Update August 2012:
With 3 months of service left in Senegal, I’d prefer a donation made to one of the projects I am currently involved in (accessible via the DONATE tab above) to a care package. Thanks to everyone who has sent me stuff in the past!
I know care packages can cost quite a bit, so even if the following is out the question, postcards and letters are great! Write your return address on whatever you mail so I can return the favor. Check out the “CONTACT” tab for my mailing address.
And honestly, I love SURPRISES. Heck, even if you sent me an empty box with some cryptic code written on the insides that I’d have to decipher with my hands tied behind my back, I’d be ecstatic. I love a good challenge.
Toothbrushes and Toothpaste: Dental care is sorely lacking in my village of Temeye-Thiago; nobody in my family owns a toothbrush, they rely on a tooth-stick instead for their dental hygiene requirements. Multiple toothbrushes for adults, and kids would be thoroughly appreciated. I intend to conduct basic brushing instructional classes at the local school when it opens up again in October 2011. Email me if you’re interested in helping to make this a reality!
English Learning Books for French Speakers: Well-written guides on how to learn English would be handy to have here, since I get approached by so many people who seriously want to learn it. Any hints or tips on how to teach people with little to no schooling in English would be very useful to me as well, especially since teaching a language is something I have no experience in.
Articles and Books on Vegetable Gardening in Limited Spaces, Sub-Saharan Africa Sustainable Farming Practices, Permaculture Techniques using Low-Cost and Widely Available Inputs, Low-Cost Drip Irrigation Systems, the Politics of African Aid, and Behavior Change: As mentioned above, emailing me articles related to these topics is greatly appreciated, and if copying and pasting the content into the body of the email versus attaching a PDF is possible, that would save me a lot of time downloading attachments when I do get access to the internet.
Information on Moringa Oleifera: A lot of my work revolves around promoting consumption and production of Moringa Oleifera, so any and all information on production, processing and marketing it in a foreign market is eagerly anticipated. At the moment most of the information I have is based on The Miracle Tree, a collection of articles edited by Lowell J. Fuglie and printed in 2001 by the Church World Service.
Markers and Pens: The amount of ink I can get out of a pack of locally purchased colored markers is generally enough to fill in the space of a name-card. I intend to make several Moringa posters to place in schools and health posts, but the time it took to make one thanks to the agony of coloring has made me put off that enterprise for now. The colors green (in various shades), orange, yellow and black are what I need, though a full spectrum of color will just result in more illustrated awesomeness. Similarly, a long-lasting, dependable pen is a rarity in Senegal, and I always seem to lose them after a particularly bumpy sharet ride.
Video-uploading information and capability: Too cheap to buy video-uploading capabilities here on http://www.wordpress.com, suggestions on other ways to upload video would be much appreciated. It took me a good 20 minutes to upload a 6-second video to YouTube the other day. Any information on how to expedite the process given my limited bandwidth would be much appreciated, and will result in video content on this blog!
Seeds: I would love to try planting different summer fruit and vegetable varieties that thrive in extremely hot temperatures here, along with flowers. Some non-indigenous varieties that other PCVs have tried out include jalepeno peppers and collard greens. Lettuce, cabbage, tomato, squash, hot pepper, carrot, onion, eggplant, cucumber, okra, beetroot, chinese turnip, bitter tomato, cassava, banana, watermelon, honeydew, passion-fruit, guava and mango are some of the types of produce that are eaten here on a daily basis.
Band-Aids and Mosquito Repellant: I never seem to have enough of these things, given my propensity to get staph infections and my unnaturally tasty blood to mosquitoes across the continents of Asia, North America and now Africa. Your average band-aid for a cut finger is the size I use most. Many thanks to Christabel Sim for sending enough band aids to see me through thousands of paper cuts and infections! Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Wash: Not only a great shampoo and body-wash, this stuff doubles as a detergent too! Something I used exclusively back when I had dreadlocks, I neglected to get a bottle before beginning service.
IN DIRE NEED OF (SOMEWHAT)
Contact Lens Solution*: I have found contact lens to be less cumbersome than glasses in Senegal, though the Peace Corps advises against wearing them. However, a bottle of Renu costs about 4 live chickens here and can only be purchased in the cities of Dakar and St. Louis. You do the math. Special thanks to Thomas Canu and Rachel Burger for sending enough solution to last me the rest of service, plus plenty of other useful items I didn’t mention in this list but now have: knife sharpener, zip ties, a set of screw keys, and a cold pack, not to mention an Adbusters magazine. Congratulations on getting married—wish I could attend the wedding! Duct Tape*: I can never have enough of this stuff in my life. From holes in hoses to tears in tire pepinieres, your average urban agriculturalist is a much happier person with a roll of this stuff in their arsenal. Black is my preferred color, though if you want to be a smart-ass and send me other hues of the rainbow, I won’t complain. Special thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Lieberman for this contribution! Rechargeable Double-A and Triple-A Batteries plus Charger*: Something I was unable to get before service, having this in my life would save me the grief of using disposable batteries for my camera and head-lamp. If I had a dollar for every time I see a child sucking on a used battery he found in the trash here, this list wouldn’t be here. Gillette Venus 3 Razor Refills*: Shaving somehow keeps the skin infections at bay, but I am perilously close to reliving the feminist 70’s again. Even Senegalese people prefer their toubabs hair-free, though curiously enough, the only thing local women appear to shave is their eyebrows.
Specific Books and Magazines: Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo, Switch:How to Change Things When Change is Hard, The Straits Times, The New Yorker, National Geographic, Gourmet Magazine, Newsweek The Peace Corps libraries have proven to be more than substantial for my needs.
Music: Mix CDs are sorely lacking in my life right now. Sending me new music or even just recommendations will be reciprocated with Senegalese selections—believe me, you will not be disappointed.
Dried Fruit and Nuts: Apricots, plums, prunes, mangoes, raisins, pistachios, cashews… Always a welcome reprieve from rice consumption.
Chocolate: Milk or dark, bitter or otherwise, I miss a good chocolate bar (save white chocolate). I will imbibe all cocoa-infused products with great vigor. Oh, what I’d do for a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup right now…
Beef Jerky: I am as surprised as you are. I never touched the stuff before, but somehow the thought of rawhide and salt sounds very appealing to me. As does bacon, but preparing that in a predominantly Muslim country would pose various problems.
Conditioner: Not readily available here, this stuff would be a godsend, saving me a lot of time (not-to-mention hair) when combing. Liquid Eyeliner*: The arid heat of Sub-Saharan Africa dried out my only tube of eyeliner. Generally the only make-up I wear when I do put any on (about once every couple of months), your general drug-store Maybelline or L’oreal brand variety would be greatly appreciated.
*If you have sent me one of these items, email me so I can take it off the list and avoid the remote possibility of being sent too much of something!