It’s so nice to be busy! This month, I have lots to do and time is flying. Earlier this week, the Jeune Relais passed through all of the middle school classes to do a 10 minute presentation on family planning, HIV/AIDS, and STI’s, along with a condom demonstration. The 12 Jeune Relais divided into 2 groups of 6, and I went with one group and Ngom (an English teacher) went with the other group. I felt so proud of these students as I watched them teach their peers with such confidence. It was interesting to watch them do the presentations in front of students who had no prior knowledge of any of the issues being discussed, and none of them had ever seen a condom demonstration. Sporting their green t-shirts, the Jeune Relais looked like pros, spreading sexual health knowledge to the school.
I was extremely impressed with the openness of the principal to allow the Jeune Relais to talk about these topics that are taboo in most other villages. One teacher told me that he’s never heard of students this young teaching other students about these issues, and he was excited that it was happening at his school since many of his female students are getting pregnant. Ngom and I had a good conversation about the project, and he said he’s interested to see what this community will be like in 5 to 10 years, since these students are gaining important health knowledge at a young age. Maybe less teens will get pregnant. Maybe less people will get sexually transmitted infections. One teacher told me he never knew how to properly use a condom and learned from the students that it is necessary to leave room at the tip. . We’ve opened the door for discussion, and people are willing to talk.
Now that the rains have begun, malaria has started hitting the village. A couple kids on my compound have already gotten it, but thankfully Mbamoussa took them to the health post right away to get them on medication. Since malaria is a pertinent topic, our Care Group has continued to work on ways to help the community protect themselves. Last meeting we sewed and washed mosquito nets, and this week we made neem lotion, a natural mosquito repellent. We held the meeting under a tree, and all the women took turns boiling neem leaves, cutting soap, stirring the lotion, and bagging it. Neem lotion is very easy and inexpensive to make. All you need are neem leaves, water, soap, and oil. Fighting against malaria in my village seems futile sometimes, since everyone seems to get it every year. All I can really do is encourage people to sleep under mosquito nets, wear neem lotion, and go directly to the health post to get tested for malaria if they have the symptoms.
Another project I’m working on right now is a scholarship for middle school girls for next year. I’ll explain more about this in another blog.
The rains have brought a whole new batch of creepy crawlers. It’s scorpion season again, so I’m scanning the ground with a flashlight when I walk anywhere at night now. Luckily, whenever I see one, there is usually a group of kids who are happy to kill it with a stick. My fight against the massive brown ants that nested in both of my doors is back. The other day, there were so many crawling all over that I couldn’t even see part of the wall. A mouse has also decided that my hut would make a nice home for it, and it has been trying to create some sort of bed out of the straw in my roof. I have swept the little nest away multiple times, but this mouse is persistent.
My host family and I have very different fears when it comes to bugs, rodents, and reptiles. They are deathly afraid of lizards and toads and believe that if they bite you, you will die. I laugh at this and make fun of them all the time. But, they think it’s hilarious that I’m afraid of a mouse. They always tell me the mouse wont do anything, but I still hate having it in my hut. I don’t mind the lizards, because they stick to the walls, but this mouse could be anywhere! Diabou and I now have a running joke about toads and mice. She tells me the mouse is going to crawl into my bed at night, and I tell her the toads are nice and warm in her room. When I go to bed at night, she tells me to greet my mouse, and I tell her to greet her toads.
Sounkharou is still waiting to get the papers to go to Spain and came back to Nafadji with Sira for a little while. It has been so nice to play with Sira again! She’s talking so much more now, and she makes me laugh every day. Her cute little voice makes it difficult for me to understand what she’s saying a lot of the time though. The other night, she was tugging on my leg, saying “Aitata, m’taa, m’taa”. Finally, I realized that she was standing there asking me to pick her up so she could fall asleep in my lap. Aww, I love Sira.
The other day, I was weighing babies at the health post, and Khadidia (the woman whose birth I helped out with) brought her baby girl, Kanio, to be weighed. She’s so big now! Babies really do mark time for me here. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I saw Kanio being born, and now she’s 6 months old. Where does the time go?