21 December – Kossouka, 8:29pm
Today I finally got tired of waiting for my CSPS staff and CoGes members who keep saying they'll come take me around, but not knowing where to go I ended up at the CSPS and tried to talk to people. I think it...could have gone better. I guess I'm not a horribly curious person, or maybe I'm just afraid that my questions will come off as totally “spy-ish” since I'm new, so I just kind of sat there. I greeted a number of people, and the old women in particular were very sweet and receptive to my greetings, but they don't speak French and I don't speak Moore, so we kind of left it at that and I moved on to the next building. I sat around with some mothers and their babies for a while, but really had nothing I could say beyond asking for one of the baby's name. She said he was naase but he looked much too small to be 4 years old – my host sister Mamu at 2 ½ (in theory) was much bigger than him.
I finally saw one of the CSPS staff, whose name and position I'd unfortunately forgotten, and asked if I could do anything, but he was just doing consultations and suggested the maternity. I walked to the next building over and greeted the men, then the women who were sitting on the other end of the patio area, then spent a good deal of time being laughed at for not knowing Moore. At least, that's what I took it to mean, since one woman in particular would look at me, look around, and keep saying something about not understanding Moore and not speaking Moore, leading me to the impression that I would clearly never learn to speak Moore if I couldn't understand it. While this is true, having her repeat it over and over wasn't doing wonders for my desire to speak or understand it. I tried speaking with them in French, but that just elicited more laughter and no responses in either language, so finally I said goodbye in Moore and French (more laughter) and moved on to the third building.
I exchanged some greetings, but didn't poke my head into the consultation room to interrupt and see if I could help. I ended up looking at the French and Moore in my notebook for a bit, copying down the map of our aire sanitaire, (the area that uses our CSPS) and feeling utterly exhausted I went home and proceeded to take a nap. After lunch I started another book and hid until about 4pm when I ventured back out to the much less crowded CSPS. I ran into the same guy I did earlier and ended up looking over the birth records for the last month, which was surprisingly interesting. I also sat and talked with him for a while and it was so nice to finally just get to speak with someone who I could understand. He said that Thursday is vaccination day, which sounds like a good thing to show up for, and when I told him I might want to be a midwife he said that soon I'll be doing the births all by myself. I sure hope not! I don't think PC carries liability insurance for when the nasara drops your baby and it dies. Just saying.
Interesting things on the birth records – there were 40 from 12 Nov to 12 Dec. All women but one were excised 1st degree, the one who wasn't was recorded as “normal”. They give babies an APGAR score even here – score one for the MHC alums! All babies either started as a 7 and went to an 8, or started as an 8 and went to a 9, except for the one born dead who had a 0 for both. The age range of mothers was from about 17 to 46, and a fair number of the older mothers had lost a child and/or had some kind of disparity between number of pregnancies and number of births. There were a lot of abbreviations that I didn't understand and I'm really looking forward to learning how to fill this all out. Some were carefully recorded and seemed relatively complete, others were obviously in a hurry and hardly legible – I should have looked to see if that had any correlation with the time of day the baby was born.