Day 2.

May 11, 2011

Wow, what a day.  I am so exhausted again from the day but am also so excited to share some of my experience from today.  I visited the orphanage in Yola today, which was a very neat experience.  Surprisingly, there were only 4 orphans when we went-apparently the numbers fluctuate from as little as two to ten.  Behind the orphanage is a primary school, which the orphans attend if they are old enough.  Most children start primary school at age 6 while what we consider preschool does not really exist here. Of the orphans in the home only two were old enough to go to the school, and one of those two boys was special needs which does not allow for him to attend school.  The other two children were also boys, one was about a year old (SO adorable) and the other, also SO adorable, was about 3.  None of their ages are exactly known so many of the care takers “guess-ti-mate” on ages.  Some of the children have extended family who care for them some of the time, while the others were either abandoned or rescued after being kidnapped, in which case their parents are then tried to be located.  Another interesting fact: because many of the children do not have names when coming to the home, they are given the name of the governor.  If the child is a girl they will name her after the governor’s mistress. So, essentially all of the orphans have the same name.

After visiting the orphanage we headed to the school which is literally behind the home, maybe 200 feet.  There we spoke to the head master of the school and he then walked us around the school and took us to each classroom. Upon entering the classroom they all chanted a welcome song and then told us what hey were studying.  we then introduced ourselves and the head master then continued to tell them that we were from America.  He then asked how many of the children wanted to go to America, and ALL their hands went up.  They have such an idolized view of us all, when in reality we aren’t all perfect either…I mean what country really is?  After the classroom visits, he told us that it was probably going to be the highlight of their day with many of them going home to tell their parents they saw westerners today.  I had remembered the children’s first reactions to me when I taught in Thailand, but during this experience today the realization was much more prominent.  Thailand is a much more touristy place, which pretty much guarantees that most children there have seen white foreigners.  On the other hand, most children here are not exposed to tourists…Yola obviously isn’t the tourist attracting place, so their reactions to us are much more surprising.

After walking about the school we headed back to the orphanage again and hung out with the kids for a bit before we got picked up.  The head mistress of the home kept telling us to take the kids….not sure if she was using sarcastic undertone or not, but pretty sure not.

After the site visit we headed deeper into the bush and picked up three others who had went out into villages with Dr. Sumit for the day.  From there we all headed to the market.  I have to say that this was probably one of the most overwhelming, exciting, nerve wrecking, scary things I have ever experiences.  We were the ONLY westerners in the ENTIRE market.  This market was also HUGE.  The market in Yola where we are staying is much smaller and not as remote, so I guess I should have assumed we would stand out.  People were following us (mostly kids) and just staring.  If we stopped to look at something, which the majority of the time we all stopped together (all 9 of us) and two minutes late a mob of 30 people would be around us just watching what we were doing.  Definitely gave me a taste of what it feels like to be a minority…and it isn’t the best feeling.  It was uncomfortable for awhile, so we decided to leave and head back to the marketin town where many of the people knew Jess, the woman who lives here and is the leader of our group.  I wish I had some pictures of the first market we went to…it really is indescribable, it was just not the time or place to take photos.  I guess that memory will have to stay locked away in my memory.

After stopping at the second market I picked out a fabric for tomorrow night.  A tailor will be coming to measure us and using the fabric to make traditional Hausa dresses and head pieces for us.  The fabric and the tailor costs all of 12 dollars…I will be sure to post photos once we are all in the gowns:-)

Wish i could write more, but its 11pm and I have another site visit tomorrow.  Not to mention it took 2 hours to upload these few photos and the air conditioning just went out in our room :-/ I will try to post in a few days before we head out to the safari this weekend. Miss you all!

here are some photos I snapped today:


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2 Responses to “Day 2.”

  1. Lauren I love reading about what you have been up to, and the pictures are amazing! I’m soooooo jealous that you are there right now, wish I was right by your side. Stay safe, and keep writing! MUAH
    Love, Feist

  2. Dina Athey said

    HI Lauren,

    I am so glad you finally made it!! Eric and I can’t wait to hear more. The one you posted on your visit to the orphanage did not come through, so I when you get a chance let us know how it went.

    Love you

    Dina

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