Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Iki and Smile Train

July 3rd

Another day of Polio campaign. We were supposed to meet at 5:30 at the CSPS, but the rain that started at around 3am (forcing me to quickly move my tent inside) and was still going when my alarm went off, so I went back to sleep. To my credit, I did re-set the alarm and peak out at the CSPS at the appointed time, and upon not seeing anyone in the drizzle, hopped back in bed. I was woken up a bit past 6 by Binta knocking and calling my name. As I was unzipping the tent to get up and go to the gate, she came around to my window to peak in! Oh dear.

We went to Iki, a village I hadn't visited yet. There aren't very many people, but all of the concessions (a cluster of houses, all part of one extended family, usually linked by walled pathways and/or sharing a common courtyard) were impressively large and well maintained, and I noticed that several of them also had very elaborate raised graves for elders, not just with signs but also with fancy black and white metal fences around them. Apparently all of the small children live in one huge concession – most had between 4 and 10 kids under 5, but one had 35! When they say it takes a village to raise a child...

I had a really nice moment today at the CSPS with the AVs (village midwives, who advise women in their villages and bring them to the CSPS to give birth). They were asking me questions and speaking to me in Moore, and I was actually able to at least hazard some answers to a few of them, but once it got to be too complicated I was rescued by some of the women on the vaccination campaign arriving. Koka explained to them that they were confusing me with Lauren, who was here and did speak Moore, with me, who is new and still learning Moore. She put it in a really nice way, so that all the women were very sweet and positive that I would learn Moore and they were glad I was here. Small but happy.

I had brought a Popular Science magazine with me and opened it up, feeling a little guilty to be kind of blocking myself from interacting with people, but they were all speaking Moore and the meeting looked to not be starting anytime soon. Lo and behold, my magazine started attracting attention immediately, and got passed around and started a lot of discussions – it was really neat and felt nice to share a little bit of 'me' with the ASVs and my staff. They were particularly fascinated with an ad for the Smile Train, the group that uses donations to perform surgery on kids with hare lips and cleft palates. Sali and the major kept telling me that there's a group in Ouaga who does that – those kids in the photos just need to come to Burkina! No one here has that problem, because NGOs take care of it. I pointed out that this was possibly the same NGO that does the surgeries in Ouaga, but that part didn't seem to sink in, that the NGO operating in Ouaga can do so because it solicits donations in the advertisements of American magazines.

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