Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Polio and Child Visitors

July 2nd

It's funny, Sylvie was easy to call by her name, but I don't know what to call my new major – everyone just calls him “Major”. I guess I can stick with that – he seems ok with it. I guess that might be why people persist in calling me nasara. It's crazy annoying, but I can think of a number of people who get called by their job or title, so I guess that could be seen as my “job” - I'm the foreigner, the nasara.

The latest and greatest Polio campaign started yesterday. The major mentioned when I got back that one was going to happen, but when I showed up at the CSPS yesterday morning he asked why I hadn't gone with any of the teams. The campaign started already? I love it how people tell me things after they happen and then ask why I didn't show up. So I got up this morning and arrived a few minutes before 6, as I was told, and discovered that everyone had already left at 5:30! When we have a meeting scheduled for 11am, it doesn't start until noon or 1pm, but suddenly when we have to meet as the sun comes up, everyone is in a hurry? The major came out of his house and told me everyone had already left (I gathered) and he took me to meet up with one of the groups. I went with Binta and Issac to Napalgue, a village so close by that you can't even tell you've left Kossouka (and, indeed, the neighborhood of Kossouka closest to it is also called Napalgue, just to add to the confusion). We finished quickly, and sat around with the other two teams for the village before, at some signal I didn't catch, it was decided that we were leaving. We stopped to pick raisins (they were small, grew on a tree, and the seed was nearly the entire fruit, but I guess it tasted kind of like a grape), which was fun although I felt bad taking some random person's fruit. Clearly we weren't the first ones – we had to bend branches towards us to find ones that were ripe.

I had child visitors today! Nice ones, that is, in contrast to the other day. Sarata came by to say hello, helped me pull a few weeds and promised to take me shopping for bug killer tomorrow to take care of the infestation in the section of my hangar that blew down months ago, so that when I put it back on it won't infect the rest of the roof. I realized that without the cats I could leave my gate open (I guess now I'd probably do that anyway since they're bigger and vaccinated), and as I was sitting reading while the sun was setting, 4 boys poked their heads into the yard. Normally seeing groups of young boys makes me a bit nervous since they tend to be the most obnoxious with their teasing of the uncomprehending nasara, but these were the sons of some functionaire (a government employee, educated in the city and sent to work in a village) and they were really quite sweet and patient with me. The smallest boy stood and let me hold his hand in mine for a few minutes, and when they left he kept looking back over his shoulder at me and smiling. The oldest boy said that during the summer they help at a boutique nearby that sells paint, so I asked him to come back next week and take me so I can start painting my house. He's in the 6eme and wants to practice English, so I said if he'd help me with Moore we have a deal. :)

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