Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Price of Rice

I recently called two friends from Senegal to let them know I'll be coming to town soon. I thought I'd share a little bit about my one friend, Ngone.

My one friend, Ngone, happily reported that her husband is back to work. He earns about $30/month working at a hotel in the capital city. It's not nearly enough money for them to live well, but with the extended family they live with, everyone pulls their resources. A few months ago when her husband was out of work, she called with an urgent need for money to pay for rice that is so crucial and a staple for their everyday life. You may remember that there were world-wide riots and protests when the price of rice greatly increased recently. A store-owner had given my friend's family several huge bags on credit, but it came to a point where they were getting desperate. I offered to send her some money, which I did via Western Union, but before I could do that, she asked me to call the store owner to explain that I was going to help her out. It was a very interesting conversation since the man spoke no French, and my Wolof skills are very weak and basic. I managed to say something like this in wolof, "Ngone is my good friend. I live in the United States. I am going money Senegal. I am going money Ngone. Ngone is my good friend." Not the greatest telephone exchange, but I think it assured him that she really did have someone in the United States who would be helping her out. I am looking forward to being able to see her, even if only briefly, to see how she is really doing.

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