Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Halloween in Mali

October 31, 2000
Mainly for the ex-pats and other families working in Mali, the American Embassy and our school hosted a Halloween trick-or-treat. Homes of expats and around the Badalabougou area volunteered to be a place where the children could stop for treats. The school was the starting point and also had candy. I decided to go and help out at the school, partly because I knew they would need help and also because I have not gone to one of the 2 "supermarche" stores in well over a month. 

Kids (mostly those who attended our school) began descending on the school entryway, accompanied mostly by their parent(s) and sometimes by a driver. A few used commercially-made costumes, but many had more creative, individually (perhaps by one of the local tailors) made costumes. Or, they simply improvised with the clothing or materials they had at home. Of course there were quite a few witches, some ghouls and vampires, and a few dressed up as cats or dinosaurs in full costume. Some had makeup on as well. Children were carrying the plastic pumpkin containers or plastic bags It was quite the sight - all the kids in costumes walking through the terra-cotta dirt road - past the goats eating leaves or grass, and past the local people. 

For the locals who don't even understand the whole concept behind Halloween and trick-or-treating, you can imagine why they had looks of either puzzlement, surprise, and perhaps more. Why, when you really think about it, would any sweet child suddenly wear plastic fangs in their mouth, garish makeup, and a dark costume. As I began handing out candy, I noticed the local children. Some were playing soccer (they have to be careful where they are playing, for if they hit the ball too far in two directions, the ball could land in the open sewer) and others were either standing around, playing with the handmade toys, or helping at a local produce stand. Knowing that they probably haven't had candy in quite a while (and certainly not Halloween candy), I brought the bowl closer to a few. At my urging they each took a piece. Well, word soon spread, and I was giving a way quite a bit of the candy. You should have seen their faces though - it was if they were given a precious gift! 

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