Senegal 2010 - Day 7 (Tuesday)

On the Monday, our first day with the children, we learned a few things about which activities seem to work the best and also how to best manage the difference in age between the youngest (about 6 or 7 years old) and the oldest (in their late teens). We also learned that it's not worth carrying on with our activities (most of which are outdoor games and dances) much after 11.30a.m. in the morning session due to the stifling late morning heat and sun.

We decided on the second day to try and teach them all the basics of baseball/softball, giving the younger ones a tennis racket to use instead of a bat. It seemed to go down well and we've repeated the game with variations a few times in the subsequent days (e.g. a kickball version).

One of the participants was a boy about 10 years old with only very slight sight who is taken around by his brother, but is nonetheless very independent-minded. Members of our group have helped him join in all the activties. He and his brother are often the first to arrive here in the morning. During the baseball, Simon was to be seen helping him bat and then picking him up, tucking him under his arm and running with him around the bases (all captured on video). Priceless!


During the baseball, a lad (about 12 years old) called Ibrahimsa, who our team have baptised "Pepe (Reina)" due to his proficiency in goal, took a turn pitching. It was wonderful to watch him involve in the game the younger children in the fielding team by - in between his pitches to the batsmen - throwing the ball to a few of the fielders in turn and getting each to throw it back to him. A very mature young boy. Other characters and personalities have gradually start to show themselves as the activities have progressed.
"Pepe" is in the white sleeveless top on the right.

Jacob's turn as pitcher. The children loved wearing the yellow training bibs we had with us, even if they were too big!

We had much more success today getting the youngsters to join in the dances...

...e.g. YMCA.

An encouraging sign for us was that there were more children present on the Tues. than on the Mon. Word seemed to have got round. And they were waiting at the gate of the school well before the official 9a.m. start to the activities.

That afternoon we showed the children a film: the French-language version of "Ice Age" (with English subtitles for our group) which seemed to go down really well judging by the laughter at the antics of Scrat, Manny and the other animals and the applause at the end. We projected onto a white sheet pinned to a class blackboard using the data projector, dvd player and speakers that we brought with us and will be leaving behind as a gift to the school.

In the evening during our informal Team meeting, Jack had us in histerics when he commented on our Pepe and the way he involved the younger children in the baseball saying, "He's a mini Jesus!" It was as much the way he said it as anything.

Another plus point so far is that there is a fair number of local Muslim children from the neighbourhood that are also coming to our activities. Frère Jean-Yves is delighted with this as it will be good for relationships with the local Muslim community.

Our evening football matches with some older neighbourhood boys are also proving very successful. It is noticeable that we are becoming more able to cope with the heat during these kickarounds the longer we are here. This training was to prove vital in preparation for our one competitive match of our stay here in Richard-Toll which was to take place on the Thurs. against a local neighbourhood team. Neighbourhood vs. neighbourhood matches/competitions are taken VERY seriously and are the equivalent of English Sunday league matches, though pitches here can be rather irregular in size and often act as thoroughfares for the local taxi services (horse-drawn carts known as "calèches"), matches therefore being interrupted by the occasional traffic passing through the middle of the pitch. This really is another world.

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