Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Child labor...I mean, help

August 5th

Well, it's been a lovely weekend indeed. Both mornings it threatened rain and kept me from starting my laundry only to clear up later – typical! So I split it half an half, yesterday I did things that dried quickly and today obliged me by being warmer to help dry my heavier items. This morning I headed to the marche earlier than usual, around 9am because I was hungry but didn't want to have to go out more than once. I decided on a whim to buy my sugar from my usual guys instead of at the boutique like I'd planned, and as I was passing the veggie stands I noticed a beautiful, unusual sight – there was color! More than onions! In fact, I was able to buy some decent looking baby eggplants and some of those weird skinny lime-colored green peppers. I bought my spaghetti and tomato paste, got gallettes from Alimata and bread from Boukare, and headed home for a delightful relaxing day of laundry and house cleaning.

I received a weird text from someone I didn't know this morning, saying that they were in Kossouka. I was worried that this meant I was going to have some random person I didn't want to see knocking on my door. When someone did knock on my door around noon I was a bit reluctant to go open the door. But it was Juliette! She said hi, it was a bit awkward when we had nothing to talk about after the usual greetings, and then she started examining my garden. I pointed out the basil and lettuce and moringa, and then made some remark about all the weeds, that I keep pulling them up and they keep coming back so now I only pull up the ones in the garden. As I said it, I grabbed a few poking up near the basil, and she responded by starting to pull up great handfuls of the big weeds by my wall. Grateful for the help and motivation I started to do the same, expecting us to just do a bit before stopping. Well she was on a roll, despite my insistence that it was fine and she could stop. So we kept going until my yard was, while not weed free, certainly a lot shorter and less green than previously.

I sadly had nothing to offer in the way of a thank-you, my candy stash being all tapped out until I get the rest of it from my locker in Ouaga, but I did offer water to drink and wash her hands. She accepted the drinking water, but then headed out of my gate, saying she was going to get a daba to clean the rather impressive lawn of wild grass growing in front of my gate. I called her back and we managed to extract mine from under the wreckage of my hangar, and she went to town. Every time she cleared a rectangular-looking chunk I told her that was good, but she insisted on keeping it up. I was gathering up and disposing of the grass into my neighbor's trash pile, but then 3 other girls came up and they all started taking turns. Feeling very bien integre on the one hand, having petites doing work for me without being asked (!) and horribly exploitative, having small children feeling obligated to do manual labor for me on a warm sunny day when they, for whatever reason, weren't in their own fields. When they started making moves to dismantle the mess of my hangar (they're just young girls – that wood is heavy even for me!) I finally convinced them to stop by insisting they wash their hands and take 200cfa to go buy some cookies as a thank-you. I'll never know if they actually went, but I did say they could come back next week if they really wanted to help clean more. Maybe by some miracle my hangar will be back up (yeah right) and they can help me weed under it, they're much more motivated than I am, I usually get bored and stop after a couple square feet.

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