Wednesday, May 26, 2010

St. Louis, Sénégal Jazz Festival

Jazz Fest! Woo hoo! Even though I sadly had to miss the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival I was able to get my down home late night dancing fill in St. Louis, Senegal at the jazz fest there. St. Louis (pronounced Sant loohee) is the old french colonial capital of Senegal and French West Africa. So its got a pretty unique vibe and architecture. For some reason it reminds of French/African Duluth, MN. Its in the north of the country near Mauritania and has two islands and lots of bridges, beaches, and a huge market. I stayed with this British guy named Tim who is working for the Belgium in Senegal. His apartment was right in the middle of the big market.
I hadn't ever really kicked it with Belgians before but I had a great time with Alexandra, Francois, Michelle, and Lucia (not Belgian). The language situation there was awesome, slipping between English, French, and Spanish like we were all refined Europeans.
We were supposed to stay with these chill dudes Dev and Marco in some Mauritanian tent but phone trouble got in the way, still we kicked it with them and saw some chill music.
Probably the coolest part of the weekend I do not have photographed. It was the 11-2am bar scene in St. Louis. Awesome African bands, with tons of drums really loud and all of the Senegalese favorites, everybody dancing (I'm getting better every time I go out to dance Senegalese style). Dancing Senegalese, for me, is a lot of imitation, courage, and laughs. I always have fun. This is at the festival itself which was sort of a let down, we only went one night.Life at AMLD is good, back in Ngor, the internet stinks at my house but there is enough for this one post. Funny story, so Leanna and Ben were at Ben's family's house in Keur Massar and they were eating, watching tv and they just told the fam that I was in St. Louis, and then 30 seconds later, there is the news story on the local RTS 1 channel about the festival and there was a clip of me. Basically now I am a celebrity. Just kidding. But seriously no one has ever called me and been like "you're on tv!" before, pretty sweet. Alright, PEACE yalls.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chilling and Bissap

I've been chillin au Senegal.
There are a couple of awesome Senegalese things in this picture. My brown bag on the ground (thanks Aunt Laurie), the mat on the ground that is the dining room floor eating zone, and the purple cloth (called tissue here) that Leanna ended up getting tailored into a dress.

Bissap: the national drink of Senegal
Its tasty, full of antioxidants and good for the brain. Drink it if you are tired, stressed, or thirsty. People sell this stuff everywhere and its also a common beverage at parties BYOBissap

two to three cups of dried hibiscus flowers
one to two cups of sugar
sprig of mint
one cup pineapple juice or orange juice

1. Rinse the dried flowers in cool water.
2. In a pot heat two liters of cold water. As soon as the water begins to boil, add the dried hibiscus leaves. Immediately remove from heat and let the flowers steep for ten minutes. Pour the water from the pot into a pitcher using a strainer to separate the flowers from the water. Stir in the Sugar. Add the other flavorings (if you want).
3. Add ice and chill completely
4. Serve anytime, and especially with ceebu jën or poulet yassa (ill hook yalls up with those recipes soon)

Now I'm working on the value of local foods in nutritional security and malnutrition for IDPs, irregular migrants, and refugees in West Africa. Check this out about the moringa tree. The peace corps and other agricultural development organizations are doing work on microgardening and school/community/health post gardens. I think its all fascinating.

We started working on this because of the growing food insecurities in West Africa, specifically the crisis in Niger.

FEBS moves forward. New plan: big health event in July. T-shirts should be ready to go by June. Meeting with the Medicin Chef and another guy in Yoff on tuesday. Monsieur Dieng is mailing our proposal to the national malaria (PNLP) and HIV (ANCS, CNLS) initiatives so that we can have a HIV and TB testing site and mosquito net giveaways at the event. You know how it do.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Work Work Work FETE Work WEEKEND

Sup y'all.
Bzurk here giving you a little rundown since Tuesday.

First, quick question for the blogosphere. How do these women carry so much stuff on their heads? The back baby I am beginning to understand, but its the head balancing that is beyond me.

Tuesday: the anniversary of Bob Marly's death. He was a pretty great guy. Huge parties all over town. I had work but I was going to check out the beach party at night and I walked down there with a friend of mine but it was wayyy too sketchy and we got kind of freaked out and left.
Wednesday: I had a terrible day at work which was made so much better by the fact that Thursday was a random Senegalese holiday. I went to a saweet concert put on by the US embassy (random) in honor of Peace, Tolerance, and Understanding. I like all of those things and the concert was free. It was in this huge stadium and thousands of people started out in the stands and then all of a sudden somebody said something and everyone rushed the field where the stage was. We basically did a one story jump and made a mad dash with a ton of Senegalese folk. Then the dancing began! ... and didnt stop. We left at 2. It was excellently fun dancing Senegalese style and acting a fool for hours on end. The big artists: Titi, Baaba Mall, Youssou Ndour.

They had partner Senegalese concerts in New York and DC also.

Its Friday now dude
I'm ready for the weekend
Lets go to the plage

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sénégal nekhna

FEBS continues but is not rolling like I had anticipated. I had good meetings with USAID and ANCS (national AIDS association in Senegal) but we have still not begun do really do it to it.
I think the program is going to have to scale back and be more realistic. Stay tuned for new strategy update that will be ready by next Monday.

My financing troubles are not the be and end all in this world. At the end of the day I am a student doing my best. The situation in Uganda is much more dire and I blame poor governance on of a history of colonialism and European imperialism... but that's just me. After so much success in fighting AIDS in Africa, its just not moving forward quickly enough (see a pattern?) watch the video, The Battle Against AIDS is Failing or read the article:
At Front Lines, AIDS War Is Falling Apart

Its hard to really visualize the AIDS epidemic when you aren't here maybe this helps:

This weekend was fun. Friday night was quiz night where we got a little silly and asked some questions. I won the first time and then I got to pose the questions the next time. Maryland Sports Trivia
Saturday was mega laid back and I did absolutely nothing all day and all night, glorious.
Sunday I kicked it with a new friend Lucia, her and I went to Ngor Island (paradise) and just asked this dude if we could help him paint his boat. He was glad for the help and then said we were part of his family. I love Senegal.

That's all for now. I still love mail. Here are some multilingual haiku, French and Wolof. translation in italics

La developpement
C'est trop compliqué , je crois
Faut travailler dur
Is too complicated, I believe
You must work hard

Sénégal nekhna
Q'est-ce que on peut faire?
Je voudrais aider
Senegal, its good
What can one do?
I would like to help

J'aime la vie ici
Oui, je viendrais encore
Trés tôt inchAllah
I love the life here
Yes, I will come again
Very soon G-d willing

Walk by the ocean
I can smell the States from here
I miss barbecue

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Migrantion, Music, Moussa mmmmm

Can you believe it has been one full week since you've gotten the news from Bzurk?
You can probably guess, its because I "does work" that I havnt been able to update
Also I have no Internets chez moi.

Give migrant domestic women Weekly Day Off by signing this petition!
They deserve it. Articles 23 and 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights say:
  • Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  • Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

FEBS continues! and its going pretty fast. I submitted my funding request to USAID yesterday (I walked it there and handed it to them, I felt like a beast). I have a few other leads on places to get funding but if you or your organization wants some corporate social marketing in Africa you should think about investing in Femmes Ensemble pour une Bonne Santé, we're not asking for much.

I have had a pretty chill week. I finished Life of Pi. Its a good book and a fast read. A son of a zoo keeper who has 3 religions has an adventure that is terrible and wonderful. The book makes you think. The beginning and the end are really terrific and the middle is like the struggle of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea I really recommend reading it if you haven't already (I know this isn't cutting edge stuff here).

I'm going to start Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse today.

I have started listening to African music and can listen to nothing else. As of now I'm listening to:
Amadou and Mariam
Les Freres Guisse
Putumayo Presents Africa Acoustic

Have I mentioned my boom box yet? It is my favorite thing in my apartment.

Heres a silly pic of my friend Moussa and I. I went to a wedding at his house on Sunday. Pretty fun, lots of Wolof. It was cool. Everyone was dressed all nice and the food/beverages were great. TONS of people. Our friend from the office Coumba got married in a crazy fast ceremony to Moussa's best friend. She's like my age and was a beautiful bride. Félicitations! Someone was snapping pics and the wedding, maybe Moussa will be able to get them to e-mail them to me... hahaha, or maybe not!

Alls well that goes well here in Senegal. Big meeting today (hopefully) where we can get a bunch of logistics figured out about funding, designing and stuff like that. I will have the logo, t-shirt designs and more specifics of the FEBS strategy ready to go for blog postage soon. Peace out WORLD. and happy birthday David Zamostny, I miss you tons. Remember this game from June, 2001? I do.