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Senegal Daily

Khady reporting

So, about the Dakar Women’s Group…

As a current member and former executive committee member of the Dakar Women’s Group, aka ‘the DWG’, I have some insights that I would like to share. These are my thoughts and may or may not be shared by the Dakar Women’s Group, but I’m in a privileged place to be able to speak based on experience, understanding and also frustration.

The Dakar Women’s Group is a charitable organization with a social side. It is made up of English-speaking women from all around the world who live here in Dakar. From hosting the city’s largest art show to taking guided tours of local markets, organizing galas and elegant teas to raising funds for local charities to Japanese cooking classes, there’s something (actually probably a lot of things!) for everyone.


In the group you’ll meet professionals, trailing spouses, entrepreneurs, stay-at-home mothers, students… It’s a fantastic mix of ladies, each with her own story and something to contribute.

Some members have lived in Dakar for many moons and others are new arrivals. Some are absolutely head over heels in love with life in Senegal and others, well not so much… Some seem to live and breathe DWG, while others join just for the perks or to promote their own businesses and hunt for new customers.

In the DWG you’ll find some of the most hard-working, dedicated, passionate, enthusiastic women you’ll ever meet. And you’ll also meet some women that you totally don’t click with and drive you bonkers.

Who should join the Dakar Women’s Group?

If there is a hobby you’d like to pursue or charity focus (education, healthcare…) you would like to become involved with, you should join the Dakar Women’s Group.

If you have just arrived in Dakar and are looking to make friends and get connected, you should join the Dakar Women’s Group.

If you have been in Dakar for a while and many of your friends have just left so you’re looking to meet new people, you should join but Dakar Women’s Group.

If you work at a busy job and travel a lot but would like to participate in some charitable activities in your limited free time, you should consider joining the Dakar Working Women’s Group which organizes its activities in the evenings and on weekends. 

If you have a business that you would like to promote among expats Dakar, you should NOT join the Dakar Women’s Group if that is your primary motivation. We will find you out quickly – and we won’t be happy about it.

Did you know the DWG publishes the Dakar Guidebook? It’s an excellent resource for expats, whether you’re new in town or have been around the block in a couple beat up taxis. It’s also a great place for businesses to advertise if they want to reach the expat market. 

If you do not have time to attend meetings, participate in fundraisers or volunteer at events, but want to make a 25,000 cfa donation to local charities and get the monthly newsletter, sure go ahead and join the DWG.

3 ways to make the most of your DWG experience

1. Show up to the first meeting ready to commit to several hours of volunteer work. Remember this is a charitable organization the end goal of every event is to raise funds for local charities.

Did you know that last club year the Dakar women’s group raised 20 million CFA for 11 local charities? Yeah, pretty impressive. Unfortunately the executive committee also spent a lot of time dealing with members who joined just for the perks and were not willing to participate or volunteer of their time. Yeah, not cool.

2. Join a Club or Class. These smaller groups are where the real connections and friendships are made. So whether your interest is art, learning a language, knitting or preserving the environment, you’ll be able to meet others to pursue it with.

3. Read the email newsletter. Like really read it. Key dates, upcoming activities, directions to meeting places, financial info… It’s all there. (The executive committee members are already overloaded in their responsibilities of running an all-volunteer group of 300 members. Don’t email them to ask a question until you’ve read the newsletter.)

How to get involved

The first meeting of the 2016-17 club year will be held at 9:30am on Tuesday, September 20th, at Terrou-Bi Hotel. A Newcomer’s Coffee will also be held on October 4th.

Membership information and other details can be found on the DWG website. Be sure to check out the calendar!

Diarama

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Getting my leather sandals repaired on the side of route de Ouakam. He gave me a loaner sandal and a stool in the shade while I wait. Sometimes life in Dakar is just beyond fantastic.

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Also getting a free Pulaar lesson while I sit here.

My summer rules for the kiddos 

Summer spots

1. You may watch either one hour of TV a day… or two hours if the show/movie is in French. Eh oui !

2. Spending money can be earned. See the list of jobs and pay rates posted on the fridge. (Follow-up rule: You may buy as many lollipops from the buutik as you want with your money, but may eat only one a day.)

Summer Camp crafts. I am loved by a 4yo boy.

3. I will take you to Summer Camp in the morning and somewhere to play with other kids a couple afternoons a week. When you are at home, create your own fun. Continue reading “My summer rules for the kiddos “

Giving life

This morning as I finished running and came back into our neighborhood, I saw one of the homeless men digging in a large barrel trash can.

He waved. I waved. I recognized him as the mute man we used to see walking in the morning. 

He went back to picking through garbage for a split second, then looked up at my sweat-drenched self again. His face lit up and he reached into the canvas shopping bag on his shoulder and pulled out a glass bottle half-filled with water and motioned for me to drink if I wanted to. 

I raised my hands and clasped them in front of my face, sending back a wordless Senegalese greeting and thanks. 

We all have something to give, something to share. 

10 commandments for life in Senegal

1. You shall have no other name but the Senegalese one given to you. (Don’t have on yet? Just ask. But be prepared for it to stick!)

2. You shall not make or do anything with your left hand.

3. You shall not take good water pressure or steady electricity for granted.

4. Remember the Friday afternoon prayers and don’t plan on getting any business accomplished during that time. #weekendstartsearly

5. Honor your elders. It’s more important in Senegalese culture than I ever imagined.

6. You shall not show leg above the knee.

7. You shall not comment on how cute a baby is lest it attract attention from evil spirits.

8. You shall not steal from your neighbor’s side of the rice bowl.

9. You shall not lie and tell beggars that you don’t have any money. It’s more polite to say, “Baal ma, beneen yoon.” (Forgive me, next time.)

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s horse cart, water reservoir or generator.

Respecting Ramadan and our fasting friends

sm Khady praying

“Oh, that smells awesome. I’m so hungry!”

I said it without thinking and immediately wished I could have swallowed my words before they made it out of my mouth. Today was the first day of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, and less than six hours into it, I had already goofed and said something rather inconsiderate in front of my Muslim friend who was abstaining from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset for the next 29 or 30 (depending on the moon) days.

The conversation that followed though really helped me to understand some ways that we as non-Muslims can respect Ramadan and our fasting friends. In a country that’s more than 95% Muslim, Ramadan is a big deal and affects nearly every aspect of life for one month a year. Continue reading “Respecting Ramadan and our fasting friends”

Welcoming hot season with open arms…

… and an extra swipe of deodorant. ‘Cause it’s here y’all. And its friends Humid, Muggy and Piercing Sun will be along soon.

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But in case you need a few reasons to get excited about the arrival of Dakar’s brightest season, here you go: Continue reading “Welcoming hot season with open arms…”

How to throw (together) a party in Dakar

Wax-print bunting
Hanging this up instantly upgrades any get-together to a party. Minitecture makes it in many different prints and color themes. Keep a few on hand and you can set the tone of the party easily.

Zena drink mixes
I picked up a few bottles of their ‘sirops‘ at the last Lou Bess? Farmers Market and they immediately became a staple around here. I love the ginger and tamarind syrups (alone or mixed together), but will be trying more of their ready-to-pour flavors soon since there’s another farmers market this Saturday! Just add water and voila! It’s even easier to make than Kool-Aid and tastes way better… with Dakar flair.

Contact info for Simone Café, Melo Patisserie or Pause Douceur.
These lovely ladies and their bakery & cakery skills will have you covered, whether it’s a last-minute coffee party with a few friends or a big she-bang for your whole crew. Simone also offers a catering menu and the most adorable, perfect baby shower goodies.

Ice & bucket
This may be super obvious to those who frequent gas stations regularly, but since I just started driving myself around Dakar and actually going to Elton stations and such, I didn’t know that you can buy ice cubes in big ol’ bags there. Now noted. You know, in case I throw (together) a party. And those big plastic tubs used for laundry work great for chilling drinks that are easy to grab.

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Photo booth
Hit the fëgg jay market for the accessories and Rafet Décor for the frame – made from up-cycled pirogue wood for a Sénégal touch.

Piñatas
Oh Dakar, sometimes you truly amaze me. Yep. You can complete your fiesta with a hand-crafted piñata. You can fill it with candy from the American Food Store, and while you’re there…

Disposable tableware
The American Food Store in Almadies has Solo cups, paper plates, plasticware… and don’t forget the garbage bags!

“Can I wear this?”

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This muslin fabric with embroidery is pretty, right? It could be made into a lovely, lightweight summer dress or top that would be wearable in hot season. That’s what my friend thought too. But she was very perceptive in noticing that although this fabric is easily available in Dakar, it’s usually only seen for tying babies on backs.

Wise woman that she is, my friend asked about the fabric’s appropriate use over on the Gazelle Skirt, a blog and Facebook group on fashionable living in Senegal. The answers came rolling in and were in agreement that the cloths are used for tying on babies but also as slips, nightgowns of a sort and some even have rather, ahem, interesting uses between the sheets. But the question remained: would it be okay to have a tailor fashion this special-use cloth into everyday clothing and then wear it around town?

There the opinions ranged from “Probably shouldn’t” to “Well I guess you coooould…” to “Go for it!”

And that’s when I got tapped on the shoulder to write about the choices we make to dress culturally appropriately or venture (boldly or naively) out of bounds. Continue reading ““Can I wear this?””

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