Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dirty Nasara Hands

February 9th

Another sensibilization today, my 4th, at Ecole C for the first time. It went better than I could have hoped! We were missing several people, so I re-arranged the groups, sending 5 off to Ecole A (with a wish and a prayer that it would go ok – at least Collette had been at the last one there so she'd be able to explain it to everyone), and taking 4 with me (including the engaging Kimdaogo, who I stole from the other group) to Ecole C. We were greeted by lots of curious children, and 4 teachers stayed to help us. One ASC (Abdoulaye?) helped explain how it had worked well to have the kids all sit outside so we could teach to all three classes at once, and after a bit of confusion (Is it too cold? Could we do it indoors?) the teachers had the kids sitting in a 3 sided square, with us as the 4th side sitting at several child-sized desks that had been brought outside for us.

I took Emily's idea of “dirty Nasara hands” and did a quick demo before we started. I introduced myself, then started by saying that it's very easy to see dirt on white nasara hands, so I was going to show them why it's important to wash your hands really well. I bent down and rubbed my hands in the dirt, coating them in a light tan layer. I then said “Ok, I'm going home to eat dinner. Can I eat with hands like this?” “Noooo!” they cried. So I got out my water bottle and awkwardly poured some over each hand, creating a nice dark mud. “Ok, I've washed my hands with water! Now they're clean and I can eat, right?” “Nooo! You have to rub them.” “I have to rub them? Ok, like this?” I add a little more water and smear around the mud, which admittedly is lightening a bit and I don't get too into rubbing for fear I'll rub it all off. “Ok, I've rubbed my hands together – are they clean yet?” Some yes's, some no's, so I walk around and show them closer. I ask – “Do you wash your hands like this?” They say no, but I've never seen a kid or adult who doesn't wash their hands like this – pouring a little water into one, rubbing the two together, repeat twice, and you're done, right? So I ask “Ok, what do I need to do to be clean?” One little boy who speaks French yells out “Use soap!” “Yes, exactly – I need soap!” So out comes my soap holder, and I proceed to demonstrate adding water, scrubbing the soap all over my hands and between my fingers, and rinsing with the running water. Ta-da! Clean nasara hands, complete with giggles and applause.

The ASCs take over at this point, and I never get over being amazed and proud of them. Today was a little short, but most of them were really engaging and one (Daniel?) even brought toothpaste and soap to show the kids! The super tall teacher was really into it, going on for nearly 10 minutes after we'd finished, expanding on what we'd said. I don't know if any of it got through, but it was fun and I really enjoyed myself. I was effusive in my gratitude to everyone, and they seemed to appreciate that. Either that or I was annoying and embarrassing them, but the sincerity was real so I hope they knew that.

We got back to the CSPS to discover the people from Ecole A. I asked how it went and got a “pa soma ye” (not good) from Souleymane. I asked what happened and they said that the kids had left. Normally kids don't have school on Thursdays, but they typically show up anyway, and if the teachers tell them to come on Thursday they do. I sent them over at 8:20, hardly late at all by standards that count 2 hours late as being on time. They said that the teacher told them to come back tomorrow. I was worried about imposing on their time on a marche day, and asking them to come back again after a fruitless morning, but they seemed very willing to return, cue more grateful praise and gratitude from me. (Note – they did all come back and our sensibilization went very well. The reason I was surprised that they'd be willing to come back another day is that they usually get paid to do work like this, but I'm asking them to do it for free.)

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