Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 8, 2010 Language Immersion Cont.

Ugh today- ugh! What a rollercoaster. Niger shakes me like a rag doll somedays and I just feel utterly unable to control neither what happens around me nor my emotional responses to those things. Ellie and I did a handwashing demo this morning at the school- it went really well, I think the kids got a kick out of it at least. After that, however, I ran out of patients. Maybe I’m a crank 6 year old – but grown ups need breaks sometimes too right? So after working all morning long on prepaing the demo and conducting it, when we jumped immediately into language class- I kinda blew a fuse. I clammed up, got grouchy and effectively shut off my brain. Following the hausa lesson, instead of having a lunch break we did a cooking exercise- so ne breaks then either, I thought I was gonna pop. I squeezed in a 30 minute nap after lunch and guess what, felt 5 billion times better.
A naming ceremony is a festival held 7 days after a baby is born, during which hey name the child, slaughter a sheep and hang out. We went to our 4th naming ceremony in 10 days this afternoon, which in itself says a lot about the fertility rate in Niger (the highest in the world- over 7 babies per woman). Naming ceremonies are very stressful events for me to begin with, because there are tons of people who all talk to you very fast and loud and tell you to take their babies back to America. Also, I am a huge form of entertainment for the women because I’m American, laughter follows about half of what I say. Ellie and I get treated like Nigerien style VIPs. This involves various activites including being served food that I am socially required to eat, but that will probably give me aemobas later. I have also found my self sitting in a dark room by myself, which is a great honor although slightly akward.
This was a very heart breaking ceremony for me. The mother of the baby asked us for medicine because the baby (actually 3 weeks old) is sick. The baby had a large bump on his head and was obviously dehydrated and had diarrhea. While holding this tiny tiny baby we tried to tell the mother in our best Hausa that she needed to take the baby to the doctor right away. The doctor is a 2 hour donkey cart ride away. I don’t know if she’s going to go or not. There is a mentality here that ‘God will provide’, and that if someone dies it is God’s will, that there is nothing that can or should be done to try to prevent it. For me- its too much for one day, heart overload- brain overload.
Tomorrow we are going to do a demo on Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS). ORS is a simple mix of sugar, salt and water that helps the body absorb liquids and is helpful in rehydrating people with diarrhea. Our neighbor, Marie, was so kind and energetic about helping us organize women to come to our ORS demo.
I knew coming in there would be a lot of suffering here, but seeing it is obviously different. Here suffering is normal, that’s just how life is. 3.5 children in Niger die every year due to dehydration alone. Sad bears. I’m so thankful for my own health at this moment.

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