My 15 seconds of BBC radio fame

So the BBC World Service called me today. Not exactly every day that I can say that.


They were doing a programme on Ebola in Senegal and Nigeria and I guess found this blog and asked me to be a part of the discussion. However, there was just a wee little mix-up about the time of this live broadcast, so at about 4:22pm I was suddenly and crazily grabbing the kids, my laptop and charge cord and hauling it across the street to our friends’ house where their nanny could watch Thing 1 while I put Thing 2 in a carrier. She amazingly fell right to sleep just in time for sound checks with the BBC. I guess it is kind of old hat for her

photoListen to the episode here.

At 10 mins 50 sec they tried to go to me with a question, but Senegal internet had other plans and Skyped dropped the call.

But you can hear my little clips from 13:15 to 14:05 and from 16:07 to 18:02.

Fortunately you don’t hear bébé Ndeye waking up from her nap just a minute later!

The nutshell version of what I said is that the Senegalese people are relieved but still concerned about Ebola. They stepped up and took responsibility for themselves and listened to health officials, not giving in to panic.

And at 38:30 they talked with our good friend, Dr Tabitha Kieviet who is doing amazing work at Keru Yakaar clinic here in Dakar.

What Can We Learn About Ebola Treatment From Nigeria and Senegal

Nigeria has been declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation after going six weeks with no new cases. Nigeria won praise for its swift response after a Liberian diplomat brought the disease there in July. The outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. The World Health Organisation also said Senegal is free of Ebola – after a case of the disease occurred in late August. What can we learn from Nigeria and Senegal in how they treated Ebola? What is life on the ground in Nigeria and Senegal? Do people trust the information from WHO?

Listen to the episode here.

There’s always next year…

photo 1

Taken about halfway up the lighthouse path

“22 more days!”

It seems I’ve earned a reputation as ‘that girl who’s doing the hot season countdown’. I thought everyone did it, to be honest! But people have brought it up enough times in the past week for me to realize not all are quite as (fill in the blank with a nice adjective for someone who is overly-organized) as I am in this regard.

photo 1

The African Renaissance Monument from the top of the lighthouse

On the bright-as-Senegal-sun side, we’ve just recently discovered a very enjoyable hot season activity.

Can you believe this is in Dakar?

Can you believe this is in Dakar?

This morning I met up with some new friends to run/walk the Phare des Mamelles lighthouse, which according to Senegalese geography textbooks is one of the two ‘mountains’ of Dakar. I arrived before Stina and Annie, my Swedish running mates, so did a little warm-up on my own.

They were nice and went easy on me... but not too easy!

They were nice and went easy on me… but not too easy!

It was gorgeous.
It was so quiet.
It was peaceful.
It was so green.
It was so un-Dakar.

So calm.

So calm.

photo 2

Taken on the first lap… but I was still smiling at the end!

“Where could I donate that?” – Autumn 2014

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As hot season comes to an end (it will – I promise!) and you start to swap out your warm-weather clothes, you may feel the urge to do some serious cleaning out and decluttering around the house. Perfect timing!

If you find yourself looking at a pile of stuff thinking, “Who could use this?” or “Where could I donate that?”, this list is for you! I’ve compiled a list of 20+ local organizations and projects that are in need of non-financial donations and many of the items could be in that ever-growing pile sitting in front of you…

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.05.06 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.05.23 PM

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.06.57 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.07.13 PM

You can download the PDF below to find a good home for everything from can openers to cloth diapers, cleaning supplies to children’s books!

Download the PDF list for Autumn 2014

The list includes current donation requests from Keru Yakaar (House of Hope) Clinic, Orphanage Lac Rose, Animal Rescue League of Dakar, The Beer-Sheba Agricultural Project, La Pouponniere de Dakar, L’Ecole Renaissance des Sourds and other great initiatives in and around Dakar.

Please share the list with anyone you think may be interested.

I plan on updating the list every six months, so if you know of a project or organization that may want to be included in the next round, just let me know. Thanks!

I’m not saying it’s hot…


I’m saying…

“Such perfect weather for watching bread dough rise.”

“Just think how much money we’re saving by not using the hot water heater for showers!”

“Pumpking spice latte? No, thank you. I’d rather suck on these ice cubes.”

“My hair looks so interesting in 94% humidity.”

“What beautiful condensation drops covering my glass and pooling on the coaster.”

“Why yes, I will have another mango popsicle.”

“Red-faced and sweaty is the new black.”

“Would you look at that? The thermometer has risen to the challenge of registering higher than yesterday!”

Missionary 101

My family in Cote d'Ivoire

My family in Cote d’Ivoire

A while back, my friend Erin suggested I write a post on missionaries.  Who are they? What do they do? Why do they do it? 

For those outside the missionary community, it’s not a very easy concept to understand.

As the daughter of missionaries, I think I’m in a good position to share some insights and hopefully some understanding too.

Having grown up surrounded by ‘uncles and aunts’, I have a deep admiration for missionaries, but find that I can also be very critical of them. What can I say? I’ve known some great ones who set the bar very high. ;)

Of course, this post will feature lots of generalizations and all are from my viewpoint, so not everyone will agree. But here it goes…

Trying to explain a missionary is like trying to explain a doctor.

  • Some are great at what they do. Others aren’t so good. And some are downright bad.
  • Some are very specialized (working in a small village, for example). Others work across regions (or, in my parents’ case, 80+ countries).
  • Some spend their days working among people and others in an office setting.
  • Some are great and passionate and hardworking and humble. Others are tired, selfish, overwhelmed and have forgotten why they started down this path in the first place.

What a missionary actually does from the time they wake up in the morning until they go to sleep at night can be as varied as what a neurosurgeon in NYC does in comparison to a general practitioner in Longview, Texas. It totally depends on the person, their actual job and their context.

So what do missionaries have in common?

Outdated clothes.

Kidding, kidding. I’m kidding. Actually some of the most stylish women I know are missionaries. They’ve found aspects of the Senegalese clothing culture that suit them and have created a personalized hybrid that’s beautiful.

My first taille-basse outfit. Rockin' the wax print and puffy sleeves.

My first taille-basse outfit. Rockin’ the wax print and puffy sleeves.

Missionaries are people who have known the love of God in their lives so powerfully that they want to share it with others. Some missionaries do this by staying in the same place they grew up, but others move across the globe to do so. Those are the ones I’m talking about here.

How does someone become a missionary?

The first step to becoming what is called a ‘career missionary’ is finding out that such a thing exists. The second is feeling like God may be inviting you to go that route… wherever on the globe it might end up! Steps 3 thru 116 in the process are usually finding an mission organization that appeals to you and then a long series of very in-depth questionnaires, interviews, personality tests and even medical tests. If you’re going to be sent overseas to represent God and an organization, that organization wants to be sure they know every.single.thing about you. And that they like it, en plus.

Once a person passes all these very lengthy stages, they may then enter a time of fundraising and enlisting people to pray for them as they go. There’s also usually a pretty intense training period that may include cultural introduction, team-building and learning how to kill and butcher a chicken or use a squatty-potty, depending where in the world you’ll be moving.

Missionary dictionary
MK: Missionary Kid, now more commonly called a TCK
TCK: Third Culture Kid
Stateside or Home Assignment: a period of time in which the missionary goes back to their home country to reconnect with their family, friends and churches… and usually gain 20lbs.
Sending church: a church that endorses the work a missionary is doing and generally supports them financially
Supporters: individuals that endorse the work a missionary is doing and generally support them financially
Prayer supporters: people who pray for missionaries and their work

What is a missionary’s ‘day job’ then?

They may be translating the Bible into another language, working in a health clinic, teaching English, setting up desert irrigation or counseling families in crisis… or even doing accounting and bookkeeping for their organization. Whatever their job is, their purpose is to share the message of God’s love for all people.

What challenges do missionaries face?

Since many rely on financial support from churches or individuals, there’s a constant underlying (or surface!) stress over money. Many missionaries live by faith, which is a difficult but beautiful thing. The next time you find yourself talking to missionary, ask them to tell you about a time God provided for their needs. I have no tips for getting them to stop talking once this topic is introduced. ;)

All parents worry about their kids. In addition to the usual concerns about raising little ones, missionaries also worry that their TCKs (Third Culture Kids: children who were raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture) may grow up speaking their ‘native’ language with a foreign accent, not know how to flush an American-style toilet, or not recognize their grandparents at the airport…

My brother and our pet monkey

Some missionaries feel they can’t take vacations or even go to nice restaurants because everything gets run through the filter of ‘What would our supporters think if they knew we were spending money on this?’ (Here’s my two centimes if you are one of these supporters: Most of these missionaries are very in need of a break and some rest. Encourage them to do so and not feel guilty.)

Culture shock, learning a new language, adapting to a new culture, fitting back into your home culture and going through reverse culture shock… these are continual challenges missionaries face.

In their hardest moments, missionaries ask themselves, “Is it worth it?” Was uprooting my family, moving across the globe to a place where I’ll never fully fit in to share a message that doesn’t seem to be getting through really the right decision?

JennStill have questions? Senegal Daily is happy to provide you with a new limited-time feature called ‘Ask a Missionary’!

Write your questions in the comments below and one of my favorite missionaries, Jenn DeAtley is ready to answer them over on her awesome blog.

How’s your Tabaski math?

My friend Susie took this ram-errific photo today. Dakar is just packed with them!

My friend Susie took this ram-errific photo today. Dakar is just packed with them!

Sunday is Tabaski, the biggest holiday of the year in Senegal. Think the big traditional Christmas family gathering, but with new Easter clothes (times two or three outfit changes during the day) and the food of Thanksgiving, plus the parties of New Year’s Eve, then add the marketing hype of July 4th and Halloween. That’s Tabaski.

Or here’s the Wikipedia version: religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to honor the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his young firstborn son Ishmael a as an act of submission to God, before God intervened to provide him with a ram to sacrifice instead.

Some Americans celebrate all the holidays I just mentioned, but not all. But here, nearly everyone is in for Tabaski. The population is 95 percent Muslim and the Senegalese people were recently ranked the 8th most religious worldwide. So yeah, the biggest Muslim holiday of the year is a big deal here. The cities empty out (even starting on Friday) as people head home to their villages for the weekend.

Someone is really going to miss his sheep-riding adventures come Sunday...

Someone is really going to miss his sheep-riding adventures come Sunday…

Here’s a little Tabaski math problem for you:

If there are 13 million people in Senegal and each family will buy and sacrifice (at least) one ram, how many sheep will be killed on Sunday?

On that lovely note, I wish you a happy week-before-Tabaski.

50 tips for running in Senegal

Danielle dans la brousse

Danielle dans la brousse

Runner’s World recently ran an article on what you should wear to run. It even had a handy dandy calculator thingy that you could plug in the details of the weather where you are and the type of run and it would spit out what you should be wearing. I gave it a whirl with Dakar weather. It said shorts and a sports bra.

Yeah. No.

Senegal is different when it comes to running. Fortunately, exercise (even for women) is seen as a good thing here and is encouraged. But there are still some unique challenges and things to be aware of, whether you’re a newbie or experienced runner.

I asked some of my local runner buddies for their advice (and then pulled pictures from their Facebook pages without asking) and compiled the list below. Happy running!

Trevon in Ouakam

Trevon in Ouakam

1. Stick with it. With the heat, humidity, and most importantly the dew point levels being as high as they are, it is easy to want to quit and give up. Just keep telling yourself it will make you stronger. With consistency, your body will adapt.

2. Invest in nice running sunglasses and a viser to keep the sun out of your eyes/off your face. That sun is HOT :)

3. The dew point in Senegal is a killer. When planning your week’s runs, look at the upcoming forecast and the dew point. On days when the dew point will reach 79 or higher, try to use those as your rest days.

4. Find a place to run where you feel safe, but also don’t feel like a spectacle.

5. Run early mornings if possible.

Heat is fun, right?

Heat is fun, right?

6. On one of my first runs, I bought attaya and sugar at the buutik and gave them to the villa guards as I passed and said hello. They all remember me and watch out for me extra now.

7. For women, be mindful of what you wear — longer T-shirts and longer shorts. Yes, people are used to seeing women exercising, but to dress as you might in the US can make you more of a target and is less culturally sensitive.

8. Pay attention! Lol

9. Remember to drink LOTS of water. It is hotter AND much more humid than pretty much anywhere you have run before.

10. Guys should always wear a shirt; even though some toubabs don’t wear one. It’s just inappropriate and abnormal not to.

Saint-Louis Jubilee Run

Saint-Louis Jubilee Run

11. Carry a drop wallet, a small wallet with a couple thousand franc in it. If someone tries to come after you, drop the wallet as a decoy and then RUN.

12. For running in the races in Dakar, do NOT to expect it to be like races anywhere else. They start late, are not very organized, it is easy to get lost on the routes, but it is STILL so worth the experience.

13. Wear baggy shorts, not tight fitting for cultural reasons, and also stay aware of your surroundings.

14. The best time to run is Sunday morning at 7.

15. It’s probably safe to run on your own, but running with a group gives that piece of mind, and you’ll perhaps venture into neighborhoods that are off the beaten path. We run up through Ouakam, and have seen a number of the different (read: uniquely Senegal) things while on a run.

Fun for the whole family!

Fun for the whole family!

16. In Senegal, running is not a solo sport. You may be joined by little kids and cheered on or encouraged by on-lookers you pass. Give them the ‘thumbs up-thanks’ and keep going!

17. Do not run at night on the Corniche.

18. Running outside is ALWAYS better than a treadmill. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

19. You can teach your body to work more efficiently in the heat, but it may take some time. Well worth it though.

20. Senegalese runners have have told me to be off the Corniche road in Dakar before dark, by 7pm.

Brighter = Better

Brighter = Better

21. Do not run in cotton. When cotton gets wet (which it will) it will become heavy and cling to your body. Always run in dry-fit materials.

22. A nice place to run outside of Dakar is Bargny, out towards Diamniadio.

23. It helps to run with a group, especially if you’re a female.

24. A handheld water bottle is a must. Nathan makes a great one with a strap that makes it effortless to carry, and it comes with a zippered pouch to hold your phone and a little emergency CFA. Portable water is totally necessary in a hot land with questionable street water!

25. In rural towns, women can run in loose fitting t-shirts and capris. Below the knee, cover your butt and shoulders.

Dakar Jungle Run

Dakar Jungle Run

26. Try not to get killed. Hehe.

27. The nicest place to run is the Petite Corniche (ocean road) in Almadies.

28. You can buy running clothes at the Monday market by the Orange stadium. I wouldn’t buy socks or shoes there, but shorts, capris and tops.

29. Watch your feet! We’ve had a lot of tripping incidents, twisted ankles, broken toes (they were pre-fractured so not technically the fault of running). But there is a lot of really interesting things you see all around you, too, so you have to look around, too.

30. Be sure to pre-hydrate 15 minutes before running and then drink every half hour.

The Corniche, a favorite stretch for Dakar runners

The Corniche, a favorite stretch for Dakar runners

31. We run early morning, so we definitely need our flashlights.

32. Clothing that would normally be considered too fitted/short may be more acceptable when you are doing sports.

33. Look at the heat from the positive side – you sweat a lot easier and that makes you feel like you’re working out a lot harder.  :)

34. The one thing you really need to run here is to be alert because inevitably you’ll be splashed or end up behind some vehicle or people or a bus will cut over right in front of you, or whatever. It’s not really a place you can run and zone out.

35. There’s a French running club (Les caimans) and also Dakar Hash Harriers.

Ready, set...

Ready, set…

36. Take a friend with you when you go. That way you have company as well as safety in numbers.

37. Be sure to take in the beauty of where you’re running, especially if you’re near the corniche. This is a beautiful place; take a minute to take it all in!

38. Put 1000 franc bill in your shoe – just in case.

39. Focus on heart rate, not speed or distance.

40. Specifically on the weekends (Saturday morning and Sunday morning) I enjoy running on the VDN. It is always very clam and clear, like having Dakar to yourself… while the Corniche is way too packed on the weekends.

What humidity?

What humidity? (This Girl convinced me that running in Senegal could be fun. Thank you, Rachael!)

41. Choose loose-fitting clothing that cover shoulders, mid-section and thighs.

42. If you’re in an area where women don’t exercise in public much, when possible, run early in the day when less people are out.

43. My favorite place to run is on the Corniche…big surprise! Starting from one either end and running to La pointe des Almadies is always a good long run.

44. If you need to buy running clothes locally, ask where to buy “un jogging”, which is the term for outfits that the girls wear here for gym classes.

45. Running on the VDN, away from downtown, to Diamalaye (Yoff cemetary) brings you right onto the beach where tons of people go to exercise. There are also restaurants on the beach, etc.

Dakar Marathon Races... where distance is approximate. ;)

Dakar Marathon Races… where distance is approximate. ;)

46. Try to run before sunrise or after sundown.

47. Running in Dakar’s heat and humidity can be rough but the increases the physical stress on the body increases the intensity of the run, which results in a higher heart rate. So it’s not all bad news when it gets hot.

48. For guys, regular running shorts are fine (Dakar has become Western enough for short-shorts, haha), dry-fit apparel is a definite plus all year around.

49. Running with an iPod is generally safe.

50. Greeting while running is not necessary, however acknowledging the Talibe boys while running at least on a semi-consistent basis is always awesome. They eventually see you as a friend who doesn’t just ignore them. They might still ask you for money every once in a blue moon but more importantly, they actually look forward to seeing everyday, which normally brightens their little mornings.

A favorite route in Saint-Louis

A favorite route in Saint-Louis


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