Le President

Mathew Davis - Senegal

December 19, 2009

My brother Aliou Leye is my mentor in Sangalkam. I feel lucky to have him looking out for me in the village. He works for the rural village of Sangalkam youth association.  In 2002 he started an organization called the Foyer des Jeunes. He started it in order to help students get into university, mentor them while through university, and then come up a detailed future plan for a career. When Aliou first started it consisted of over 10 students and now it involves 700 student which all the in community. Everyone in the village calls him “president.” Aliou has the entire 7th season of 24 on his computer and he always asks me about the 8th season but I don’t watch the show. Sometimes I think that Aliou is Jack Bauer.  I have noticed the way that other official in the village don’t interact with the community the way that Aliou does. Aliou and I have a lot in common because I started a student organization also. It was called the student alliance for education. As right it is inactive but hopefully the group can be reassembled. Aliou and I have already talked about working together in the future.

Having Aliou as a mentor has eased the transition from the city to the village. I had my own preconceived notions about the differences between city to rural life but they didn’t apply here. Not only because its Senegal but also the village lifestyle still existence in Dakar despite the urbanization. In the States it’s not that because the city life is deeply ingrained in to the American culture.  Aliou has been a huge initial help because he explains things to me but doesn’t baby me. He would first let me make a mistake then explain the realities of why that can’t be done in the village. For example, when I first moved to Gorom 2, I was eager to meet everyone in the village. I moved to little too fast and ate at a few too many houses and stayed out just a little too late.  No one in the village had a problem with it. Then I talked Aliou about the reasons why doing too much here could have a negative impact for me. I think my favorite Aliou quote is “I know the village, you don’t know the village”. When he said that I know he wasn’t talking down to me he was just being real with me and I appreciated it. That helped put things in perspective for me. I can see me and Aliou being homies for a long time.

Mathew Davis