My host family here in the village has done so much for me. Before my house was finished, I lived with my host mom and she cooked and cleaned and washed my clothes and heated my shower water and got my water at the pump and so much more, and then slowly started teaching me how to do it all as well. Even now she still often cooks for me and helps me know what to do and such. So many others in the family have been big blessings, too. I remember one night when my host mom was out of town for a funeral, I think it was. This was before my house was finished and I had moved in, so I was still at my host mom’s house. I tried to help take over some of her chores that she would normally do, and was able to do some, but the whole family (meaning not only her children, but also her husband, co-wives, brother-in-law and his wife, and the other couple living in the courtyard) helped as well. They’re great!
Anyway, here in My Village there is a high value on hard physical labor, but at this time of the year everyone is exhausted from all the harvesting work. I often go out to the fields with them to help them a little bit (though I’m not as speedy as they are!) and also to learn how to do it.
Last Tuesday was no exception, and I went with them that afternoon to pick millet. (In case you don’t know how to pick millet the Vigue way, think of this: imagine a dry corn field that someone has gone through and stomped on all the stalks so that they’re all laying on the ground. Then a half dozen of you go through with knives and cut off the tufts on the top of the corn stalks. Those tufts then all get put together and that’s how you pick millet! You see, since it’s millet and not corn, the grain is actually in those tufts. This is perhaps a slightly simplified explanation of how to do it, but it should give you some idea.)
As I was picking millet with them, my host mom’s three-year-old grandson started crying and calling for me. Yes, kids go along to the fields and usually entertain themselves while the older kids and adults work. Anyway, he started crying and calling my name, so my host mom told me to go and see if I could get him to stop crying and if not to put him on my back. So I did. And the only way I could get him to stop crying was to put him on my back, as you can see in the picture above. He fell right asleep, which is rather normal for tired kids that get put on your back here.
I tried to lay him down, but he kept waking up when I tried, like a kid in the US that you get to sleep by rocking and then who wakes up when you put them down. So I decided to pick millet with a kid on my back. It wasn’t actually as bad as I thought it would be, but I am glad that they objected after not too long and tried to come up with other plans for how to keep the kid happy while not on my back.
Then I just picked millet without a child on my back. Still exhausting, but not as bad. 🙂
There are so many things that I do, see, or experience here that I’d love to share with you, but I can’t share them all. However, as time and energy permits, I’ll try to post more glimpses into life here for you.