Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Family Tree

I have spent the last 11 nights at my new residence and I am happy to report that I am happy to call the Barry house a home. My new family is truly amazing and I look forward to the next two years with them here in Vélingara.
I will try my best to explain the dynamics of the Barry/Jalo family but like most Senegalese families they are complex. Though you call someone your brother and he lives at your house he might be a boy from a neighboring village. You would never know this unless you dig a little and ask. (Description follows photo)

My grandmother, Mama or Fatoumata, is in her 90’s and as strong as an ox. She has more energy than me on most days and she is truly a joy to have around the house. I love watching her and she gets a kick out of talking to me in Pulaar, a fair exchange I would say. 

Safy (or Yayé meaning great aunt) is my late host father’s first wife and she also lives with us (my mom is his second wife). She is older, I would think mid to late seventies maybe, and has a hard time seeing. She has kids of her own that are grown and they have kids; they all come around the house often but that is a whole other family tree. She mostly keeps in her room and I try my best to speak with her when I see her and she just laughs. 

My mom Assiatou, also known as Nene which is mom in Pulaar, is a 54 year old woman who loves to dance, spend time with her family, and visit friends and family in and around town. I am named after this beautiful woman. She does not speak French and she uses that to her advantage to make me practice Pulaar.

My brother, Abidina, is a French teacher at a school here in town. Since my host father has passed away he is the man of the house.  He is 33 and has three children with his wife Mari. Its obvious that everything he works for is to better the lives of his children and family. 

Mari, Abidina’s wife and the foundation of the family. She is 24, its very common for the woman to be much younger than the man in Senegal. From what I can tell right now Mari stays at home with the kids but while they are in school she studies to finish what is the equivalent to our middle school. While at home she does literally all the chores; taking care of three kids, cooking, cleaning, and laundry (by hand of course). 

Ousmane, who is 11, is Abidina’s nephew. His mother died when he was really young and his dad lives in a nearby village so he lives with us, but he thinks that Nene is his mom. They said they will tell him when he is older that his mother passed and apparently its normal in Senegalese culture for him not to know about his birth mother until later. He helps out around the house a lot. He is at the right age right now he wants to help with more “grown up” things but is very sweet at heart. 

Adama, who is 7, is the cousin of Abidina.  He is also unaware that his birth mother died when he was young and also thinks that Nene is his mom; he will be told when he is older as well. He is a little bit more of a menace, though still very polite. He helps out around the house just as much as the other children but likes to play with kids around the neighborhood more.

This brings me to Salimatou, the oldest of Mari and Abidina. She is 7 years old. She is like any other child in the states and loves to play around the neighborhood, learn, and help her mom.

Diénabou is the middle child and is 4 years old. She is starting school this year for the first time and is very excited. She is a typical sweet young girl who loves to dance and wants to do everything her older sister does. 

Abdulaye, or Ablaye for short, is the youngest of Abidina and Mari’s children, he is about 15 months old. He is a riot! He walks around the house all day saying Nene (mom) and Baba (dad). You can tell he is just realizing the power he has with knowing how to use his voice, he talks all day. Also worth mentioning, he is always into something!


Ashley Weis said...

OMG your host family is SO cute! steal me one of those children :) hahah

Kari Cinker said...

Agreed! So cute!! I loved this post :)


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