Peace Corps

 

(In front of Peace Corps painted village sign)

Date: Sat, 5 Oct 2002

Dear all, It has been a busy two weeks. I am happy to say that I am starting to feel much more comfortable with everything in Mali, even back here in Bamako and at Tubaniso. Dare I say that there are moments of complete and utter joy that I feel being here--usually walking down the road by myself in the morning, listening to my headphones and watching the sun rise, saying a phrase and having someone understand me (a simple pleasure, I know), and coming home in the evening to my little "brothers and sisters" who squeal with joy when they see Oumou and my roommate, Mamina, walking toward the compound.

Date: Sat, 5 Oct 2002

It has been a busy two weeks. I am happy to say that I am starting to feel much more comfortable with everything in Mali, even back here in Bamako and at Tubaniso. Dare I say that there are moments of complete and utter joy that I feel being here--usually walking down the road by myself in the morning, listening to my headphones and watching the sun rise, saying a phrase and having someone understand me (a simple pleasure, I know), and coming home in the evening to my little "brothers and sisters" who squeal with joy when they see Oumou and my roommate, Mamina, walking toward the compound.

Even though I am completely excited about moving to Diokeli, I will miss some of my current family members, especially Sumana "Zoo," a little 3 year old with a round face who is completely adorable.

Last week we had "Homologue Days" at Tubaniso, where all of the trainees' host country national counterparts came to spend Thursday and Friday with us. We discussed what Peace Corps is, what roles we will both play, expectations, etc., and were also given the opportunity to discuss upcoming projects or goals.

You may remember that I met my homologue back in Diokeli (very briefly), and was a bit nervous about spending these two days with him. He speaks only Malinke and French. However, I think that we did pretty well...I actually talked to him on my own for about 1 1/2 hours (in French) about what I wanted for my house (grillage pour les portes, clotures pour le jardin) and some of the water projects. He is a pump repairman, so we mostly talked about "pompes" and replacing old "coupelles." He diligently took notes during the sessions, so I was impressed by that...even though he lives in different village from me (Sollo, 5 k away), I think it'll be okay. He is very “broussy,” but has a good attitude and seems to be a kind person.

To give you a taste of some Malinke, here is a VERY typical conversation that you may have with anyone on the street:

Person: Oumou!

Oumou: Namu.

Person: I sakhuma.

Oumou: Ansi, I sakuma.

Person: I ka kende?

Oumou: Tanna si ta.

Person: Somogowlu ka kende?

Oumou: Tanna si tu la.

Person: I takhata min?

Oumou: N takhata sakha la.

Person: K'an bu fo.

Oumou: U n'amen. K'an ben siri.

Basically, we are saying good morning to each other. The person asked how I and my family are doing, and also where I just came from. Then they said, greet your family when you return. I responded,"they will hear it. See you later/tomorrow morning." This whole conversation could take about 10 seconds. The people in my village LOVE to shout out my last name as at all times, "Soukho!" and I have to respond "Ansi," affirming my name. When you say a male's last name, his response is, "M ba." People say this all the time, about as common as some people use the term "uh," "um" or "like" in a sentence. Other very common Malinké phrases: "I ni khe" which you can use to say hello, goodbye, thank you (though there is no direct translation of "thank you" in either Malinké or Bambara...I guess it's just expected that people do what you ask).  (Walking in the road)

Some personal favorites that I will probably continue to say even when I leave Mali: "A kha nin" which means "great" and you can use it to describe anything, from food to an action--really anything. You say it with emphasis which sounds like "a KINE, kosobe kosobe" (for "really" good). And if something is bad, you say, "a MINE." You also say “a kha nin” if someone offers you something and you don't want it, e.g., food, a seat, a taxi ride.

~ Love always, Molly


(In the village market with stepmother)



(With Jitaba and Dialli)