“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

~Mark Twain

Friday, November 2, 2012

Baa Baa Black Sheep

It’s November. Last November I was saying my final goodbyes, packing up, and getting on plane to fly over here. In the past 11 months, Guinea has transformed itself from a wild an inexplicable adventure to my new normal. As a result, the blog posts have dropped off. Doing laundry by hand, at a point in the past, was out of the ordinary, worthy of a blog post. Now, on laundry day, I haul some buckets of water, turn on my ipod speakers, and get it done. I will do my best to keep posting and keep it interesting.

Last Friday was Tabaski, the Muslim holiday to commemorate when God to Abraham to kill his first born and at the last minute decided that the test was enough of a sacrifice and a sheep would suffice. In Guinea, they often call it “La Fête de Mouton” because every Muslim with the mean to is supposed to sacrifice a sheep and share the meat with friends, family, and the less fortunate. In the days leading up to Tabaski, I saw sheep everywhere. Sheep in cars, sheep on cars, sheep on motorcycles, on boys’ shoulders, tied to a tree. Literally everywhere you looked there was a sheep enjoying its last few days on earth. As an on-again-off-again vegetarian, I was not thrilled about the prospect of seeing sheep slaughtered all over the place. When I close my eyes, I can still picture the slaughtered cow that I saw during Ramadan. I got up early and went for a run. I put on a baseball cap, yoga pants, a t-shirt popped in my ipod and off I went. I did not realize that my normal run took me by the main mosque in my neighborhood. I turned a corner and there were people everywhere and more streaming up the road coming for the morning prayer. The women were in complets, shawls, and head scarves and here I was dressed like a 21st century American. I decided to stop running out of respect, turned off my music and greeted my neighbors as I passed by them. The rest of the day was spent going around and saying hello to people and giving little presents to kids. It was strange after seeing hundreds of live sheep everywhere for days, I did not see a single one get slaughtered. Sheep are very expensive and I live in one of the poorer neighborhoods so I guess nobody could afford it. I am sorry that they did not get to sacrifice a sheep because it is important to their religion, but I am thrilled that I did not spend the day seeing puddles of blood and entrails.

All dressed up for the fete!
For those of you interested in my work, things have been moving along really well. No, I still do not have a credit card to buy the Kindles for BiblioTech, but I have been assured that the request has been sent to France for processing, so one day soon. I am also developing a conference on social entrepreneurship with 7 other volunteers. The conference will introduce 20 youth to social entrepreneurship, take them through the process of dreaming up a social enterprise, doing feasibility studies writing a business plan and then pitching it with the winner getting their start up costs as prize money. It is very exciting and we have started a blog where we and eventually our participants will be posting articles on their experiences. Check it out at osezinnover.wordpress.com. Follow it and send it to other people you think may be interested. If you work in the field of social entrepreneurship and want to contribute an article, we would be thrilled. Osez Innover means Dare to Innovate in French and the blog will soon be up in French as well. 

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