So Many Peanuts!

Samuel Parson - Senegal


January 13, 2012

If you give way to the mind’s stream of flowing consciousness, then you’ll surf through to the waters of enlightenment.

I really love to write because writing is in many ways and for many reasons, a great form of expression. So on this day I sat with my laptop while snacking on some peanuts and wondered,  ”What will my next blog post be about? Man Sam, this breeze feels so nice,” one peanut fell down into the sand beneath my feet. Not wanting to waste one grain of alimentation, I picked it up, brushed off the sand and ate it. Amazing right? Well after my next handful of peanuts another one fell out of my hand into the sand (again!). It was then that I decided that I should make sure I ate the second peanut so as to make sure that the effort of going after the first peanut would be made worth the work. It’s like making sure I take every step forward without taking any steps back. Immediately I thought of a game of chess, where you take your opponent’s bishop, in knowing sacrifice of your own knight in order to progress towards the final capture of the king.

These two things are only indirectly related, but both can sum up a good deal of what my apprenticeship here in Beutlamine has taught me.  Though I have learned some skills in the time I’ve spent here, most of my actual work with my apprenticeship has been all observation. I go around to other villages with my older brother who distributes UN Millennium Goals health information, and sometimes I watch as he and his colleagues weigh babies to check for malnutrition. I even sit front-row at big inter-village meetings to inform the villagers on new and improved ways to store beans and grains over the seasons of work and rest, or watch as they give speeches on why high levels of sanitation really matter. The opportunity is fine but I’m not yet satisfied, so when the peanuts sang out to me, I realized what I have been doing and that I really need to keep persevering.

I think of how my health grows when I eat every peanut possible, and the risk it takes to win a game of chess with strategic elegance. Yes, I have taken every possible chance in my path that has shown itself in order to gain some work experience, but I’ve not yet found any big jobs or projects like I expected to find. I have of course tried to take some potential risk in trying to create my own ‘apprenticeship’ in Senegal; I have not yet been able to, like in chess, trap the king and earn his throne and crown.

Still, I have begun a project on the education and planting of a tree called ‘Moringa,’ which has tremendous health benefits. The tree actually grows Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and protein in it’s leaves. With malnutrition being one of the Africa’s largest health problems, this project has serious potential for growth in the field of agriculture, fruiting out into the sector of health. I just wish my villagers shared the same amount of enthusiasm for the project, because the men I work with keep telling me that we will start next week and then in another 10 days. Wish me luck with that one, will you?

Well whether or not those rebellious peanuts that rolled down into the sand did so because of some divine force compelled by fate, and whether or not the question of eating them all was a test driven by my will power embodied by a supernatural light, I am really beginning to see that there most definitely are as many opportunities to grow within yourself, as there are peanuts in this world. Who knows, maybe I was just hungry, but lucky for me I’m literally up to my head in peanuts here in Senegal, so I for sure have a lot of growing to do, for my soul, mind and belly (and hopefully Moringa tree’s too)!

 

Samuel Parson