Last night I dreamt that our entire stage rafted down the Senegal River, stopping halfway along our trip to snack on follere and fried chicken. It was the first dream I’ve had in Senegal about Senegal, and it was delicious.
We’ve only been at site for two and a half weeks, but already Kuumba and I are getting a good impression of the problems we’ll be addressing for the next year or so. As I think Maddy already mentioned, Schisto is a big problem here, given Podor’s nestled position in a small quirk of the Senegal River. I think the Medecin Chef told us that 90% of children enrolled in ecoles primaries here have the disease, and in a town where money for water can be scarce and the temperature hovers around 40-45 degrees C this time of year, it’s not hard to see why. Tomorrow we’re biking to Jambo to see Evan, where Insha’Allah we will do some first-hand research on how the disease is acquired (read: swim across the river to the island to look at/ hopefully play with monkeys).
In the afternoon we’re going to the health center to talk to my counterpart about one of the causeries we’d like to do before IST. While we’re still developing our plan of attack with Schisto, Lauren left us all the right tools to do a nutrition causerie for women with malnourished children, and we’d like to attempt at least one during the hospital’s weekly baby weighing sessions. The other causerie we want to tackle before IST (if, for no other reason, just for the practice) is a 2 for 1 session where we talk about preventing Malaria, then go on to show the women of our quartier how to make neem lotion, an effective and cheap mosquito repellent.
The months after install are an awkward time. We want to get going doing the things we were training to do for the last 9 weeks, but if we don’t pace ourselves and spend time getting to know our community, its culture, and our assigned language we risk getting burned-out. At the same time, anywhere you go in the world there’s a certain subtext to a community, one that can take months to begin to comprehend. As someone who visibly doesn’t belong to that community, it could even take years. Right now we’re balancing the urge to get tangible work done with trying to unravel this thread—the stuff that you don’t get by stopping into someone’s house and talking to them for a few hours, even if you go every day for a month.
Hope all’s well in the ‘States