Hands and their uses

Remember in elementary school through middle school, girls would go to the restroom in groups.  I guess, Senegal has a similar phenomenon.  I’m outside, working out with Paul in the late evening (how can it still be 110 degrees F?), and I see the five neighbor gals outside behind their house, just off a pretty well-used charette path,  squatting all five in the sand.  All five little butts pointed down into the sand.  I admit, I was staring a bit, trying to collect info on the bathroom habits of children here.  So many bits of life are still a mystery to me.  Its a well-known fact that most kids here try as hard as possible to avoid using the latrine.  Most kids are just too scared to be in there by themselves.  Well, anyhow, the girls are all relieving themselves (in Pulaar the word for defecating can be said as “going to the bush”–see below for how Jonno figured this one out), having brought the “poop kettle” with them to wash off.  Diannaba is waving “hi” to me as she’s doing her business.  The older girls finish first, wiping themselves down with water.  Then they help the younger girls wipe, pouring water with right hand, and scrubbing with the left.  I hope my vision is too poor to see that they are actually washing with soap.  AhHa!  So that’s how poop diseases like worms and parasites get passed to people..:)  Its hard to think about this and all the other things we use our hands for: like eating and shaking hands.

Side-note about Pulaar and Jonno: The phrase people use for defecating is mi yahat ladde, meaning, “I am going to the bush.”  A long time ago, Jonno, our amazing neighbor in Taredji, was building a spiny dead acacia fence for his garden/tree nursery using branches that he collected from outside town.  He passed by people’s homes, telling them over and over, each time he passed by, “I am going to the bush.”  Later, during our language seminar, Sakhir pointed out that people use that phrase to mean other things. 🙂  Another amazing pulaar phrase is the one for “diarrhea”: reedu dogguru, which literally translates to “running stomach.”


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