Thursday, March 1, 2012

January - Back in village

-From January 15th: Having the weekend back in village to clean my house and reflect has made me realize that this new year can mean a big shake up in my life here. The last time I got back from the US, in May, my CSPS was terribly under-staffed, just 3 of the usual 5 workers. I started to help, and eventually became a fixture in the maternity, helping every day. Even when we got new people a few months ago I stuck to my position, helping them learn our routines, still being the main person filling out paperwork and organizing supplies. Two of our nurses will be leaving sometime in the next few months, and right before I left we got another new nurse (temp or permanent I'm not sure), but as it stands we have an unbelievable 8 nurses to do the work that used to be done by 3, and now that malaria season is over there's less work to go around. The upshot of this for me is the scary yet exciting opportunity to stop working at the CSPS. I enjoy routine. I like that I had a place I was expected to be every morning because it got me out of bed and out the door and even if I did nothing else for the rest of the day I still felt I had been productive because I'd spent my entire morning helping. But it has been increasingly clear that I'm no longer truly needed – there's only one room for the morning pre-natal consultations, and with all 4 of us plus a pregnant woman that little room felt pretty cramped.

So now I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do for the next year of my service. The Moringa Project with the schools has suffered yet more complications, so tomorrow I'm off to talk to each director and revise my schedule of sensibilizations – with any luck we might be able to start next week instead of this week as we'd planned. The grant for the fencing still hasn't gone through, so Emily has switched to having the kids build their own out of sticks. Since I already ordered enough for 100 of my 200 trees, I'm holding off on planting until the money comes in and then we're going to alternate “real” fencing with student made fencing and see if there's any effect on the trees (totally unscientifically, since we aren't controlling any other factors like the number of times the students remember to water their tree). On Tuesday I'm going to go with Boureima, the CoGes treasurer (and my counterpart from that workshop way back in stage) to visit the barrage, the lake where people grow vegetables during the winter. Sometime this week I want to meet with the ASCs to talk about what we're teaching this month, hygine and nutrition, so that we can come up with a list of things they think it's important for each team to emphasize and figure out if we need any supplies.

Then I'm really looking forward to getting to know people better. I'll do school sensibilizations at least once a week, but with my free time I can visit the mayor and the prefet, try to track down the money that's supposed to be paying into the library, visit my satellite villages and get to know the ASCs and teachers in each one (and maybe plant a few more moringa trees along the way). March is our VAC meeting and the COS conference for Super Stage. April is my birthday. In May I'll be taking another vacation, to Paris and New England, and Emily and I are talking about short trips around Burkina to visit friends during June and July. I believe our COS conference is in August – crazy. September we're planning a science camp for middle school students – I've volunteered to help and I'm so excited! October is the arrival of the new health stage, with any luck I'll get to help, or at least host some PCTs on demyst. November is the start of our COS process, if my projects are finished I could be home in time for Thanksgiving 2012. Wow.

-Read two books in particular this month that were informative, readable, and moving: “The Fate of Africa” by Martin Meredith, and “And The Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic” by Randy Shilts. I would absolutely recommend them both.

-I re-planted my garden, but everything that sprouted was immediately eaten by lizards! I bought a mosquito net and started using pieces of it to cover things as they grow, but right now I'm only growing moringa, basil, and cilantro, a sorry cry from January when I was also growing tomatoes, eggplant, wildflowers, green beans, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, onions, and tomatoes. But now that I'm traveling a bit more I don't want to leave as much work for Marina, my neighbor, when I ask her to water for me.

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