Saturday, February 26, 2011

Happy Morning, Kossouka's Library

8 February – Kossouka, 7:58pm

This morning I was feeling all inspired from my lists yesterday and intended to head over to the CSPS to talk to the staff and get some recommendations on how to approach people around the village. Instead, I ended up meeting Rakietu. Rakietu is a grandmotherly lady, who initially greeted me with the same old conversation of “you don't speak Moore?” but with such an incredible grin that I couldn't help but stick around to see where this would go. With a little help from a younger woman who spoke French and Moore, we established that I wanted to learn Moore and Rakietu, still with her warm grin and sparkling eyes, started to teach. I don't really remember much of what was pointed out to me, but the process was delightful. She waved me into the cooking hut outside of the maternity, a comfortably warm room scented with woodsmoke that sheltered 3 mothers and their newborns from the wind. I was introduced to the babies (2 girls and a boy), and then we proceeded to name fire, water, pot, oil, wood, feet, hands, lips, eyes, clothing, breasts, and shoes in Moore. My immediate thought was that I wanted to adopt her as my grandmother, and perhaps I should be writing this all down. There was a lot of laughing, but it was so nice that it was laughing with me, in delight of my new-found knowledge and desire to repeat new, tongue-tangling words instead of the typical sense I get of being laughed at for my ignorance.

Rakietu was pulled away and I eventually drifted over to the CPN office to listen in on the pre-natal consultations and birth control shots. A group of men from the district office showed up and started a “hygiene inspection” which was clearly making the midwife nervous since she kept looking out the window at them while doing the consultations. After all the women had left, I went to sit outside and work on French when some men showed up and started sitting down. The first introduced himself as a teacher at the middle school, and we sat in companionable silence as more people started to drift over. Moussa showed up with a big group, and they all trudged into the maternity. When they came back out he introduced the other teachers to me, which was awesome. One was a guy who I see at coffee in the morning, so now I'm going to ask him to explain what people are saying to me.

The repose was nice – I could get used to this 3 hour break in the middle of the day. After a relaxing afternoon of lunch, reading, and talking to friends, I headed out to try and find the library. I actually, unbelievably, got to use the sentence “Ou est la bibliotheque?” with the guys at the photocopy building and they pointed me in the right direction. I was welcomed to the Maison des Jeunes by the gardian (I guess it would translate to the proprietor) and he introduced me to the gardian of the library and gifted me a Fanta. I was hesitant to accept it since a young woman taking a gift from a man can be quite suggestive, but he explained it was to welcome me and I decided to take it at face value – I was thirsty.

I talked with Simon in the library for a while, explaining that I was looking for books to help me with Moore and perhaps even a tutor. The books to teach Moore to kids here weren't very helpful since they're for teaching kids who speak Moore how to read, not to teach adults who can already read other languages how to speak Moore. But I showed him my list of verbs and he slowly helped me to fill in a few until I felt like we should probably stop so I could get a handle on those verbs before making him trudge through the next 3 pages. We agreed that I'll come back in a few days to learn a few more, and I paid my 500cfa to become the 149th member of the library and checked out a children's book in French and a book of African myths, also in French. When I go back to Ouaga I'd like to see if I can buy some cheap books for the library, or even some that are bilingual French-English for all the people who keep saying they want to practice their English. He was very nice, and I left with a big smile.

Overall, it was a good day. I kind of want to keep the momentum going and talk to the mayor tomorrow, but I'm not sure if I can just drop in. And part of me wants to go back and see if Rakietu is still around the CSPS. We'll see. I'm so excited to feel like I'm getting somewhere!

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