Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Internet Face Stuffing Dance Party

December 19, 2010: Sunday Fun Day!

It’s our day off from IST and it was a much needed break. Woke up at the late our of 9:30 and took a cold, but refreshing, drip shower (the water presure is a bit weak in the mornings). Then lounged around the hotel and typed my journal entries onto my computer for easy upload when I get to internet again. Then we all went off to lunch: we went to the only place that sells porc and it was delicious! So so so good. I forgot how good pork is. Yum. Only thing is that there was a big group of very loud Burkinabè who sat down right next to us. Completely deranged all of us, and by all of us I really mean MOI! But as soon as the food came we were all too busy stuffing our faces to care! Also – I wish pigs weren’t so damn fat. They should harbor more muscle, and less fat – because that stuff is not fun to eat, and not fun to digest. Our platter, unfortunately, was proportioned fat>muscle. Sad times. After lunch we lounged some more and I typed more. Then we decide to go to Hugo’s house to do our homework, make dinner and use Internet. It was a blast. Got most of my blogs up, finished our ridiculous homework about a spider (who resembles a person in the pictures) who eats chimpanzee tails and tricks animals into becoming it’s prey. Bad spider. Dinner (eggplant, green peppers, onions and tomatoes with salt and instant mashed potatoe porriage) was good. Yum. Internet was ridiculous as always. Uploaded pictures and commented on everyone else’s. But overeall – all we did todday was loung and eat. Perfect. Everyone else drank – but I steered clear of it becaues my intestines and I are at war.

Mam na rata n bang Mooré

December 15, 2010

First day of this mini-stage and, surprisingly, it wasn’t as torturous as we all assumed it would be. We’re splitting our learning into two languages: le Français and Mooré, and to make things even more enjoyable we are utilizing both formal learning style and then application. So we have two hours of French in the morning, two hours of applying that French within the city, break for lunch, then we apply our Mooré for an hour and 45 minutes, then meet to learn Mooré for an hour and a half.

Today – since it was our first day in the city – we went around saluering (greeting) important(ish) people like the guys at the post office, the police, and the people Hugo (one of the volunteers who live here) works with. We learned that pretty much 87% of the population speaks French which is a HUGE change from where we all have been in the past three months (and probably why we’re refreshing our vocabulary and grammar). But really all we did was tour the city and then learn a few words in Mooré: Roli/Doli = petit ami (boyfriend or girlfriend) ß the difference between using an “R” or a “D” depends on what part of the country you’re in and has nothing to do with gender. I forgot what else we learned, but I didn’t have my notebook on me so I couldn’t write it down.

Anyway, Christmas and New Years are still getting planned. Looks like I’ll be traveling with Ashley to Josh’s site for the festivities of Noel. Shannon will also be there (one of his site mates), so I won’t be a third wheel. New Years – well, that is definitely undetermined. I’m not worried about it and don’t mind (at this point) if I spend it alone at site. I’m not with the people I most want to spend that day/night with – so why put so much pressure on myself to make it memorable? It’s just another day in a year && I’ve got two of them here. Speaking of time here: I’ve figured I really only have 13 months of work here: Pretty much, the first 6 months at site are used to get integrated, learn the people, language and functions of your work and then you have your 13 months of work, (accumulated) 2 months of travel and the last 3 months are for closing up your work, saying goodbye to your village and then preparing to go home. So I’m feeling a little better about it all.

Sheep go to Heaven, Goats go to Hell

Thursday, 9 Decembre 2010

Our New Years has officially been canceled due to Ashley and Josh’s engagement and marriage plans. They both want to be married sometime during the hot season and they want a plane ride to be included in those plans – so money and vacation days need to be saved for that time. This ultimately means I’ll be spending (more than likely) Christmas somewhere local and New Years is still in the works: Ashley wants to go to the south-west and Josh wants to go to the far south east and at this time I frankly don’t care anymore due o the fact that ANYWHERE we go in-country will not be beachside. :[ Damn. I honestly think I’ll be spending at least one of those holidays in site.

To be more positive about this situation: I need to think about all the work I can get one before IST (in-service training): PACA and writing both an English and French version of my report d’etude. I’ll have an extra week to complete these tasks – I might as well look forward to that and put on a responsible mindset. Also – mom is thinking about visiting me before I come home next year for a couple of weeks. She said “I don’t know if I can wait a whole year until I see you again.” Aww… so maybe March? But also – maybe it would be better for both of us if she waited until summer.

  • March 2011 = BF/Destination TBA (wedding?): 7days
  • April 2011 = Ghana/BF: 4-5days
  • December 2011= Americaland: 21/14days
  • February 2012 = Spain: 14days
  • May 2012 = Destination TBA: 2/9days

March and May are vacations that aren’t exactly set & the number of days would count as vacation, not necessarily the number of days I’d be visiting or having visitors.

Aside from all that talk about vacation, I have completed 4 days of working out! But dear GOD! My body is rebelling. My feet have blisters all over the place & I think my middle toe nail on my left foot is gonna fall off and the same could happen to my other foot. My legs are sore beyond belief. My abs are swollen and my ass might literally fall off. Ha. But I’m gonna keep this up. Everyday that I don’t go to Sapouy I’ll be running around 16:00 & then completing the likes of abs, push ups, lunges and jump rope.

As of right now I am able to run about 7 km (I need to master that without walking) and I’ll increase my distance throughout my months of training.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

“I’m a Single Cell on a Serpant’s Tongue”

December 08, 2010 Wednesday

I’m always amazed at how music takes command of my emotions. I know I’ve said this before – but I don’t think I’ll ever get over this amazement. Different bands trigger different friends, shows, relationships, failures, and successes, all things connected to me. I even feel things I don’t want to. Frustrations. Annoyances. Fights with loved ones. Sadness. But the joy I get from remembering overrules those distractions.

At a moment I was disappointed at the actions and decisions of past friends, was in the middle of a fight with an ex, was too numb to say my true feelings to the one I was with, contemplately what failure really means – but then I was driving to a concert, flirting with my best friend, cooking dinner with my lady love, hula hooping outside, running at night with my co-workers, driving with my sisters, listening to records with my mom, washing the car with my dad. I was in Huffman, Dallas, Austin, Midland, Wichita Falls, San Marcos, and Houston.

Music holds me together and rips me apart. Music means so much to me. I really don’t know where I’d be without it. But some music needs new memories – I am caught thinking of people I don’t want to think about due to music I shared with them, moments in time when they were important but now are the very last thing I’d want to think about. I know sometimes these memories are good – but right now I wish I had different ones playing in my head. I guess I’ll just have to make new ones when I get back to the States.

“You’re the yellow bird I’ve been waiting for”

Bells Are Ringing

Tuesday, Decembre 7, 2010

It’s official: Everyone in my village (that I consistantly talk to) believes I’ll be marrying Adam in 2014 or 2016. They think this because I have pictures of him and tell them that he is my best friend, along with Ashley (but of course they wouldn’t think I would marry her, oh no, not this country). So, I guess I should let him know so he can start planning.

But then again, Alisone said I should marry Frank Arriaga (yes, the Frank from TCI) simply because he thought he was handsome. Silly stuff. He also told me, as we were going though pictures on my computer, that I had too many men: Frank, Adam, Chris and (Adam, you’ll love this one) Jeremy. Ha. These accusations are conjured up simply because of random pictures of the above gentlemen and me. I guess the people in my village shouldn’t know about the other relationships… whoops?

Worked out once again today!! Second day and counting. I really hope to keep this routine going strong. Really trying to get my butt into liking running again. I remember loving my early morning runs when I was in CC. Gotta get that back, I think I really need that in my life right now.

Bad News: we may not be going to Togo for New Years after all. Engagements happened, money needs to be saved, and now we’re thinking vacation days need to be saved for hot season. I guess it isn’t such a blow – but I am actually pretty bummed.

More details to come.

100 Days in Village

Decembre 6, 2010 Lundi

Nothing extraordinary happened other than men beating some sorghum and singing while they do it. It’s times like these that I wish I had a camera that also took video. Damn Canon xSi!! But I did bring out my camera and took a few snapshots of the men at work and then again of the women.

One man called me la blanche and I quickly called him le noir and told him that my name is Lauren. I hate it when people call me la blanche. He didn’t at first understand my point by calling him le noir. He said, yes, but you’re blanc. And I told him that I don’t go around calling people le noir here and I also told him I don’t like being called that. So he understood and apologized – which is nice.

What isn’t nice is when a functionaire calls you la blanche while conversing about you (in front of you) to another nurse. Yeah. I about died. This new nurse knows my name, but she still chose to use the derogatory term la blanche when speaking about me RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. I looked up and said “la blanche huh?” and Agathe said to her “She doesn’t like that, her name is Lauren,” but then the new nurse (Mariam) didn’t seem to understand. I called her la noir and she said “Yes, I am black” but then I said “Yes, but you also have a name.” It was pointless arguing with her… so I just shook my head and continued with my work, very pissed off.

Aside from that: Meningites vaccination campaign is today through the 15th & our village’s day is Wednesday! Hopefully I’ll be conducting another PACA tool on Friday – speaking with the Peuhl women. I’m really excited to be getting so much work done before IST. Let’s hope I can finish it all before the training comes around.

Also – worked out today. I hope to shed a few pounds before we vacation in Togo. Damn birth control made me gain a little within that horrid month && I know cameras, bathing suits and the beach will be included in our little New Years vacation to the coast.

So I’m not a Burden?

Decembre 2, 2010

I felt like I actually HELPED today! I was helping at the maternity with baby weightings’. I actually was allowed to keep track and record of all the babies coming in and tell the major if the baby had lost or gained weight. When the major left to go tend to a sick person at the dispensary, I was in charge of writing all the information and data into the baby’s booklet! Finally I feel like I’m not just in the way of everyone here.

Side note: Tomorrow I’ll be going to Sapouy to get oatmeal, candles and pick up my medication from OA (malaria prophylaxis). I’ve forgotten the last two times I’ve been in town.

Ultra side note: Started my period today for the first time since the end of June. This is exciting news – I hope this means my body is actually beginning to accept we’ll be here for a while.

Un GROS Araigné

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My heart is thumping in my chest and my nerves feel like they’re on over drive. I’m all kinds of shaken up again: I saw the BIGGEST SPIDER ON THE PLANET EARTH!

The Scorpion Carrier!

So, I’m cooking dinner, though I’m not that hungry, and notice something that crept along the wall – I thought it was another salamander (one scared me this afternoon while cooking lunch) but I noticed it seemed a lot bigger and didn’t move as spastically. So I try to shine my lanterns light on it, but it was hiding.

Why does it always have to be night when creepy crawlers come out?!!

Now I’m even more curious – I bang the table to see if it would scuttle away – but I see no movement. I finally see something HUGE come out from between my propane gas tank and my big metal bowl that holds my dishes.


I ran like I was in football practice, high-knees through car tires.

I know now it’s not a salamander – and I didn’t know if it was a scorpion or a scorpion carrier or just another breed of scary-ass insects! Alor, naturally my neighbor comes over, panicked, and asks what?! And I’m shaking and crying already – so I’m not much help when she’s asking questions. She finally steps into my house and asks again what is it? And all I can muster up is “c’est gros gros gros gros!” She asks “where?” and I point to where I last saw it. By this time another woman shows up, then another. They’re all asking “what?” “what’s wrong?” “where is it?” and then we see it!! I scream again and now there are four women, one man and two kids either in my house or on my patio. I’m scared shitless (excuse my French) and they all assure me it doesn’t do anything: “il faire rien.” It scurries its scary big body away and under my tent. I’m freaking out because I just want it DEAD and out of my house. My other neighbor finally kills it with my ballé (hand broom) and the man picks it up and takes it outside. I stop him and tell him I want to look at it close up. It’s DISGUSTING! It’s huge and it’s legs are long and its pinchers are big and furry and its thorax is enormous and elongated. Honestly – this thing is huge. The biggest spider I have ever seen in real life. All the people in my house say that it doesn’t bit – but it’s still scary and why would I not want it in my house?! Its name is SCORPION CARRIER. I’m just waiting for a scorpion to show up.

  • 5 scorpions
  • 4 bats
  • 1 scorpion carrier
  • 16+ other spiders

All that’s missing is a snake. Geez – that better not EVER happen.

I’m super flippin’ freaked out.

On a side note: I truly hate flies. I don’t know how many times I have said it – but I hate them. Despise them. Will never be indifferent towards them. NEVER. I was working on my computer today at the pharmacy and for some reason it was infested with flies. I don’t know if Agathe’s son being there is a cause, but I don’t remember here being that many flies before he came around. I also despise people hovering over me while I’m working

But I do love music – which helped me not punch that hovering lady today.

I listened to ABBA today and all I could think of was Ashley’s dad and how much she told me of his love of ABBA. Ha. I miss her! I can’t wait for April to get here. I hope she's able to come and isn’t pulling my leg. J

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Best Day Thus Far

30 Novembre 2010, Tuesday

I am tempted to say that today was the best I've had since I've been in village. WOW. I'll break it down for y'all.

6:05 - Get up and out of my tent, boil water for oatmeal. *Was going to wake up at 5:00, but soon remembered I didn't have enough water for a bucket bath.

6:12 - Go out to latrine. Damn it's cold! Say hi to my neighbors

6:20 - Wash face with freezing cold water

6:25 - Prepare oatmeal: water, quick oats, sugar, and powdered milk plus a dash of cinnomen

6:30 - Get dressed, put sunscreen on, fix hair

6:45 - Out the door and off to the CSPS, gotta get there early for a PACA tool I'm conducting with the Mossi women. Don't forget oatmeal on the go!

7:10 - Eat oatmeal while waiting for Mossi women to arrive and wait for Alisone to show up

7:45 - Realize NO ONE has shown up and begin to be quite disappointed. Tell Alisone my worries so he goes to try to gather women

8:10 - Two women show up. Alisone confronts them about the time and then realizes I want/need to go to Sapouy today for the marché. He suggests doing (the PACA) tomorrow and re-organizing the women. The two women say more are on the way

8:30 - About 11 women are here... good enough

8:45 - Alisone wants to start at 9:00 to give more women time to show up

9:00 - 32 women are at the CSPS. We start

10:30 - Finish the PACA: 64 women showed up & I was informed of two women's group within the community! *a BIG success* I'm very proud of myself and glad I could make the women talk and laugh with me during the activity

11:50 - Leave for Taré to catch the camion by 13:00

13:58 - KGB rolls around and I jump on

14:15 - Arrive in Sapouy! Go buy the following:
  • Charger for my phone
  • Power strip to charge things at CSPS
  • Pagne (two of 'em)
  • Bread, onions, garlic, cabbage, chives, squash, eggplant, green peppers
  • Send letters at the post
16:00 - Catch a bus back to Taré

The rest of my day was full of laughter. I gave Agathe green peppers, eggplant and a head of cabbage! Shared potats with her sone Pierre (which means rock or stone in French) and the CoGes President and, of course, Prudence (the major's dog). Attempted to share with a donkey - but he was too confused as to why I wasn't beating or chasing him with a stick. So he refused to let me come near him. Later I took a hot bucket bath, cleaned dishes, wrote in my planner and put away groceries. Went back to the CSPS to eat tô with the major, Agathe and Safia. Yum. Almost ate the head of a chicken on accident - thought it was a leg. That was pretty terrible but really funny. Then we talked about ghosts here in Burkina - apparently there a lot of phantoms here and seems like everyone believes in them. Interesting. Was completely scared to death by a chick whom I thought was the predator who was attacking/hunting the chicks... and so I was completely laughed But I laughed too! ha. Called Adam. He's FINALLY gonna send my care package. I'll expect to see it after the New Years. Went home and now I'm writing.

Don't know why - but I feel & have felt REALLY good today. Very positive and like my old self before birth control.

Love it.

Black Friday

26 Novembre 2010

Instead of hustling and bustling to department stores and scrounging for the best sales, I am at my house... in Burkina Faso... oversleeping and recovering from the 108km I biked in the past 2 days. ha. So Thanksgiving was yesterday and all I wanted was to be home with my family, but, of course, I was stuck here in this damn country. I met up with Emily in Sapouy for the holiday: this is what I brought with me, on my bike.

  • Beans which were soaked overnight
  • Boiled sweet potatoes
  • Box of organic vegetable stock
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Potass (potassium for the beans)
  • Chives
  • Smushed bread, :[
  • Instant mashed potatoes (so good!)
We made a vegetarian Moroccan-spiced soup, stuffing, mashed potatoes with garlic&chives, and sweet potatoes!

Overall it was a good day - nothing compared to how it would be back home... but good. The highlight of the day was when i got to talk to my mom and dad and then Devon! I tried to convince my parents to bake a pie en lieu of the holiday... not sure if it worked. Only ingredient missing this day was Bean - I don't know how to reach her via cellphone.

I miss my family so much.

No Holiday Cheer Here

Tuesday, 23 Novembre 2010

Talked with Sylvie today about my mood swings and birthcontrol and she suggests that I stop taking this kind – finish the pack – but no more after that. I don’t know if she wants me to try a different brand, but she put me on the one with the least amount of hormones – and at the drop of a nail I can change – so I don’t think a boost in hormones is any kinds of good for me. Good news: I can, possibly, stop being so down in the dirt. Bad news: I’m not on birth control with can start regulating my period.

Thanksgiving is only two days away and it’s not fun to be away from family and friends. I want to be home. I want to be able to spend the entire day at home with mom and dad and the animals and hopefully Devon and Berto and then the only thing missing would be Bean, but she’d be there too.

I miss miss miss my family.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt or been this alone.

I am not a fan.

Birth Control: I Hate You

Monday, 22 Novembre 2010

I’m angry. Sad. Annoyed. Lonely. Frustrated. Tired. I don’t know what comes over me when I get like this – but I’ve aquired quite a short fuse lately. Anything can set me off into a sour mood – whether I’m sad, angry, frustrated, annoyed or what have you – I can switch from content to the above emotions with a flick of the wrist. On top of that, it’s incredibly difficult to set me back. I should call Sylvie about it. Tell her the birth control is making me insane.

I’m tired of writing already.

PACA: 1 down, 7 to go

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Woke up later than I originally planned, 5:30 instead of 5:00, but had breakfast (oatmeal to go) at the CSPS and ended up waiting an hour and a half for women to being showing up and then ten more minutes for Alisone (my translator) to show up: appologizing and saying he was rounding up the women.

So – I successfully completely my first PACA tool today with the help of Alisone and about 25 to 30 women of the Gourounsi ethnic group. It was good practice – the information gathered is useful, but only proves what I had already known: these women work from day up to day end. It was, I will say, a little nerve-wracking because there were so many women there – I wasn’t expecting a group like that. Nor was I expecting all the questions to be directed at a small group of them – nor did I want just a few of the women to only answer. This is why it was a good first round: only room for improvements in the next 7 PACAs. Gourounsi men, Mossi women and men, Feulfeuldé women and men, and the CoGes/Staff of the CSPS.

I only did the daily schedule with the women this morning, which means that’s the only PACA I’ll complete with the community. I’ll also be doing a needs assessment with the Staff of the CSPS and then one again with the CoGes. I would really like to do community mapping with the three ethnic groups, but I don’t know how I would set that up and who I could invite – becauce I would not be able to handle 25 men and 25 women from each ethnic group. No!

One thing that bothered me the most about this PACA was that I felt uneasy – I felt as if the women didn’t want to be there – but at the end of the activity all the women clapped and said thank you. I jus wish there were something I could do at the end of the sessions to give closure: or a good reason for them being there and not be a waste of their time. Maybe I just don’t know and am reading the group wrongly. Maybe they just don’t know how to openly show they don’t mind being away from their work?

Anyway: I’m getting more comfortable with my hair the way it is. I still don’t think it’s the best look for me, but it will do – and I will say it doesn’t look half bad now that I give it a chance.

I sill find myself slip into thoughts of “why am I here” and “I would be better off at home going back to school.” But I know nothing is there for me: except family, vagabond and beak, and DEBT! So I then find myself halfway releaved to be here – but still can’t fathom being here for 2 years.

On a brighter note: I’ve got a complet (shirt and skirt from the same material) in the works at a local tailor. Depending on how he does – I’ll stay with him or find another.

Here Kitty, Kitty

Wednesday 17 Novembre 2010

I just went chasing after a kitten in my courtyard. The kittens that were born a while back – they left the family compound before I could get my hands on one – well, they’re feisty now!! I got one, but he hissed and hollered and tried to bite me so I finally had to drop him. Dang. I gotta get one of them. Or maybe next time I’ll snatch one a little too early, feed it baby formula and have it get used to human touch before it hates the very thought of it.

Dr. Claude comes to visit tomorrow. Kinda bums me out since I was gonna go to the marché tomorrow in Sapouy, but I guess it’s okay. I’ll go Friday and see if anyone (other volunteers) is out there too. I doubt I’ll be leaving site until a week after elections: that’s on Sunday. So I have to make due with what I can find Friday for the following Thursday (Thanksgiving!!). My first Thanksgiving away from home. That’s a little weird…okay, it’s really really really weird.

It will be a year and a half since I will have seen my parents come this next December (2011) when I go home for Christmas. So strange.

A side note: I’m talking to a group of Gourounsi women: my first PACA tool!! I’m really intimidated. I think I’ll go over the program with Agathe (whom I think will be translating) tomorrow so she can help me explain the objective properly.

A further side note: sometimes I really miss working at Maximus up in Wichita Falls. What the heck? Maybe I just really being that confident in myself… here it’s pretty difficult to actually feel good, sexy, confident. Not even possible. Ha. Oh well.

Happy Tabaski Day?

Tuesday, 16 Novembre 2010

I ate way too much food today. Period. Damn Fête. I’m completely stuffed. Fatty fatty 2x4 is all that’s in my head right now and all I want to do is sleep.

“You Look Terrible”

Monday, 15 Novembre 2010

How can I start talking/writing about today? It’s been one week on birthcontrol and I don’t know if my body likes it or maybe I don’t like really being able to feel what I do about where I am.

So I woke up only because I had to and was completely unmotivated. Unmotivated to get up. Unmotivated to go to the CSPS. Unmotivated to eat. Unmotivated to shower.

As I finish my oatmeal (I decided I should eat for fear of my stomach being ultra sensitive to missing one morning of fiber) I decide I’m going to cut my hair again. Finish cutting my hair would be more accurate to say. So I put my “above the shoulder” length hair up into a low-slung ponytail and then I take my scissors to it. Chop the tail right off. Now I’m left with a Victoria Beckham-esque hair cut and decide to chop at it some more. I don’t like the a-symmetricality of that 1st cut and decide to just go for a twiggy hair cut. Yes, it’s that short. I’m done and look at myself in my very small mirror and say outloud “you look terrible.” I immediately regret cutting my hair and walk aimlessly around my small kitchen area and start to cry. Softly and to myself at first and then get down on my knees and compact my body and let the waterworks flow. I cried, no, I bawled for a good 45 minutes until my neighbors came over and tried to greet me while I was crying on the floor. Finally, because I was ignoring them, a french-speaking woman came into my house and attempted to comfort me. Asking me why I’m crying? Am I sick? Why did I cut my hair? Etc. Eventually I mumble some words in French and she tells me to calm down and stop crying – to take a shower, go to Sapouy for the marché and calm down. No more crying.

This is difficult for me – to stop crying. Everytime my hands reach my head expecting to find my long hair they become shocked and shrivel back to my sides and I have this very strong wave crash into me and I feel my eyes welling up.

So – shower, I did. & Rode my bike to Kation to see if I could catch a camion/bus because I wasn’t up for the 27km bike ride. Instead, I was greeted by the Jamaican man who loves the Police, Rolling Stones and Scorpion and he buys me a small watermelon and sets me up with a ride to Sapouy from another English speaking individual. Before I get in the truck the Jamaican man asks me “Why you cut your hair, man?” I said “I was having a bad day.” Ha. So I get to Sapouy and go get a spot at the bar, get a Fanta and a saché of water, cut my watermelon and share it with the surrounding men around me. Go to the poste (post office) at 15:00 and am greeted by closed doors. Damn. Really the only reason I came. Oh well – Go to the marché and buy eggplant, garlic and bread and at the small boutique I buy oil, Sprite, cookies and vinegar. I was hoping to find green peppers, but no such luck. I ride my bike back to site and give Agathe, who’s sick at the time, two bananas. I end up eating dinner at her place. I don’t know why – but she continues to ask me why I cut my hair. Really, I don’t know. Why not?

Snip Snip

Friday, 12 Novembre 2010

Day 5 of birthcontrol. I seem to feel fine. Maybe a little bit less enthusiastic about being here… I should tell Sylvie about that slight mood change.

Also – cut my hair today.

Yes. I. Cut/Chopped. Off. My. Own. Hair. I’m not done. It’s at the “awkward, growing out stage” which doesn’t make much sense because I just cut it… so I’m gonna take my scissors to it again tomorrow and really cut it short. I figured I might as well chop it all off now instead of waiting another year and not have it grown out when I get back to the States. Hopefully it will grow out healthy.

Told ma that I cut my hair. Her first words, very faint and quite: “how short?!” and then when I said pretty short, but I’m gonna cut more… she said “uh oh, you’re not well at all” WHAT? Just because I cut my hair doesn’t mean I’m not well. Dang it. But I understand her concern and I know she’s just worried that I’m not okay. She always jumps at the slightest opportunity to help me: “I’ll find a book on that language and send it to you.” So sweet. But I really need her to take care of herself and pops. She’s been sick for so long: since June! I need her to get well! I don’t want anything, not one thing bad to happen while I’m away. Not even bad: I don’t want anything slightly bad, wrong, unpleasant, not okay to happen. I want ma & pa to be happy and healthy while I’m away. Really – I do.

Current book: “The End of Eternity” by Isaac Asimov

Damn you Sci-Fi books!! So nerdy, but so good.


Thursday, 11 October 2010

It’s November and I haven’t done any PACA tools. WTF? I need to do my damn job but it’s difficult without direction. It’s difficult without a superior – not even that – it’s difficult being the 1st volunteer at site. They don’t what what to do with me and I don’t quite not what I’m supposed to do here.

Sensibilisations: okay. About what?

Family Planning and the importance of “spacing” out children so they have the means to raise them and give them a healthy life. This also includes the steps to take once you are pregnant. Yes, but for what? Their lives will consist of the same hardships. Okay: Devil’s advocate. Stop it.

HIV/AIDS is not a big priority here due to the fact that the percentage of the population infected is quite low.

Nutrition: or lack there of. Malnurished children are not a big problem here. Okay, no, even a small percentage of malnurished children is a BIG problem && to talk about a good, balanced and healthy diet is always important.

Palu: Malaria is the number one problem in every part of Burkina Faso. Because it’s such a big issue and quite serious, I don’t know if I have the means to take on that task! Why is there not government funding for prophylaxis of malaria? Tablets like the ones I take on a weekly basis to prevent the infestation of the protozoan parasite within my red blood cells? Mayber there is, and I just don’t know about it?

Those are the four basic areas of which I need to “help.” Intestinal parasites would be put under Nutrition. But then also, there is the issue of hygiene. First and foremost I need to learn the vocabulary to properly talk and “sensibilize” about these 4 to 5 topics. I also need to learn the correct and detailed information of the above subjects. That’s where the IST (in-service training) comes in, I suppose.

Selfish Reasons

Wednesday, 10 Novembre 2010

I had a good but sad filled day. I ready two books: “PUSH” by Saphire and “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. I had started and finished “The Last Unicorn” in just over one day. Why am I hiding myself in books again? For the first time I thought to myself that I really don’t want to be here… and if I do… I might be here for the wrong reasons… I quickly shrugged these off and blamed my blue mood. But am I really here because I want to be or because I know I should be and this is because I don’t know what else I would do? Am I here because I know it will do ME good when 2 years come and go? What is this nonsense? I should be here because I care about helping these people who live in this community – if not to start big projects, at least to help one person. Am I not here because I am a selfless person? Why am I thinking in such selfish ways? Where does selfless come from when there is still the root of self. You cannot act upon one thing without thinking of the effects on you…or can you? I guess I’m still learning – I’m always learning. But most of all I’m learning about myself/others/and how we all meld together. I know I have acted when there was no such reward for myself – but I also know that the ability to say that is an award in itself, is it not? Selfless and selfish meld together as you and I do. If we were all selfless I do believe the world would come to a standstill. If we truly were all selfless our being would disappear because we wouldn’t have anyone to be selfless towards. I hate it. But the world seems to need selfishness in order for there to be those who give themselves to others.

Or maybe I’m being selfish in wanting to be selfless.

Maybe I’m just playing with words.

Escherichia coli: 1, Giardia lamblia: 1, Me: 0

Monday, 8 Novembre 2010

I haven’t written in such a long time – I technically had time, but I didn’t choose to use it because I had access to 1st world luxuaries again: TV, movies, running water, shower, toilet, A/C, internet (not all the time), refridgerator. 1st world luxaries I didn’t ever think to appreciate when I had them 24/7. So – to say the least, I was distracted. Why was I graced by all these niceties? I was in Ouaga for one thing and then on top of that I got sick (again) and stayed the night in the med unit. Wednesday, 27 Oct. I left for Ouaga due to doctor’s orders.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Wed. Leave for Ouaga (PCMO’s orders): catch 14:00 bus from Sapouy
  • Thu. Meet with Sylvie again: found nothing in stool sample: gave me metemucil. Released from doctor.
  • Fri. Leave Ouaga due to no housing: catch 17:00 bus, stay night in Sapouy
  • Sat. Leave Sapouy @ 12:30. Go back at 16:00
  • Sun. Catch 7:00 bus for Ouaga to go to SIAO
  • Mon. Banks closed. No SIAO
  • Tue. SIAO!! // get fever that night
  • Wed. Call Sylvie because of persistent fever. Bacteria found in stool
  • Thu. See Jean Luk because still feel sick. One more stool sample
  • Fri. Parasite found!!
  • Sat. Stay in med unit
  • Sun. Get back to site.

So a week of that was for medical purposes. Now I have the lovely task of explaining to all the people in my village as to why I was away from site for 10 nights and too many days. I got sick in Ouaga, damn it! So in reality: I used 4 TAC (time away from community) days and should be reimbursed for the other days I was in Ouaga because of those medical purposes.

Next big news: Dr. Claude (the APCD, or the head cheese of the Community Health sector in Burkina Faso) is supposidly coming to my site Wednesday! But I don’t know if that’s a good idea… I need to call her today and see what she thinks – but first I need to figure out what my major was saying about another village & tomorrow (are we going somewhere?!)

Aside from all this, I feel healthy now – Finally! I want & need to start training for this damn marathon come this hot season. That’s 7 months from now (I think) and if I don’t start now I’m not going to be able to run it.

My Health has Climbed into a Well

26 October 2010

So I’ve been consistently sick for the past two days: have had a steady fever (99.8 – 102.6) and my stomach aches… not cramping… not spastically coming and going… but an ongoing soreness. I don’t know what that means, but I’m definitely going to call a PCMO (Peace Corps Medical Officer) and make an appointment. So with me feeling more than under-the-weather, I have been at my house, never leaving except to use the latrine, for the past 48 hours. Solitary confinement with a twist: an unlimited number of visitors who barge into your own little space and then attempt to make conversation in a foreign language. I know: they’re only seeing if I feel better – they don’t want anything bad to happen to their very first nassara. But geez, it gets pretty tiring to always put on a smile when you feel like shit – or stand up and meet someone at the door because you don’t want them to come in when your stomach feels like it’s going to rip in two. T I R I N G, I tell you. But the major (the head nurse at the CSPS) and Agathe have been all too kind. They have been checking up on me every so often. Congo (the major) came by with a blood pressure machine and a thermometer – and Agathe came armed with bouille (porridge-like substance made from millet here) and at night: rice with minimal flavor to ward off cramping. So nice.

On top of all his: I have a ridiculous pimple on my jaw line and a sty on my left lower eyelid. :[ But with this “free” time I’ve jumped into more than half of “Kafka on the Shore,” cleaned/cut my nails and toe-nails, shaved my legs and thoroughly washed my hair. Joy. Oh – and cleaned my house, made a shopping list for Ouaga and thought all too much about my place back home: friends, family, Splashtown, apartments, schooling, love affairs, lost friendships, the price difference of different states, the job market, vacation time… yes. All. Too. Much.

Maybe I’ve ingested too much bleach? (we put a tiny bit of bleach in our water to kill bacteria and parasites after we filter it) My gut is taught and hard and makes me think of all the problems my mom has with her digestive system. Maybe I have appendicitis? Possibly something wrong with my pancreas? What about a big, huge worm taking vacation in my small/large intestines? How about an ulcer? Man, who knows… I just hope a PCMO figures it out and I hope it’s nothing serious… maybe just a build up of gas?! Ha. That’d be hilarious. Diagnosis: Flatulants are caught in your large intestine and can’t escape from your colon. Nice. But I secretely, not so secret anymore, hope that if it is serious: I hope it’s enough to get me a nice vacation outside the country. Terrible, huh? Not so much. I’m still waiting for my wisdom to come in so I can take a trip to Senegal or South Africa. Hey now – no judgemental eyes: all PCVs do this

… I think.

Three Epiphanies in One Day

23 October 2010

  • Epiphany #1: I enjoy tô
  • Epiphany #2: I really enjoy being at site
  • Epiphany #3: Schedules/Routines are wanted/needed

Phew! That’s a lot for one day. I rode back to village from Sapouy today after spending the night at Emily’s house (even though I really wanted to get back to site – she’s really persuasive). The ride back was okay today. Hot. But overall, just okay… even with my iPod. Lately I’ve been enjoying the ride, but today was different. Sapouy is good – I love being able to drink cold beverages whenever I want: frozen bissap, cold soda, water, frosty beer: but I’ve realized this taints my tongue and tricks my mouth when I get back to village. Yes – I love the marché, and it’s necessary if I want a well balanced diet, but I have dinner with Agathe (the pharmacist) at least 4 nights out of the week, at least lately. The produce don’t stay long without refrigeration, so I guess what I’m saying is I don’t think I need to leave site too often. Yes, I will more than likely go to Sapouy once a week for marché and to check mail – but aside from that I don’t think I’ll be traveling there to spend the night. If I’ll travel – I want to do so in a way to see other sites like mine. That way I won’t be spending much money – nor would I be wasting my time in a city when I could be integrating.

I enjoy tô (pronounced toe): I do. Not much to explain there. It’s difficult to explain what tô is, so I’ll let your imagination wander. Just know it’s comprised of flour made from corn, millet or sorghum mixed into boiling water & thickened to the consistency of cold porridge (but hot) and then accompanied by a variety of sauces. My appreciation of tô is solely based on the sauce; if the sauce is good, then the tô is good. I love two sauces and need to learn their names so I can learn how to prepare them here and back at home: YES! I do want to show you all tô.

Needing and wanting a schedule has been a long time coming. Training for a marathon requires a set schedule and routine. It’s more of a need, but I’ve realized I do want it as well. But this need to workout is both for my health and for appearance: everything in this country is carb after carb, and I’m afraid if I don’t work out and continue to do so – I will gain weight. And no one wants that – well, except for ALL the Burkinabè here who insist that I eat more so I CAN gain weight. They want me to go home fat so everyone back in the States thinks this country is bien. Ha.

My Attempt at Organizing my Life

22 October 2010

My mind has been crowded with talks of marriage. Let’s get back to here: where I am: small village: Burkina Faso: West Africa: 5 hours ahead of the life I knew back in the States. No births lately. The top 3 maladies: Palu (malaria), Rhinosomethingoranother (upper respiratory infection), and Parasitosis (intestinal parasites). The groups being affected the most: Adult women & children/infants ages 1-4. What does this mean? It means (when I start being able to do work) my sensiblisations should be targeted towards women with children. What to do next? PACA (if I knew the exact meaning of those four letters, I would write them out for you all – just know it’s different community focused, participatory activities to study the culture, community and mindsets of the people). What PACA tool? Daily activities of all the different women and men: including all three ethnic groups: Mossi, Gourounsi, and Feulfeuldé. Then talk to the members of CoGes (Comité de Gestion – I don’t know how to translate this, sorry). I need to do a needs assessment with the staff of the CSPS also.

Either way – I have too much music flowing through me. I’ve realized I want and more than anything else need this music.