Djiby playing a djembe made at Malika Monkeys

Travel back with me eight years to my house in the Senegalese village of Miname. Odds are pretty good that sitting on the porch is Djiby Ndiaye, the chief’s 14-year-old grandson. He may be making attaya (tea) on a small grill, using the First Aid kit to bandage up little cuts and scrapes on kids from the neighborhood, or listening to Bible story cassettes on an old tape player. But like I said, the odds are good that he’s there on the porch – for one reason or another.

Djiby (in front) and friends playing in our truck in 2003

After we left Miname, Djiby was able to go to Malika Monkeys, a trade school that takes in young Senegalese men and trains them in practical skills such as drum making, wood and metal work, sewing, basic business skills and reading and writing in Wolof. These skills can be used to support themselves and their families throughout the program as well as when they leave.

Djiby's handiwork: the bags on display

So the equation you’ll see developing here is:

I really wanted to see Djiby again
+ We wanted to visit Malika Monkeys
+ They sell cool crafts
= day trip to the village of Malika!

The building that houses Djiby's workshop
Djiby was chasing the girls around with this chameleon. Maybe he hasn't changed so much... 😉

It. was. awesome.

Seeing Djiby-all-grown-up was, of course, great. (He sends his greetings to you, Roxaya!) We spent the morning getting a tour of the trade school (drum-making, sewing, metal working, wood working) and also the crafts they’ve added (jewelry, painting…).

Cloth in Djiby's workshop
Walking around the Malika Monkeys compound

One of the things I absolutely loved was that so many of the crafts recycle things that would normally be considered trash: scrap paper, aluminum cans, fabric scraps, glass bottles, etc…

Djiby showing us an advent calender they recently designed. There are carved wooden nativity pieces that attach to the cloth, and can be moved to the stable as Christmas approaches!

You can download the 36-page Malika Monkeys catalogue here.