Saturday, November 5, 2011

Babies and Bubbles

Sounkharou and Fily both gave birth to baby girls!  Early yesterday morning, I got a knock on my door, informing me that Fily had just given birth to a healthy baby girl.   I ran over to Fily’s room to congratulate her and to see the new baby, and she already had a room full of visitors.  It seemed as though all the women in the village stopped by the compound yesterday to see the baby and give blessings.  In the morning, all the female village elders came to the compound and dug a hole and buried what I think was the afterbirth and put a rock over it.  I tried asking why they were doing that but it seemed like a personal tradition that they didn’t want to answer questions about.

Apparently when you have a baby here, you are quarantined to your room with the baby for a week.  Fily was very disappointed since she’s going to have to celebrate Tabaski (the biggest Muslim holiday of the year) in her room.  She still insists on tressing my hair tomorrow though.  The whole family has been really good about hanging out in her room with her, even though it’s insanely hot in there.  Last night, we ate dinner in there with her and shelled peanuts for a while. 

Sounkharou had her baby and baptism while I was in Thies for a Summit meeting, so I met baby Samiyo when I got back to Nafadji a couple days ago.  Since there are no diapers here, getting peed on is inevitable.  The first time I held Samiyo, she peed all over me.  Now I’m hesitant to hold the babies for too long if I don’t want to get showered on. 

Mbamoussa, who is expecting twins, still has not given birth, and she was due before both Sounkharou and Fily.  I can tell that she’s getting very frustrated, and I’m worried about her delivery since Sarr and Madame Diop are both away for Tabaski.  Randomly, there is a team of French doctors who are in my village for a week giving out free, expired medicine to the villagers.  Sarr and I are both very unhappy with these people since giving out medicine is not sustainable development, and the medicine is expired.  They gave expired medicine to Mbamoussa, and Sarr was furious with the doctors since she is very fragile right now.  The one good thing about them being here is that they came with a car, so I may try to see if they can drive Mbamoussa to Saraya so she is closer to a hospital in case she needs a C-section.  I’m anxious for her to have the babies safely so I know all the babies are out safe and sound. 

Bubbles are the new craze on my compound.  My grandma sent me some bubbles for the kids, and they went nuts over them.  It was so much fun to watch how excited they got and how amazed they were by the bubbles.  After the bubble liquid was gone, one of the little girls asked if it would work with soap.  I poured some of my liquid dish soap in the bottle with water, and sure enough it worked well!  So now bubble time is turning into a daily ritual on the compound!  The elementary school kids fight over the bubble wands, while the little ones try to chase the bubbles down to pop them.

Before I returned from the Summit meeting, I called Mbamoussa to let her know I was coming back to Nafadji the following day, and when I got back, her son Saibo had started pulling all the weeds in my yard!  The little girls, Adama, Asu, and Fanta Founee helped me sweep my room and haul buckets of water back to my hut.  It felt so good to be back after traveling for over a week.  I love the kids on my compound!

Before I left for the Summit meeting, I went out to the fields with the entire family and we harvested peanuts.  It was an exhausting day but such a fun experience.  We sat around pulling peanuts off the plants and chatting.  By the end of the day, we were all covered in dirt, so we had a nice bath in the river. 

My baseline survey is finally done, and I analyzed the results.  My survey covered 571 people on 51 compounds.  Here are some of my findings:

·      *  53% of the population does not have a working latrine
·      *  Of the population surveyed, there is 1 latrine for every 19 people, and the ideal is 1 latrine for every 10 people
·      *  67% of the population does not wash hands with soap every day
·     *   100% of those surveyed knew what Moringa is and 82% grow it
·      *  100% of families said the mothers breastfed their babies until at least the age of 2
·      *  96% of women said they attended prenatal visits while they were pregnant, and 100% of families said their women gave birth at the health post
·      *  In the past year, families reported that 380 people had had malaria in the last year, which is 67% of the population surveyed.
·      *  Health post records show 251 Nafadji villager cases of malaria in the past year, confirmed with positive malaria tests
·      *  It was reported that 87% of the surveyed population sleep under a mosquito net
·      *  Out of girls of school age, 21% dropped out of school, and 91% dropped out to get married
·      *  Out of boys of school age, 8% dropped out of school

There’s a lot to work on, but I was pleasantly surprised by the maternal health and nutrition responses.  I had no idea that so many people in my village grew Moringa, and if they are making leaf sauce out of that, they’re getting lots of vitamins and iron in their diets.

I’m starting to do work which is exciting!  Ian and I submitted a grant proposal to fund matrone training for 5 women coming from small villages in our health zones.  These villages do not have a trained birth attendant, and it would greatly help the maternal and child health of the communities for them to have trained matrones.  I also just met with the matrone in my village, Kaba, and she agreed to be my counterpart for the Care Group that I plan to start.  We’ll be choosing 10 women in the next couple weeks to be part of the group, and the group will meet once a month to be trained in a health issue.  After the training, each woman will be expected to teach 7 other women on different compounds whatever skill they learned.  At the end of each month, the entire village should have learned the information taught in the Care Group training.  Ian and I are also planning to organize cervical cancer screening in Nafadji and Missirah Dantila before the holidays.  Lots to do before I go home for Christmas!

Tabaski is the day after tomorrow, and my host dad told me that we’ll be killing 2 sheep for our family.  I got a new complet made in Kedougou, so I’m ready to celebrate!


  1. Such a wonderful slice of life blog. Sounds like you are really making the most of your experience. I can't wait to read your blog on the upcoming festivities.

  2. Congrats on all you've accomplished so far. It's wonderful that you feel so connected with your host family and beginning to work on interesting projects! Hope you get to eat a great meal on Tabaski. xoxo Mom