Josephine’s House

In the beginning of my time here in Tafi Atome I lived in Wilson’s house with the other volunteers. Wilson is an older blind man who lives in one of the nicest homes right off of the main road in the village. He was very welcoming and always made sure we were comfortable in his home. He taught me many things and told many stories about the African culture. However, after 5 weeks of living at Wilson’s the students from the International School of Paris (which there were 27 of them) were coming for their 4th year and they always live with Wilson. So the volunteers from FSU had to move out and we were going to live at “Josephine’s House”. I only ever knew Josephine as the tough girl who on my 1st week forced me to play soccer with her and some other girls. She came off as very stern and it seemed like the other girls were intimidated by her. So that made me a little nervous on what to expect.
I now realize that after 2 weeks of living in her home with her and her family that I was completely wrong. Josephine has become like the little sister I never had and I absolutely adore her. She says the funniest things and is extremely helpful. We all joke around with her and something that she always responds to us is “you are lying” and “what” in this deeply accented voice. Another thing I’ve noticed is that she is a very hard working. She is up in the mornings around 5 am sweeping or helping her mother with things before she goes to school. After school she is fetching water at the river or walking a mile to her family’s farm to get firewood or other materials. Then at night she is cooking with her brother. It is very eye opening to see a 13 year old girl working so hard.
One thing I will never forget is the day I had gone to the river to wash clothes. It was my first time washing at the river because at Wilson’s we were able to do it in his back courtyard. It was a much longer process than I expected and I was struggling carrying the large metal bucket and my clothes on my head. I came back to the house already running late for lunch and told Josephine that I would be back soon to finish my laundry. I think she could tell I had been struggling because she laughed at me and nodded her head. I was coming back from lunch while she was leaving and she walked passed me then yelled back “Fifi is my best friend” and then she goes “you will see something at the house for you when you get back”. Knowing how she is I had no idea what to expect but when I walked up I saw all of my clothes rung out and hanging on the lines. She had finished my laundry even though I’m sure she had many other chores she needed to do. A few days later I was talking to Hannah about what Josephine had done because she had been with her and Hannah told methat she tried to tell Josephine that she didn’t need to do that because we don’t want her to do our work and that Josephine insisted and said “Fifi is my friend and that’s what we do”. I will definitely miss her when I leave.

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