Senegalese Smiles

This trip has allowed me to experience a lot of different things – not only have I seen a lot of the country, gained a new appreciation for the Interstate network in the US, met new people, and strengthened relationships with influential people who are working to stem the tide of child trafficking in Senegal, but I have been able to get out of Dakar and see how people really live.

I’ve also been a cautious shutterbug – some of the Senegalese do not like to have their picture taken and it’s considered very rude/inappropriate to take pictures of certain people or things.  So you always have to ask before you take a picture.  But the thing that I’ve enjoyed the most was interacting with the children.  As soon as they saw my camera they swarmed around me like bees to honey, all the while excitedly exclaiming, “Toubab, toubab!!”  I noticed that a lot of young kids would stare and stare and stare at me – I’m probably the first white person they’ve ever seen.  Some mothers would try and hand their babies/toddlers to me and point to my camera – they all wanted to see their child’s image on my screen – but a few of the children would turn away and start crying.  Poor things, I scared them!!  The ones that were older either gave a deadpan stare to the camera or they hammed it up by doing crazy antics or by trying to take up all of the room and/or crowd out the other kids.

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The first girl on the right really wanted me to take her picture but just as I snapped the shutter she got all bashful.  I love her expression!

The first girl on the left really wanted me to take her picture but just as I snapped the shutter she got all bashful and covered her face. I love her expression!

DSC_0026I just love how bright their eyes and smiles are.  They make me so happy!  When we arrived at the house of the second imam in Tambacounda, a little girl met me at the door as I was getting out.  She smiled right away and pointed to the cars and said, “Am na ñaari autos!”  (There are two cars!)  Evidently she liked them a lot.  Then she saw my camera and touched it and then pointed to herself.  So I took her picture and she giggled gleefully when I turned the camera around and showed her the image.  It was pretty cute.  During our meeting with the imam (I’m guessing she was either his daughter or granddaughter) she’d hide behind the cases (huts) and peek out from behind the walls to see if I was looking at her.  I’d smile and wave at her and she’d giggle and hide again.  Pretty soon she’d sneak out and creep towards the deck where the adults were sitting and talking, trying not to laugh and debating whether she should hide when I met her gaze or to wave back at me when I acknowledged her.  Towards the end of our visit I noticed that she’d gone to the other cases in the concession (family compound) and dragged her little friends out to come see me.  She’d whisper in their ears and point at me.  Then they’d laugh and scamper off.  It became a game to see how many kids she could pull over within eyesight of me and “spy” on me.  When we finished with our business she ran over to me, grabbed my hand and pointed to her little posse and then back to my camera.  She has a lovely smile – and you can tell she was quite pleased with herself that she got to be in several photos.  Then she wanted me to be in a picture with her – by this time she’d captured the imam and his spokes-people’s attention and they lined up on the edge of the deck to watch us.  They thought her antics were pretty funny.

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Two of the girls (white shirt/ yellow shorts & green dress) were slightly afraid of me. I don’t think they’ve ever seen a white person before.

DSC_0009The following picture is probably my favorite one of a Senegalese child.  We went to a tiny village out in the bush – about 6 minutes outside of Kolda in the Casamance region – to see how our funds and efforts are being put to use out in the field.  I’ll write a separate post about that visit but I think her bright, shining face epitomizes the happiness that these people – on a whole – exhibit.  They have so little, yet they are happy, charitable people who are willing to do anything for you.

So here she is.

Senegalese Smiles

Senegalese Smiles

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2 thoughts on “Senegalese Smiles

  1. We enjoyed reading and seeing all your posts on Saturday night after going to the temple! Fun and interesting. Hope your ear is getting better! Love Momma

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