By Margaret Wilson

We got to the village on the evening of December 28th, 2017. It was dark when we arrived and I couldn’t really tell where we were. I knew there wasn’t going to be any electricity or light, but as soon as I stepped out of the van I felt a different kind of electricity and I saw a different kind of light.

The elements I saw were the elements of the village and its people. The first people that stuck out to me were Fanta and Sirah, Kekouta’s wives. As I observed the women during our week in the village, I saw their electricity in their muscles. Their work started in the early morning, pulling up gallons of water for the day ahead. I watched their rhythmic pattern, one hand after the other pulling up a resource that comes so easily for me.

With babies on their back, they would continue their day’s work of heating a huge pot of water over a fire, cutting dozens of vegetables, pounding seasoning, and cooking sheep and goat. All over wood they harvested for themselves. In between and during preparations there was a constant song of Mandinka being spoken between the women.

At one point, I observed Fanta and Sirah lining up a group of little boys to be bathed. Each one would go to the shower covered in dust and come out clean and shiny. The energy that the women spent caring for the kids resulted in a happy playfulness between the children in the village and the Christchurch fam.

When the sun reached its high during the middle of the day, the women took the opportunity to take a break from their work. Then the day slowly melts into the evening. The glow of the sun transitions into a glow of fire.

The light of the people illuminates the electricity and the strength that is Ngognani.

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