5 April – Kossouka, 9:04pm
National News: Apparently the declaration of an annee blanche depends on students missing a certain number of hours of class time before the minister of education can begin to decide yes or no. If strikes would continue to the end of the week, they would meet the hours. If they go back now, they have to learn two trimesters worth of information in one, knowing that little to no real work will happen the first week as people get back into the swing, plus most students actually stop going to classes in the last month or so of school because they're needed to help plant the family fields. While an annee blanche would be terrible in a lot of ways, at this point it's likely that most students will fail their classes should the year continue, forcing them to repeat the year anyway. In secondary school you can fail a year once and transfer to another school to take it again, but after that you're done with your education if you don't pass. With an annee blanche, the year is erased and started over, no harm no foul. But if they don't declare it and kids who have already failed once fail again because they just weren't in class to learn the material, their education is over, unless they pay to go to private school in a big city. Basically, it's a bad situation all around, but a fair number of people think that it would be better for students if it were called.
My News: Today was a good day. I wandered over to the CSPS around 9, as usual, and had a decent conversation with my new major, who was actually in the process of fixing mistakes in the monthly report. I was convinced I was the only person who ever looked at them after they were (half) filled out, but here he was correcting the total columns, moving numbers so they lined up in the right boxes, and checking to make sure things were consistent throughout the report. What? He also showed me a section I had always ignored because it was always empty, but apparently the CSPS itself is supposed to be doing sensibilizations to teach people about health topics, and there's a place to report the number planned and the number completed for each month. I mentioned my surprise and asked if he could inform me of any upcoming ones so I can observe and learn how to do my own. He was incredibly enthusiastic and said that not only will I be observing the sensibilizations, but I'll be going on the vaccination sorties to the satellite villages (you know, what David has been assuring me for months he will do but then fails to tell me when he's going until after he comes back). I'm trying not to let my hopes get raised too high, but I'll admit that this is very encouraging.
He then took this all to mean that I'm too bored, so he called in the midwife and told her to make me weigh and take the blood pressure of the women who come for their pre-natal consultations. Well, that wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but it'll be nice to be useful, even if it means getting up earlier (I'm going to miss not having to set an alarm, but life is about compromises). I sat in on the rest of the morning's consultations, read some more of the obstetrics book, and went home for lunch. I played with the cats and called a few people, and then after the repose was over I went to the library.
Have I mentioned how amazing my librarian/counterpart is? He found me the written history of Kossouka (7 pages of handwritten Moore) and then told me the story - once I type it up for my Etude I'll definitely post it here because it's quite the incredible tale. He then taught me about the traditional fete's held by the different groups here, and a little about traditional customs and spiritual beliefs. After a good 2 hours (with interruptions to greet the gendarmes, students, and teachers who showed up) we called it an evening. I'm making an effort to try and be more social and bien integre, so I started by asking if I could come and greet his family sometime this week. He seemed delighted and we decided on Friday morning – he'll come get me from the CSPS and take me to his courtyard, and then I'll meet him again that evening at the library to go do the stations of the cross (for my first time, in Moore) with his church group.
If that wasn't enough of a good day, I then went back to my CSPS to say hello, even though it was already about 5:30pm. I was having such a good time with the major and our two interns that I ended up staying until nearly 7:15pm, well past sunset, because they were all so nice and engaging and wanting to help me learn new things about medicine and Moore and Burkina in general. What a difference! We had a late arrival patient, but since it was the father of the adjoint mayor we all went and the major did the consultation. Not only did he do a decent exam and create lots of teaching points for the interns, he did a malaria rapid test and when it was negative he did not prescribe malaria medications. While that seems pretty obvious, the vast majority of people who get rapid-tested are negative for malaria but still get that as part of their diagnosis based on their symptoms and are given the pills to treat it. I was so impressed I almost hugged the man, especially for teaching such a crucial lesson to the interns – when you have the technology to rule out a disease, it's a waste to treat for that disease when the test is negative.
So it was a lovely day, a lovely evening, and then I came home, showered, made garlic mashed potatoes while listening to the news, and typed a bit while drinking my tea under the starry night sky. *happy sigh*