When I was travelling through W. Africa I met Quan’s ‘African brother’, a certain Yeah Samaké, local DJ of Ouéléssébougou, English translator extraordinaire and all round good chap. We’d sit around his family’s concession (there may be an old posting here about it) drinking tea, eating round the bowl, listening to the Muppets and French rap on an old stereo hooked up to a car battery and playing chess. His family were extremely poor, and used to spend much of their time under a huge mango tree preparing meals, chopping wood, chasing away goats and chooks, and washing clothes.
They greeted all of Quan’s friends with the same warmth and kindness, and I felt very at home there. I was only in the village just over a week, but it has stuck with me. It’s not every day you get to see that side of people’s lives!
Recently Quan revealed that Yeah (pronounced Yay!) has long moved on from Ouéléssébougou. After studying for his English translation degree he got sponsorship from a family in the States. He now has several qualifications from Brigham Young University in International Development, Public Policy and christ knows what else.
He’s now found a lovely woman, just had a kid, moved to Salt Lake City and is now Executive Director of the Daily Dose Foundation, an NGO providing educational programs to villages in Guatemala and Mali. He recently met the president of Mali, and has plans to return to his home country one day and become president himself! Quan has absolutely no doubt that this will happen, and so do I!!
This gives me such a warm, squishy feeling. If you’d seen where he’s come from, you’d know what I mean. The picture above is how I remember the school in Ouéléssébougou. A lot of other schools I went past in Africa were just a group of kids and a teacher under a tree. As I lack a charity (indeed I am one myself) and considering I’ve met the bloke, I might donate to the Daily Dose and help out in some way.