Showing up at the office in Mauritania was great. The Nationals had just finished Ramadan the week before. The celebration of ‘Eid-al-Fitr is the last day of Ramadan. I asked what they do on the last day and they celebrate by visiting family and friends with large meals. Sounds like our Christmas.
The greeting I received from the Nationals was really welcoming. Lemina, the only National woman put her hand out to shake my hand hello. May sound like nothing, but it is a cultural step. When women are dressed in their Mulafa you never offer your hand to them. Lemina walked up to me, dressed in her Mulafa, and put her hand out to shake mine, telling me she missed me. It may sound like a small thing, but to me it was a warm gesture. They all told me they had missed me.
Fridays the Nationals work until noon, because Friday afternoon starts their Call to Prayers at the mosques. Some of the men come to work (casual Friday) dressed in their Draa, or boubou. Sidi Mohammed remembered I have a son and told me he will get me a boubou for Alex. El Dramé’ was in his African tribal clothing which is a long tunic and matching pants, both in a beautiful dark purple fabric.
Working with them, teaching them what I can about mining and procurement, as well as about me is the best part of this assignment. To think that at the end of the two years, I will (hopefully) had an impact on them and their professional futures and the future of their country excites me. I know I will come home learning as much as I have taught. They are such a hard working group, wanting to do a good job, it will continue to be invigorating and exciting to work side by side with them.
The pictures I have added to this chapter are, unfortunately, just stock photos to show the traditional Mauritanian clothing. The women’s Mulafa is one continuous piece of fabric wrapped around and over the head. The men’s Draa or boubou is a large flowing robe. It is considered rude to take pictures while we are traveling in the van with the guards. I will, however, ask the team if I can take pictures of them personally to show my family and friends in the US.
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