I think I might be coming down with a cold. I'm kind of at a loss as to how I should go about fighting it off. It started this morning, just that feeling of your nose being kind of thick and congested at the back. No coughing, no nasal drip, I've been sneezing a lot the past few days but that could easily be the dust I'm inhaling day and night. At home I would drink my orange juice and try to avoid contamination, but I have no orange juice or vitamin c or zinc or any other placebo-inducing pill I can take, and I work at a health clinic and am greeted by dozens of children every day, most of whom probably never wash their hands.
Today we got right underway at the maternity, it was actually quite impressive. Sali and Alain (I finally learned the name of the intern!) weighed and took blood pressure, Belem and I did the exams and the paperwork, respectively. Once they were finished outside, Alain took over the exams, Belem went to the other room to do the post-natal consultations, and I handed the paperwork over to Sali so I could bike out to Ecole D. I timed it perfectly, I pulled up just as they let out for their 10am break, and talked to the director. We planned for me to come back next Tuesday afternoon to talk to the APE about moringa and give them the seeds, and he told me about a giant “recitation” happening tomorrow at Ecole A with students from all 14 schools in our district. Not sure what it involves, but I'll go and say hello at least.
It was fun being back at Ecole D, the director is so nice and the other teacher, Janine, was back from her maternity leave. She named her son “Oswald”, all I could think was “that poor boy”. It's not a name I've heard here before, but living in a Muslim village I don't get to hear many non-Muslim names so I guess it could be really popular in other places. I realized this afternoon why she looked so familiar when I first saw her at the school – it's because I met her at Sylvie's house when she was still the Major here! It clicked today when the director told me her name, and when she told me that Sylvie is posted in OHG now, and I remembered eating attcheke with her and Sylvie's little sister and telling her that I had a friend in the US named Janine. Now I know why she was so friendly the first time we met at the school. Functionaires here have amazing maternity leaves – 3 months with your family, you can bring your baby to work, and you officially have up to an hour and a half of breaks each day to nurse. In the US I think you get 2-6 weeks? And nursing at work?!
I went back to the CSPS as the break was finishing, watched Mariam do a very impressive IV insertion into a severely dehydrated and malnourished child (I couldn't see a vein to stick the needle into, but she apparently did), then went back to the maternity side of things and helped Belem with post-natal consultations in the birthing room (thankfully no one was in labor). She did a Jadelle insertion for the woman who had the stillborn twins, I really wish I could have understood what they were saying to each other in terms of if she had wanted the babies and why she was choosing to wait at least 2-3 years before trying again, if ever. Granted, from an American perspective having 4 living children by the time you're 30 sounds good enough, but that's still a relatively small family size here and she would be expected to have more. By the time they're 40 and on their 12th pregnancy (as one woman today was, although 2 ended in miscarriages and 1 had died so she “only” had 8 living children to care for) they look so tired and worn down.
In the afternoon I got some water for laundry tomorrow, and just as I was getting out of the shower I got a call from Sali, which is very unusual. She said she was at home, that her mother had come to visit. I had been hoping to lounge around in my pagne after my shower, so I reluctantly took that to mean I should get dressed and go over. I did and it was a lot of fun! I didn't stay for dinner (the sauce sounded quite tasty until she said that the first two ingredients were soumbala and powdered dried fish) but I greeted her mother, talked about cooking, foods you can and can't find in the US (we don't eat bean leaves, for example, but do have beans), her trees (one is malnourished and needs to be de-wormed, the other is beautiful and you can see how much it's grown in her years here by the laundry rope that got stuck in a groove and is now high out of reach), and looked at photos including a few of Sali with Lauren, and the ones I gave her. It made me so happy to see them there, to know that I'll be remembered. What I need to do is take photos of me with each person and give it to them so they can prove they knew me :) She and her mother spent a long time on the photo of Mom and I with some of my nurses, pointing out how similar we looked “like sisters” with our glasses and short hair and big smiles.