a Bosnian refugee who now works full time in Tennessee. 
Jen – is from New Jersey and is a very talented designer.  Check out her awesome photos so far: Jen’s Photos. She is placed by the beach not too far from us and is going to work with a Non-Government Organization helping with radio, and design stuff. She’s also going to teach us how to use our camera!
Abby – was a Young Life leader in Georgia. She is placed out in the bush in Basse, UpperRiver region where it’s hot and life is hard! She is strong though, so she’ll do great. Example, Abby has been sick since we arrived. In fact, she has poo-ed her pants 4 times since she’s been in the Gambia.  The last time, she was climbing the stairs to use the toilet, tripped, and….well, the 4th time happened.  But, good news, Doctor Mike got her stool sample back today and she has a parasite. This is actually good news because she can take some pills and it will go way quickly! And she’s eating for two – her and her parasite!
Seth – grew up in a small logging town in Washington with 14 siblings. His dad is an ex FLDS, ex secret service agent for Nixon who has pinned Henry Kissinger to the wall, and currently believes WW3 is near. His dad is also convinced that the HBO series ‘Big Love’ is based on his life, and has been approached a number of times for reality TV series.  We are going to be given a signed copy of his dad’s book that is being edited for publishing. 
Mike – is from a small town in Oregon but acts like he’s from Texas so we get along pretty good. Mike shot himself in the leg with a revolver.  And that small town he’s from - just happens to be the same small town that a Mr. Steve Prefontaine is from! Mike has been in Pre’s mom’s house and helped her move boxes down from her attic. He said her attic is littered with Pre’s old awards and articles and such. He also said we could visit.
Ibrama S Bah – this is our current language instructor who is a very gifted teacher. He is a Gambian (a Fula) who knows a whole lot about Reggae music, and actually used to be a Rastafarian. He studied in the UK for about 9 months and told us a story we won’t forget for awhile: While studying in England, he decided to go to France to meet up with a Gambian friend.  He couldn’t get a hold of his friend so he tried to find other people that would house him for the night (all the hotels he could afford were booked already).  He did this by walking up to random people on the street and asking to stay with them, which is probably common in the Gambia where everyone knows everyone, but obviously in our western culture norms – that is not a common thing to do. So he ended up getting a trash can and putting it in a phone booth and sleeping inside the trash can. I think the best part was that the point he was making with this story, however, was NOT the fact that he slept in a trash can inside a phone booth but that it was really really cold that night.