Sunday, June 17, 2012

Trees, Birthday, and Continuing Girls' Education!

Greetings, Friends and Family!

It hasn't been too long since my last entry (Crazy, I know. Me up to date on blogging? Whattt?), so I don't have a ton to report on...

I'm Becoming a Tree-Hugger...

I've spent the past two and a half-ish weeks in-village, so I was able to get a lot of work done; which is awesome, considering I'd just been away on vacation. The big news to report from Mbeuleukhe is that... MY TREES ARE GROWING!!!!! My parents and my fellow volunteer friends in Senegal can attest to the fact that I have been FREAKING OUT over my 1,000 tree sacks that I seeded in April. I've been so worried that they weren't going to be watered while I was away, but luckily the guardian at the school totally hooked me up and watered like a pro. I can't even describe my happiness and relief! Now let's just hope that they keep growing once they're all actually in the ground. That will be the real challenge.

My wonderful, wonderful trees!

The front group died a bit here

Look at this beautiful moringa!

Let's Send Some Girls to School, Yo!

The other main thing going on in my world at the moment is that I began conducting a yearly scholarship we have here in PC Senegal, the Michele Sylvester Scholarship. Created for a former volunteer who was particularly devoted to girls' education, the scholarship supports nine middle school-aged girls per village, and is definitely the largest-scale project in PC Senegal. We focus on girls in the middle school age group, because that is the age that many girls start to drop out of school.

The scholarship pays all nine girls' school entrance fee for the next school year; and three of the girls win the "grand prize," around $30, to buy school supplies for the next school year. To send nine girls to school for a whole school year and to give three of them the "grand prize," only comes to $180; which seems like such a small amount by American standards, but is a huge amount in a Senegalese village.

These past two weeks, I've worked with the school in my village to choose the girls (3 per grade in the 3 "middle school" grades, totaling 9), interviewed the girls, gotten teacher recommendation letters, visited the girls' homes to access their need, etc. In July, I'll submit all of the forms to a committee to help chose the three grand prize winners. It's a really rewarding project, especially since I get to know and see the girls when I'm at the school; and in September, we hold a girls' camp for all of the winners.

Ndimo, one of the scholarship girls

My Mbeuleukhe girlfriends

She lives right next to my compound

Aloucky, who was participated next year

I'm doing well with all of my work for the scholarship at this point. The only thing I need to work on as of right now is fundraising; which is where all of you lovely people come in...

 If you would like to help support the lovely ladies of Mbeuleukhe in staying in school, please click on the link below to make a donation and MAKE SURE TO WRITE "PCV Fae Patton- Michele Sylvester Scholarship" IN THE COMMENT BOX! This ensures that the donations will go to the girls in my village, and if there is any excess money, then it will go in the general scholarship fund for girls in other villages. Thanks in advance to anyone who donates!!!

 **Make sure to write "PCV Fae Patton- Michele Sylvester Scholarship" in the comment box. THIS IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT!!**

My First (and last) Birthday In-Village...

So I entered Senegal at age 22, and I just celebrated my 24th birthday in my village. That means that next year for the big 2-5, I'll be back in Americaaaa! Woo!

My birthday was verrrrry low-key because people in Senegal don't celebrate birthdays, so I didn't tell anyone it was my b-day. Jenn came to hang out in my village and we did some work on the scholarship program. I need to say a big thank you to everyone who called or texted all the way for the USA! Thanks, people!! It made my day!

And obviously I was missing my birthday buddies, Kyle and Dani. Can't wait until next year when we'll all be togetherrr! Last year, I had my host family kids film a video saying "Happy Birthday from Senegal," and they still to this day will randomly say it aloud. Recently my sister Bassine made a drawing and asked me to write "Happy Birthday from Senegal" on the bottom. So though she did not know that it actually was my b-day time, she was right on schedule.

"Happy Birthday from Senegal"

And I'll throw in one of Seyni on my ipod

That's All for Now...

So I'm heading back to village tomorrow. My host mom is verrrry pregnant so there could possibly be a new baby brother or sister when I get back! I'm really excited! Everything has been really good in-village. Now that I'm in my second year of service, I feel like everything is slowly starting to fall together and work is actually happening.

As always, I miss all of you and appreciate all of the love I've received here. And a very Happy Fathers' Day to all the dads out there, including my amazing Dad, Pop, and all of my uncles! Love you all!