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Women's Basketball Blog From Overseas - Day 8

By: Princeton Athletic Communications
          Release: 09/09/2011
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The team in front of the Pouponniere de Mbour.
Courtesy: Princeton Athletic Communications
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Day 8 (September 9)

Today is our last day in Saly. This morning we went to the artisan village in town. I think we are all pretty much experts at the act of bargaining now. Everyone is very anxious for you to see their shops, as they don't see people like us everyday. They are also so generous, putting bracelets on your wrist and saying "cadeau" - gift in French. These are people who have nothing and are giving you gifts because they are the friendliest people. I personally made out with four bangle bracelets, a shell bracelet and a wooden hippo, all as cadeaus. We bought other wood carvings, jewelry, sarongs, woven baskets, quilted bags and more as tokens of our trip and as gifts for our families.

We had lunch at a relatively new resort called Residence de Obama, that had a carving of President Obama on the entrance. The rooms, pool and other areas were still being built but the restaurant and beach side area were open. We had lunch right on the beach under some umbrellas, and had time to chill out on the lounge chairs after lunch.

After a quick stop to our hotel we headed to the orphanage in Mbour called Pouponniere de Mbour. It was a heartbreaking but something we'll never forget. We split off into two groups and took turns in each room. There were four rooms, the first with newborns, the second with infants, the third with toddlers and the fourth with older toddlers. The nursery was crib to crib with flies covering mosquito netting. We immediately started to pick up the babies that are crying. There was a pair of two-week old twins whose mother had died giving birth. The rooms started to get harder to leave as you went along. We spent time bonding with one or two infants in the next room. The last two rooms were difficult. The kids ran to you with their arms up, wanting to be picked up. They would clutch your shirt if you tried to put them down. Everyone in our group had two children, one on each hip, and it still felt like you weren't doing enough. The last room was the hardest, because the other group wasn't following, so when we left the kids were crying for us and banging on the door.

Our tour guide Ouseman brought us to a farewell party his family was throwing for us. He has a very large family with seven brothers and two sisters, which is normal here in Senegal. We all sat in a circle while musicians played and his family danced and pulled us up to dance with them. Many of the kids ended up on our laps by the end of the party. They loved to dance with us and wanted to be close to us, standing in front of us smiling until we patted our lap and they climbed up. A few of the girls would stroke our hair telling us it was beautiful, or examining our painted fingernails. They just make us happy, knowing they are happy.

At our final dinner at Hotel Teranga Saly, the mayor of Saly came to greet us and to say thank us for visiting his city. It was quite an honor.

We all went to bed early to prepare for our final day in Senegal. We'll visit Lake Retba, known as the pink lake, and drive back to Dakar to play our second game against the national team.

Q&A with senior Lauren Edwards

How was bargaining in the market?

Bargaining is always a little game, you want their goods and they want your money. You don't want to get ripped off but you want to give them money so they can help feed their family. You want to see all the shops with scarves, wood carvings and things you can't find anywhere else. I hope everybody took advantage of that and got souvenirs for their families.

What was your impression of the orphanage?

It was touching to see all the young babies and toddlers without parents and in need of just a good hug. To play with them made their day. Every time youd' leave them it was hard, because you built a bit of a relationship with them.

Did you bond with any child in particular?

The first baby I held Emmanuel. When we walked in the room he was the only one sitting there not crying. I sat with him for 20 minutes. And he had the cutest face.

What was your favorite part of the farewell party?

The sense of community is incredible. Just because you don't have luxuries or access to a lot, doesn't mean you can't enjoy your family and respect your children and parents.

What has been your favorite part of our four days in Saly?

The clinic was my favorite part. It was really nice to see so many kids willing to learn and better themselves. They were respectful of us and we tried to return it the best we could.

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