Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hello Again

My father told me on the phone last week that my “readership awaits”. Apologies, readers. When I was in Dapaong two weekends ago, I had little motivation to write about my activities in village. I think I’m at the stage in my service called What Am I Doing Here? At least, I hope it’s a stage.

I spent a lot of mornings at the clinic this month, recording kids’ weights and names. Then Bila, one of the clinic workers, and I visited some of the kids at home to conduct surveys with their mothers. All this is in preparation for a Hearth program seminar in Benin next week. More on the Hearth program if I can actually get it to work in village. It’s basically a program that teaches mothers how to prepare various nutritious meals for their children. And as we’re in the famine season, now would be a great time to do this. Unfortunately, the rain is also starting. Rain means fieldwork and fieldwork probably means everyone stops coming to any activities I plan.

Not that attendance is high in the first place. I finally had eight girls show up for a sex-ed class this Wednesday. Perhaps I could get a bigger crowd if I said, “We’re going to talk about sex!” Or maybe it would scare everyone away.

Bila and I gave a talk on family planning to about 27 women in the market. Three or four ran away when I showed a picture of man putting on a condom. The ones who stayed until the very end, though, were very adamant about the benefits of birth control. Then this week, the imam’s wife, who missed that talk but apparently heard about it, came and asked me about natural methods. I told her what I could but encouraged her to visit the mid-wife for more info.

Life in my compound has been… troubled. The younger girl, Hanatou, decided she no longer loved me this month. And she started whine-crying (not real, I Just Fell and Hurt Myself Crying, no, I’m Not Getting My Way Crying) at everything. Lately, she’s started greeting me again and has stopped crying when I say her name. There’s still the occasional wailing incident, though. I like it best when that happens around 1 a.m.

Two weeks, ago, the village soccer team spent the night in our courtyard. The school director, who lives in the compound, coaches the team. He also helps out with the girls’ team, which has now fallen aside since the men’s team seems to be in season. Thanks a lot. Anyway, the guys had a game on a Wednesday, so that Tuesday night the whole team plus many more men crowded the compound. I’ve been sleeping on a cot on my porch because it’s too hot to sleep inside, but I spent that night in the house. They had a game again yesterday, but Saibou (nurse counterpart) told me he told them that they couldn’t sleep at people’s houses. So they slept at the school.

Finally, Hanatou’s parents have taken to extended shouting matches. One took place just before my last trip to Dapaong. At the time, I suspected Mr. might have hit his wife, Alima. This Tuesday evening, they started up again. They shout for a while, he leaves, she rants at him in his absence. On Wednesday morning, they were at it again, full force. I have NO idea what they’re saying, because it’s all in local language, and not a local language I know.

So I had just bucket-bathed and was getting ready to go to the clinic when I heard scuffling. Because I’m nosy (let’s call it concerned), I peeked out the door. She was holding a wash basin over her head, threatening or defending, but definitely yelling. He was walking away. Then she yelled something, he 180ed, knocked her on the ground and his arms started flying. I ran out in only my pagne wrap (so, basically a towel), yelling, “Hey! Hey! Stop!” and what I think is his name. The old lady in the hut next door also ran over, and after a small eternity, he stopped, walked towards me and said, “Awa, c’est fini” (it’s finished) over his wife’s yelling and my, “I don’t know what you’re fighting about! C’est pas bon! I don’t understand!”

I still don’t know what they’re fighting about, but even if she’s saying terrible things about his mother, it’s not ok to beat your wife. I know I should probably mind my own business, but when it takes place in my courtyard in broad daylight, it becomes my business. Fortunately, he’s been traveling to Lome a lot, giving us some peace.
And that’s the news from Sagbiebou, where there are more mangoes than the women can sell, but still no toilet paper.

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