During the past weeks we spent an increasing amount of time with local Senegalese families. That means, going there without a set goal and just 'passing the day'. This has been so nice in so many ways. Some examples ...


The concept "family" is intruiging, one person explained it as an elastic band which you can keep stretching.

(Extended) family members can come and go, they are free to join for meals and stay for the night with the family for as long as needed. They are not expected to pay nor contribute in any way. A family cares for its members unconditionally.

Even after our short stay here, we have built up enough trust in a few families where we can just show up and join for coffee or food should we feel like it. This is, in our percpetion, unimaginable in Belgium.

For example, in the Mbaye family (Mballing) one person makes a large pot of coffee in the morning. When everyone wakes up they trickle in and sit down to drink coffee. Some people will get some breakfast and share with whoever asks or needs. When Dries goes running in the morning, he also stops by the family to drink a cup of coffee and have a chat. You come and go as you please once you are part of the 'gang'.

This goes as far as money too. When somone in the family earns money, it is shared with all family members. For example, when Liesbeth's colleague gets her monthly wage (paid in cash) she returns home and hands out money to whoever needs it. She holds on to the rest. Everything is shared.

When a member of the family goes out, is home late or is ill s/he can be sure that any children are taken of by others. Food gets cooked and laundry gets done.
In our perception, this gives so much peace of mind knowing that people truly care for each other in a way that it is not "forced" or "according to contract".

There are, however, critical sidenotes to be made.
First of all, the division of tasks is very gender based. Women should do women things (cooking, washing,...) and men do men things (fishing, building,...)
Secondly, the hierarchy in a family is super important. Younger brothers or sisters should always listen to the older brothers - this is regarded as showing respect to older family members.
Lastly, there are some other very clear rules ... which we still don't grasp fully.

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Roeckoe 🐦

Home to the Roeckoe family & some friends