Here in Senegal, we are in the middle of the month-long celebration of Ramadan. This means that for the next month, all Muslims who are physically able will be neither eating nor drinking between 5am and 7pm. This includes Master P and a large majority of the members at Diapalante, and I have been fasting along with them most days! For me, it has been both an amazing opportunity to better understand Islam and a great way to feel close to the community. However, not eating or drinking at all during the day obviously has several consequences for the centre!
First of all, we have changed our opening hours. Like before, we still open at 11am. However, as nobody will be cooking/eating lunch, we no longer close for lunch time. Instead, we have an hour’s rest at 2pm, when no lessons are taught, but the centre is still open. We also close a lot earlier, at roughly 5pm, to let people get home in time to break the fast at 7! As well as practical reasons, the reduction in hours has another advantage; during Ramadan, everyone is (quite rightly) a lot more tired than before. Fasting all day can increase fatigue and decrease concentration in both pupils and teachers, and lots of our older students are also doing exams at school! This means that the members, although still keen to learn, are often very exhausted. To distract them from their hunger, we often play some simple and fun games, like Ludo and maths colouring in during the quieter periods!