Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Alvin Ailey in Konni

An email sent from the new internet cafe in Konni, March 17:

Made it in 4 1/2 hours this morning...not too bad, but about 1 1/2 hours longer than my record. Last time, this trip took me 6 hours...that was a long day! You just never know. The bush taxi drivers can go wherever they want and stay there for as long as they want. I'm getting better at just sitting tight and staring into space.

Shoe vendor in Konni

Hadiza came in with the three other young girls who are going to the Maradi conference this morning; they left from Tajae with the volunteer there. I met up with them and took them all around on a mini-tour of Konni. It's pretty cool when you realize this is their first time in the city, ever. They look, suddenly, really, really young and out of place. I'm going to have to be a good chaperone this week and make sure they're comfortable. I took them out to lunch; there's a lady on the corner who makes great rice and sauce. Then we walked down to the post office, which is towards the end of this very busy road, so the girls got an eyeful of vendors selling everything from oranges to bottles of gasoline, motorcycles galore, and as much pavement as they've ever seen. I am pretty confident that none of them had ever been in a car until today...can you imagine what this must all be like? At the post office, the three ladies working there chatted us up for a long time and helped put the girls at ease; when all of the bureaucratic stuff was over (you have to get all of these slips stamped and signed and then pay for it all to get packages), the girls were allowed to go in the back and help me pick up my mail. I have packages galore!!!! THANKS FAMILY!
Next, we headed to the new (and only) internet place in Konni, because I wanted to show them how that works. Not that I can explain it in English, but I had to try! I said it's basically like a really smart cellphone, which they know about, but bigger. So picture this: me and four sweet young girls sitting in a white room around an old gray PC, me trying to explain the Internet in my childish Hausa as the Google homepage loads... And what to show them?! I decided to look up a video of the Alvin Ailey Dance company. It was beautiful, even without the sound....and that's all we did; it occurred to me that with all the world at our fingertips, perhaps we should proceed with caution and deal with reality first.
So then we came back, and I let them pick which package to open together, and they chose Aunt Carol's. Young girls of Niger, meet Teddy Grahams! Thank you Carol!! We loved the photos (and yes you know EXACTLY which one is my favorite), and I devoured the letters later, by myself.

Tomorrow we'll get on a bus to Maradi, where for the next four days the girls will attend a conference for Young Girl Scholars. I saw the agenda- it looks good. Sessions are on a range of topics- everything from health to school to careers. The objective is to give these girls a look at what's out there, if one day they're able to and interested in making a life beyond the village.


Kerry said...

How would I introduce a young African girl to the bigger world, for the first time, on a computer which she had never seen before...I am at a loss to say what that would be. But Alvin Ailey comes pretty close to perfect.

Disordinedeimedici said...

ciao dall'italia

Kerry said...

Hello again, Disordinedemedici. Thank you for your interest in the ways of life in the Sahel.