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Mali Evenings


From: Melissa Enderle (melissa_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun May 26 2002 - 13:48:06 PDT

    Ah, yes, another typical day in Mali. After a few days of cloudy skies
and slightly cooler (or should I say less hot) temperatures, the sky
regained its blue color with the sun pouring out its ultraviolet rays. This
weekend one of our Malian neighbors held a big party, most likely a marriage
celebration. True to most fetes, there was plenty of live music, with sounds
of a variety of drums dominating. Women dressed in elegant boubous, flowing
around them in a sea of color. The dancing, drumming, singing, and lively
discussions continued throughout the evening, thankfully waning a bit at my
bedtime. The air conditioner drowned out most of the remaining noise. Even
if it was rather difficult to see much from my window, it was obvious that
it was a joyous occasion.

    Throughout the year I have had great pleasure in giving out small gifts
to Malian children and some of the adults I meet on the way to school.
Whether it is a box of crayons and paper, a matchbox car, or a bag of
marbles, they are so appreciative. Even a simple handshake and "bonjour"
makes their young faces light up in a smile. I have "fan clubs" around the
vicinity of my house, with the children waving and shouting my name even at
a distance. One little girl, rushing forward to greet me, nearly took me off
balance as she hugged me with full force. Looking through my wardrobe, I
decided it was time to give away some items. The women were so thankful for
the clothing, even if the items were starting to look a little tired. I took
some digital photos of my neighbors and those working in and around the
duplex. They were delighted as I presented them with printed mementos.
Children eagerly rushed to locate their presence in the photos, giggling
with glee as they succeeded.
As part of their new uniforms, the guardians were issued new shoes - plastic
black shoes. Although the guardians didn't complain, it was obvious that the
shoes were hot and uncomfortable in this humid heat. When asked, one did
admit that the shoes hurt his feet, especially since he didn't have any
socks. I quietly gave him a few pairs of mine. From his praises, you would
have thought the gift was sizeable and expensive - so appreciative of the
little things.

After practicing kora on my porch overlooking the lush yard, I went for a
swim. The menacing ultraviolet rays of the midday sun had disappeared, with
the evening star appearing in the sky. Dusk is also the time for the bats to
appear. They swoop around the mango trees, biting into the succulent fruit,
which is at near peak in the region of Bamako. While swimming I could see
them in the sky, sometimes swooping near the pool but not taking a drink, as
they would normally with the absence of swimmers. Geckoes congregated in the
pool pump area, seemingly having a conversation. The brilliant colors of the
flowering trees soon gave way to the darkness. Crickets began a chorus,
growing louder as more joined in. The beauty of nature....

    At school, things are both drawing to a close and entering a climax.
Final field trips, art shows, graduations and other events are occurring.
Some families are already leaving, some for the summer and some forever.
Kids, some who have been here most of their school years and others for a
year or two, have begun to make the transition of saying goodbye. Some
families will go on to other overseas posts and others are returning to
their home countries. For some of these children, they will be going to
their "home country" - a place in which they have never lived. I too am
preparing to leave. Most of my belongings are now packed in containers
awaiting shipment. Still have those end of the year preparations and
goodbyes to do....

                   |          Melissa Enderle         |
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Melissa Enderle