Being sick in village can be a very frustrating experience. Earlier this week, my body stopped sweating, and I kept getting the chills. I felt exhausted and tired, and all I wanted to do was sleep. Unfortunately, villagers do not understand the desire for solitude when sick. I slept in my hut for a lot of the day and people kept knocking on my door and yelling from outside “Aissata, why haven’t you left your hut? What are you doing in there? Come and drink tea with us!” Another day, the middle school teachers had me go to an event where I got there in the morning and we didn’t eat lunch until after 3pm. I had a horrible headache and they were blaring music from the classrooms for the event. Dehydrated, hungry, and sick, I just wanted to leave, but every time I tried, they caught me and reeled me back in.
On a more positive note, sleeping outside has been incredible. I can look up at the stars before I go to sleep, and I’m slowly learning the different constellations. Never in my life before Peace Corps was I so aware of the cycle of the moon. When that’s your only light at night, you pay attention!
April 25th was World Malaria Day, and during my Care Group meeting that day, we sewed and washed mosquito nets. Many people say their nets are useless and they need new ones, but all they really need to do is wash the dust off and sew or tie up the holes. The women learned how easy it is to fix a net, and they will be teaching their mini groups the same lesson. Each woman was given a spool of thread and a needle. Since Nafadji will not be getting any free nets this year or in the foreseeable future, it is important that the villagers take care of their nets and repair them when they get holes. Another problem is that most of the village uses mosquito nets to protect their gardens from pests, but the nets end up getting destroyed in the process. I understand from an agriculture perspective that mosquito nets do protect the vegetables, but from a health perspective, what’s going to protect the family members from getting malaria once the rainy season starts? It’s hard to convince villagers to change this behavior, and I still think that most people in my village just assume they’ll get malaria every year, since that seems to be the trend. It’s frustrating, but this year I want to try to get people who are sick to go straight to the health post to be tested. If they start medication within the first 24 hours of being infected with malaria, they will not transmit it to others. How to get people to go the health post is the next dilemma.
All of my Care Group ladies received t-shirts, which look great on them! I wanted them to be able to distinguish themselves in the village as point people for health questions. I’ll post a picture of the women in their shirts soon! They love them, and I see them wearing them around the village all the time!
This weekend, I’m excited to head to Ethiolo for the Bassari Initiation Ceremony! The Initiation is a rite of passage for the Bassari boys, and they fight wearing masks and traditional attire, and then there’s a celebration afterwards. Some friends and I are camping out the night before and then will attend the ceremony in the morning. I’ll pass through Kedougou on the way there and can’t wait to drink an ice cold water. Drinking hot water when you’re hot is not very satisfying. I can’t wait for the rains to come!
|Sewing up the holes in mosquito nets on World Malaria Day|
|Washing mosquito nets|