In addition to picking up what I suspect is my first parasite of the trip. I spent the days coping with the inland +40oC temperatures, chasing goats out of my hut and trying to be social with a vocabulary of 150 odd words and the grammar of a stereotypical cave man. I will not deny there are momments I wonder what benefit is found in it all - in theory there is a quite a bit.
First, there is a massive significance of visiting and development of relationship in this culture. This time spent develops trust and respect which provide the foundations for any future partnerships. Secondly, understanding how people live and feeling their struggles provides insight to better help with resolving community needs and development. (This 2nd technique is commonly referred to as going to Gemba in efficiency improvements in lean manufacturing circles)
All said, as with any theory, it is not until you see the results that one fully appreciates its value.
I had one such momment sitting in my room hearing a young Fula man pour out his heart about his struggles support his aging parents, frustrations not being able to develop his language the way he wants to, his fatalism in the lack of opportunity to work or start a business and continual dependence for life's basic needs despite his best efforts.
As I sat listening, my mind drifted back to my recent experience in the village struggling to live in a system I didn't know, unable to communicate, not understanding what is going on or why things are this way and seeing so many things that need to change and not really knowing what to do about any of it.
Then I thought to myself, I may not be able to help with all of his problems but at least I have an idea about what he may be feeling.