3 February – Kossouka, 8:29pm
The trip back to site was the easy part. This morning I went shopping with Sarah and Karey Kelly, two awesome volunteers from the stage before mine who kind of reminded me a bit of Caitlin Pritchard. I changed my mind at least 10 times about going home today, decided on a yes and got Harouna (my new favorite taxi driver) to whisk me to the STAF station where he helped me find my bus and haul my giant bags on board. I will call him again and even overpay him if it means he continues to be so incredibly nice and helpful! The trip was long and dusty, and then I couldn't get any water once I got home because it was after sunset (solar powered tap) and the pump was locked. It was hot so I drank most of the water I left and used just a little to wipe myself off from the dust – a shower would have to wait. Lesson learned – don't worry about the water molding, do not leave all the water containers empty.
It's been a hard transition back to village life, and I was really caught unprepared. 5 days was just too long to be away, and being in Ouaga meant being around lots of Americans, to the point that it was hardly necessary to speak French at all, let alone Moore. I got off the bus and had to fumble for the evening greetings in Moore (since hardly anyone speaks French), and suddenly the French-Moore melange that my CSPS staff speak among themselves seemed even more confusing than normal. I totally understood Shannon's reasons for not wanting us to come to Ouaga during our first 3 months, but I don't think she has to worry – we'll come in when we have to or if we have a very compelling reason, but I can't imagine making a regular habit of it if the shift back to living in village is this...abrupt.
Lucky for me, my transition back was helped by having a job to do. We started a malnutrition campaign today, funded by Terre des Hommes. I found out that health agents in the villages get per-diem for doing stuff like this, which was kind of discouraging as I don't have 30,000cfa to drop every time I want them to do something with me (although, granted, I hope I won't be asking them to go door-to-door in every single village). What kind of ideas can I bring to bear on the problem that's better than going to check every single child for malnutrition? Our team in Napalgue only found 3 who qualified as being moderately malnourished, and one of those turned out to be 4 months too old to qualify for the target group (59 months or less). It was frustrating that this child, small enough to still be malnourished by younger-child standards, was basically ignored because she didn't fit the criteria. I did realize logically that they need to reach out to the most vulnerable population and that they can't afford to help every single child in need of more food, but it was still really sad even though it made me see an opportunity to maybe start a project in the future.