My Host Family
Today is the three week mark that I’ve been gone from home and in country. Well I guess I got here officially on Friday, June 6th. Joe, our first PCVF, said something that didn’t make any sense until I started classes: “The days go by slowly, but the months fly by.” It’s so true. It didn’t make any sense at first.
I’ve been with my host family for two weeks now. It’s a weird feeling and most of the time I feel like I’m dreaming. I really feel like I’m dreaming.
I arrived to my Host Family on June 12th. From the very beginning, they have been so nice to me and considerate. I found out that I am the first volunteer to stay at their home. It makes more sense now; they are so eager to please me. They also ask a lot of questions about America. Unfortunately, I don’t understand most of them right now. And I am sure that they don’t understand what I am saying most of the time in return.
I have a host mom named Laurentine, and two sisters, named Anita and Olivia, 11 and 7. I have a cousin named Ava who does everything around the house. She is the stereotypical definition of women in the Burkina Faso culture. She cleans all the dishes and laundry, and prepares all the food. I do not have an in-country father. I was under the impression that he lived somewhere else and then came home on the holidays, but I now I believe that she’s not married.
There are two other little girls here, but they normally prepare and package juice and sell it in the market during the day. I feel badly for them. I do not know if they go to school. I know that Anita and Olivia do, however. Upon me being there for three days, Ava passed her huge exam that allows her to continue her education. She’s about 20 years old, I guess. I hadn’t realized how big of a test this is for the students. They have two chances to pass it, and it determines the rest of their life. Literally. But the education system is for another story and entry.
My family is so nice to me. With me being the first volunteer that they have hosted, they cater to my every need, down to asking how I like my water temperature for my bucket bath. In the mornings, I normally get up and use the bathroom outside to show that I’m awake. I then go back to my bedroom until my water is ready for my bucket bath. They prepare warm water for me.
When finished getting ready, the little coffee table that they use for a dinner table is full of coffee, powdered milk, sugar, and my prepared breakfast for the day. I can’t even open the milk lid; they do it all for me. I do, however, pour my own water for my instant coffee. Most of the time I have an omelet with onions for breakfast. I can see the oil oozing out of it, and it grosses me out, but I have to eat it. Here they judge your every move, trying to understand Americans and trying to make you happy. I normally try and socialize, asking how they slept and so forth, and what are their plans for the day. Communication is still difficult, however, with my limited knowledge of French.
My evening activities depend on what time I come home. I don’t like to go home immediately after school, so I either go to the cyber cafe, hang out, grab a drink, or sometimes I’ll go home and play with my sisters. My curfew is 7pm, so I have to be home by then no matter what. Also it’s dark here by then, and my flashlight doesn’t work on my bike. When getting home, my family makes me a cold bath. They think that’s weird, but it’s hot during the day. The bath feels so good. We have dinner anywhere between 7:30- 8:00pm. Dinner is an entire hour ordeal, and a family friend always comes over to eat. His name is Moousa.
Dinner is usually one of three or four different meals that are rotated through different days. My favorite is couscous with cabbage and tomato sauce. There is normally some type of meat, which scares me. I like the fish, but I have to pick out the tiny bones in it. I don’t like the other meat because it’s really chewy, and most of the time there is a bone or fat attached. Unfortunately, it grosses me out, and that makes me feel very guilty.
After dinner, I try to socialize or watch the soccer game. I hate soccer, but they love it. I just pretend I like it and stare blankly at the TV. I go to bed around 9-9:30. I am usually exhausted by this point. Also I try and study French and want my own time to myself. Being watched all day is exhausting and I want my independence back. I try to go to bed early, too because I am always awakened by the dog, donkeys, the Muslim calling, or something else. I wake up a lot, or it’s just plain really hot outside, and that’s difficult to sleep through.