African Sponges

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

I discovered that my parents had brought to New York African sponges which, originally made from fishing nets, were known for their flexibility, exfoliating abilities, and reusability. They are still made in the fish net style but with nylon material, are about a foot long, five inches wide, and come in an assortment of colors. In many parts of Africa, people do not have showers unless they are rich or part of the upper middle class. African sponges ensure that the grime accumulated can be thoroughly removed without as much water. Neither of my parents had bathrooms until they were older and their family had houses, but they did have sponges, which many people have access to in Africa. Despite learning they would have every item available to them in New York, my parents were unsure if they would be able to find the sponge in America, so the sponge became one of the important items that each of my parents held onto during their journey here. African sponges cannot be found in any drugstores in America. They can be found in African Markets and are very expensive to purchase in America, but in Africa, they are cheaper. I believe if my parents did not value the use of the sponge and its tie to African culture, my siblings and I would not have used the sponge since childhood, yet it is something that I have used every day of my life so learning about how and why it came to America with both of my parents explains exactly why my family has continued to use the African sponge.

Place(s): Africa

– Marlena

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant