The Pulaars live so closely with their animals that there are more than 30 sounds used to call animals in and to shoo them away. Two sounds for each animal: one to say “go away” (Yah!) and one to say “come here” (Argay!). My uncle went through a few of them, some common ones that I hear almost every day in Senegalese households. To shoo a cat (ulundu), its seep seep. To call in a cat, mus. For a goat (mbeewa): adja and mba. Chickens (gertogal): keess and cuss. Donkey (mbaaba): ani and karl. Dogs (rawandu): yah and ey. For a cow (nage): clich and touyoy.
The mangoes are ripening. Slowly turning yellow. Little Moussa and Sidi are climbing the trees to pull them down. We are so impatient, Sidi slashed them all down from one tree, green or yellow. I came home from class to find the ground littered with mangoes. Never in my life could I imagine mangoes littering the ground. Our neene’s father planted these mango trees and built the well: the mango trees so that his family would always have food and shade, and the well so that his family would always have water even when the electricity cuts off and water stops flowing from the water tower to the robines.
I’m thinking right now about a tragic scene we saw on the way to Podor. We passed what appeared to be a head-on collision on the highway, glass broken everywhere and a body covered by a tarp on the ground in the sun. All we could see were the feet, sticking out uncovered from the tarp. While in Podor, we passed a funeral, the women wailing as they walked down the dirt roads. He lived in Podor. Its moments like these that remind me how fragile life is and how quickly it can be shattered. People in Senegal live their lives day by day—in the present—for the future seems so unpredictable. Inshallah. God willing. See you tomorrow, haa jango, inshallah. God willing. So Allah jabi. If God agrees.
An interesting behavior that Senegalese have is refusing to wash out wounds and self-medication. Ami tokosel refused to wash out a cut on her leg saying that it would hurt—I made her wash it. Another incident: Sidi hurt his leg wrestling with little Moussa the other day, his cut deep and revealing the surface of his shin bone. Paul washed it out with some antiseptic solution, but only after chasing and calling Sidi back. Checking up on it two days later, Sidi told Paul that he was taking some medication to help him with another problem. Pulling it out of his pants pocket, Sidi presented the yellow package to Paul. Paul was a bit appalled. The medication claimed to treat intestinal worms—something Sidi bought no doubt on the streets of Ngekhokh. This happens frequently. People self-medicate themselves, buying whatever they can find. In Podor, a common problem associated with malaria is the lack of initiative to go to the health post when malarial symptoms first appear. To save themselves the money of a health consultation, many Senegalese will buy painkillers from a street vendor when they start getting sick. The symptoms go away for a couple of days before the patient gets gravely ill with a more severe and developed case of malaria. The simple malaria is easily treatable, but this more grave stage takes a much longer time to treat. The chief of medicine at our health center informed us that starting this May 1st, malarial treatment medication will be free to all patients in need of it. I am hoping that with this new program, we can encourage people to come to the health post as soon as they start to develop malarial symptoms.
The biggest issue in Podor is actually schistosomiasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms found in freshwater sources. The eggs hatch and develop inside a snail in the water. Then the parasitic worms penetrate the skin of humans, growing in blood vessels. The worms produce eggs which travel to the bladder or intestines and are passed back into the water through urine or feces. In Podor, many people are affected by this disease because the river is used for everything. Women wash their laundry, dishes, and selves in the water. Kids play and bathe in the river. All the gardens in Podor are along the river; water is pumped up to them straight from the river. Schisto can be extremely easy to treat (de-worming medication) but can have long-term damage on the liver, intestines, lungs, and bladder if left untreated for several years. The chief of medicine claims that about 90% of the talibe have schisto in Podor. Paul and I are planning on doing much work to decrease the incidence of schisto.
Paul has promised to write about our volunteer visit to Podor (our new site!!), so stay tuned for more about our new site.