Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Name Game

The cooks at the village call me "Mother". The children call me "Mrs. Veneman" or "Mr. Veneman" or "Mistress Veneman". The Mamas here call me "Sis Barbara". The people in the neighboring villages call me "Oma" (for Old Ma. That used to hurt my feelings, until I was informed that it is a sign of respect. OK, whatever! It still is painful!). The guards just call me "Sir!"

My real name is Barbara. My parents named me Barbara with the intent of calling me "Babs" as they liked the cute nickname. And so, since birth, I have been called "Babs". Only the bank, creditors, and telephone solicitors called me Barbara.

Until I came to Africa.

Liberians have a difficult time pronouncing "Babs" so I soon learned it was easier to introduce myself as Barbara. It made life smoother, as when I call myself Barbara, I do not have to repeat my name several times as confused people try to pronounce that odd, foreign name of "Babs". Barbara is a name that is more familiar to them, although it is not real common in Liberia. The nationals we see regularly call me "Sis Barbara".

(Where is she going with this, you wonder.) Well, Melvin, our social worker, had a baby. A sweet baby girl who is four months old now. She is darling. And Melvin named her "Barbara". Hm-m-m-m. We are not sure how this works here, but we might be on the hook for four years of Liberian college tuition someday! Rats.

On the other hand, I think Barbara Kiazolu is a good name! She could go far with a name like that.

Wishing you a wonderful day, without creditors or phone solicitors!
Sis Barbara