We finally arrived in Gomi, and then continued another 15 minutes or so on bumpy dirt roads to the village of Binabougou, where the whole village had turned out to greet us, lining the streets. Mike Clayton was trying to get there with the bus of expedition people by 1:00. We got there first (it was about noon), so we got the big welcome with 100s of children lining the bumpy dirt road.
They had banners that said “Welcome to Binabougou! Happy to Meet You!” at the school and down the hill in the mango grove where they led us. They all followed and we were introduced to the village chief and his son, the town mayor, the griot (the town singer who is supposedly very famous) and the village drummers and dancers.
For the next 1.5 hours they entertained us there under the mango trees. It was shady and nice. I counted more than 20 very large mango trees in the grove and there was a small stream behind us. This was the village gathering place. They sprinkled the dirt with water to keep the dust down, and the dancers came and did tribal traditional dancing. 2 or 3 men were in the scary masks and grass skirts and did crazy acrobatic dancing which sometimes scares the little children. I think there were about 300-350 people there, mostly children. They don’t see many white people that far out.
I was seated next to the village chief. The other 2 Elders arrived in another taxi and we all had the seats of honor. They were so happy to have us there. John and I were even pulled out into the center to dance while they beat their drums. It was fun. But an hour and a half was a long time to keep the excitement up.
Taking a picture of me taking a picture of her!
Finally Mike and the others arrived. I think they had to leave the bus behind and walk into the village (bad roads), and then the dancing began again with new fervor.
Mike and his 2 nephews want to do a water purification treatment system in this village. They also want to help with the school in someway. Our group meets for church in the school, which was up the hill from the grove.
Mike and the doctors brought a donation of food for the village–they unloaded several totes and bags of rice and beans and maybe corn for the villagers. Good will. Right now we have 4 members Nouman, Shaka, who is the director of the school, Julien Doussou, and Maria Imbile. Then there is Rose’s family of 5 about 15 minutes away. And the Elders are teaching a Balo family of about 5-10 in the compound.
We met a wonderful man named Joseph Diarra, who teaches at the school. He was so kind and helpful the whole day. The Elders were able to set up an appointment with him for when they come next Saturday. I hope he’ll be interested in learning.
The community drinking pot:
Elder Lewis found a little friend:
After Mike’s group left (they only had an hour to be there, heading next to the Artisan’s Market, then to Amadine’s), we said goodbye to all our new friends in the school yard and we walked up the hill to visit and teach the Balo family in their compound.