Friday, March 11, 2011

it's been a year already? another one to go...

so senegal has a bunch of random animals and none of those that one would immediately think of when one thinks of africa (ie lions, giraffes, rhinoceros, etc). like the hedge hog for example. what an extremely cute animal.

when it feels threatened, it curls itself into a ball so that it's completely thorns out. ingenious!

we totally want to keep one as a pet but our dogs will probably harass it all day every day.

anyway, on to more important things... like work! my causerie series project has to do with maternal health so i thought, hmm maybe i should buy that book what to expect when you're expecting. turned out to be a not so helpful book. it talked about blood tests and ultrasounds - none of which you can get done here - and tons of lifestyle advice that is completely irrelevant to my village. sometimes, the book is so ridiculous, or rather the questions that other people ask are so absurd. there was one where the woman says, "i dont like it when my co-workers keep touching my swollen belly. what do i do?" TELL THEM TO STOP. duh. idiots.

the other day, the gendarms (local police) pulled over our bush car for being "too full". i couldnt stop laughing. when has any vehicle in this country been deemed too full?! ive ridden cars where multiple cows are tucked underneath my feet. a "too full" car just cannot be. a bench can usually sit 4-5 people. being senegal, a lot of the times, it becomes 6. we were at 7... 8 if you count the child sitting on a woman's lap. i had half a butt cheek on the seat, and was just clinging on for dear life at the end of the bench. there were people standing where feet dangling space shouldve been. babies were arbitrarily crammed into any available crevice. the back of the car couldnt have been more hilarious. things were literally 2 inches off the ground. everytime we hit a hole, things scraped the ground. yeah, i guess the gendarms were right. the car really was too full...

fresh vegetables is when your sister walks into your garden at 11am, picks a couple of tomatoes, and you eat it for lunch around 1:30pm. that's called fresh. they were delicious. satisfaction of having eaten something grown by my own two hands - achieved.

random thought: why wont USAID come work in my village? they have so much money! but i guess my village is not ready. the health post is dysfunctional. and im starting to think a large part has to do with the doctor. the other day, he prescribed someone both ibuprofen and paracetamol, which are essentially the same drug- fever reducers and pain relievers. when i asked him why he did that, he mumbled something, said i was wrong, and walked away. pressing the matter is useless. we've had this kind of interaction many times and he just avoids confrontation... how senegalese. but maybe it's not entirely his fault. i also blame the system. the doctor's salary is covered by the government but the salaries of all the other health workers are not. the matrone (midwife), the health agent, the drug dispenser, etc etc etc. - all their salaries come from the money the health post makes, some from consultations but mostly from the amount of drugs sold. and since there arent many patients to begin with, there's a lot of pressure to prescribe as many drugs as possible.

sometimes, it makes sense though. when a patient comes in complaining of diarrhea, the doctor has no way of knowing what has caused this diarrhea since he cant submit stool samples and get lab results. it could be a bacteria, a virus, amoebas, giardia, worms, or something else. so he just treats for all because hey, one of the drugs is bound to work right? the patient will get ibuprofen for pain, cipro for possibly bacteria, metronidazole/mebendazole for giardia or amoebas or worms, and maybe another dewormer. i guess it's also a way for the health post to make money from a simple case like this. this system is terrible.

happy note: my family finally tried using the mud stove i built and they like it! granted, they jam the opening with a million sticks so it's not really saving any wood like it's supposed to but hey, baby steps. in the beginning, there was a huge conundrum with the one wood policy. i couldnt get the wood to stay lit and i felt like a terrible eagle scout. but the lone piece of wood had no companion! it was just burning by itself. i just couldnt get it to stay lit long enough to boil water. my sister somehow was able to make things work better - granted she used smaller sticks and many of them.

it's really cool watching the fire get sucked up because of the air current and physics and all those other factors that go into why this mud stove is better than an open flame.

i do have a small problem with it cracking in varies places but ive decided that i will build another one because the first one was just a practice run. i didnt pay too much attention in breaking down the clay or picking out the pieces of random wood from the millet chauf, or letting the stove dry fully. this time, i will pay much more attention. it will be a beautiful stove that will not crack.

causerie #1 (out of 6 or 7) has finally come and gone. my main project for my village has begun and boy is it stressful. you would think getting 18 people from the surrounding villages to come to my village would not be so hard, especially with some money as incentive! but no. nothing is ever easy. if something were actually easy and worked out smoothly, id get nervous and feel weird about it. there was also (or i had) a lot of hatred for the government pre-causerie because the couple of days before my scheduled event, the power decides to just not come on all day. and when there's no power, there's no cell phone reception. and that is especially true out in the pulaar villages in the middle of nowhere. i couldnt make phone calls or remind people when to come. luckily i had a decent showing. 7 of the 9 villages were present, which is... quite good.

phase 2 of the project will be harder. my counterpart and myself will now be visiting each village in the coming 5 weeks to make sure that the health workers are talking with their villages and relaying the message/causerie. this first one was on the importance of prenatal and postnatal consultations and why women should deliver in a health structure and not their own huts.

i wonder what it's going to be like when we get to STDs, and HIV/AIDS and family planning, ie. condoms and other contraceptives. these are such sensitive subjects... it will be exciting!

now in town for some internet usage even though the electricity is out all day and im forced to be nocturnal and work during the night when the electricity comes back on. we made ourselves chicken salad and garlic fries with local ingredients. it was actually really delicious. but hot season is slowly upon us and that means less and less availability of vegetables and choices in the market. this will not be good. bye bye tomatoes. bye bye cucumbers. bye bye lettuce. sigh...

oh, and i have now been in africa for a year (just about). march 2010 doesnt seem that long ago but so much of my life has changed. what an unreal year it has been, stuck in this twilight zone across the atlantic. but this also means the new kids are here! they have just arrived and are now in thies learning about the culture and beginning to study languages. how surreal...

No comments:

Post a Comment