Thursday, November 10, 2011

So Far Away But So Close To My Heart

A little background first for those of you who may not know. My boyfriend {of 6 years} , Baz is originally from a very small African country called The Gambia which is located in the middle of Senegal, along the western coast line. All of his family including his mother and father still live over there. Baz and I have made the trip there twice, staying a month at a time {after taking 2 planes, 1 communal car, 3 taxis, a donkey cart and a boat just to get there you wouldn't ever go for less than a month! Lol.}

In the short time I was there I fell in love with his family, everyone was just so amazing. Honestly, even with the language barrier we all became very attached to each other. {By my 2nd trip there the kids all learned English, being able to quiz me about life in America was a great incentive to learn}

Naturally, it was the little children that really stole my heart. In Baz's family compound* there were 3 adorable little girls, Ami, Mariama & Fatou. Ami is Baz's sisters daughter, she has no fear what-so-ever! She has the funniest personality and was my partner in crime the entire time I was there. Fatou was very shy and lovable, she would just sit with me quietly and watch everyone running around. Mariama was the one who was deathly afraid of me! {I'm sure it had to do with my white skin} When I first arrived there she would scream and cry at the top of her lungs if I was in sight, she eventually calmed down and got used to me being there but never enough to let me hold her. The only time I was able to get close to Mariama was while she had a terrible cold and had no energy to attempt to cry. Lol.

What inspired today's post was this photo:

Left to Right: Fatou, Ami, Mariama

It has been nearly 1 year since I last visited The Gambia and yesterday one of the teenage boys posted this picture on facebook {thank you Mark Zuckerberk for making it easier to keep in contact with my family & being able see them through photos}. I couldn't believe it, I had to look it over several times to make sure it really was my 3 little princesses, they have all grown so much!

This photo helps explain what a *compound is:

This is Baz's family compound. There are about 6 different "houses" along this 1 row, each "house" has a common area and a bedroom or 2, in the back of each "house" there is a restroom and cooking area. This group of "houses" is enclosed by a cement fence making it a compound. Baz's family is large {like most Gambian families} so most everyone living in this compound is related, uncles, aunts, cousins all live together sharing the house hold chores such as cleaning and cooking.

I must note that Baz's family compound is considered more upper class as they have family like Baz who live in the USA and are able to send money over every month to help support them. On our 2nd trip we paid to have tile put on the ground as you can see in the picture above.

This is a picture of me and Fatou: **Note, the tile was not yet laid down & the ground was just dirt, like most Gambian homes

And this is me and Mariama, while she was sick of course!:

Last, me and my partner in crime Ami:

All of these pictures were from my 2nd trip, can't you see how much the little ones have grown??? It is so hard being so far away from all of them and impossible for us to visit them every year. {Unfortunately affording the price of tickets and taking an entire month off work is not something we are able to do annually} But with social media such as facebook I can at least get random updates by photos and watch them grow, {im}patiently awaiting for another trip to see them in person. <3

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