I had a unique and fascinating childhood living in the North Sudan, America and Egypt. My parents were agricultural missionaries in the 1920s and '30s located at Gereif near the Nile river and about 5 miles from Khartoum, the large metropolitan capitol of the Sudan in Africa. Dad was an agricultural teacher to Sudanese boys of High School age and Mother interacted with Sudanese women and when my older sister Becca and I were old enough she home schooled us. Becca was a brilliant non-conformist child so Mother was delighted when I fit her idea of a well behaved, compliant child.
We would accompany our Mother when she went to visit her nearby Sudanese neighbors. Immediately a stool would be brought out for the Sit (lady) to use and several minutes would pass in salems or greetings. Then our hostess would rush into her dark mud house with the baby crawling on the dirt floor to chase a chicken out from under the bed to retrieve some small glasses to be used for the Sit and her two blond daughters. The hot tea was made in the yard on an outdoor charcoal stove and poured into her special tea glasses. Becca and I loved the very sweet hot tea but not Mother who worried about germs. The climate played a big part in our daily routines since this dessert temperature reached 90 to 115 degrees most months of the year and we had no electricity. Our home was built to capture the evening breezes and so our mornings were pleasant with dinner at noon and normal activities resuming after a three hour siesta.
In our free time, Becca and I would visit and feed Becca's many pets, wade in the irrigation ditches or ride her pet donkey Seba on many adventures such as visiting the Sudanese teenager running his families water wheel by the Nile. Becca was fluent in Arabic and I could say most words. In fact to this day many years later I can still say in Arabic “ Please I would like a cup of water.”
A month long trip took us to the US every five years for a year's sabbatical. Other travels came every summer as we found a cooler location . I loved going to Alexandria Egypt to a missionary compound near the Mediterranean sea where we had many playmates, At our home in Gereif we had no Sudanese children to play with as they were put to work at a young age..The trip to Alexandria Egypt took five days by trains and Nile river steamer. We girls were sent to a boarding school for missionary kids in this large city when I was going into fifth and sixth grade and then to Allentown Pa to live with my grandparents and start seventh grade. On the trip to America I was accompanied by a great aunt and when I discovered in Rome that her memory was failing I realized that for the rest of the trip though Europe I needed to be in charge of my Aunt Sade.
I moved to Meadville with my husband Hank and the oldest three of our five children in 1956. We were blessed to have landed here with the town's excellent services and ethnic diversity. I am also grateful for the broadening cultural experiences of my early years in Africa.
Peg Weymer has lived in Meadville for 66 years. She taught Home Economics at Conneaut Valley High School, was an antique quilt dealer and has been active on several community boards.