04 September 2008

The Leprosy Hospital at Danja

I've finally made it to a leprosy hospital! (You all must think I'm insane . . . who says something like that?? But I can't help myself. Leprosy fascinates me!)

On Monday, I took a bus from Galmi to Maradi (the second largest city in Niger . . . yet it is still smaller than Mt. Laurel). We were prepared for anything -- the roads are so bad here, that it is more uncommon to arrive without a breakdown or road blockage (or it-rained-last-night-and-washed-the-entire-span-of-road-away) than to be delayed for several hours. But God is good. He knows how to ease me in gently!! We had to wait two hours for the bus to arrive, but once we were on, no problems. We were even sitting right behind the driver, so I've got some video of a passing town and another of the crazy overtaking . . . I will edit them down and post them eventually.

Danja Hospital is beautiful! They've just finished a new ward and physiotherapy gym. The patients come for treatment for several months or years, so they take a lot of pride and ownership of the facilities. I met the most beautiful people there!

Helen, an OT from Australia, is currently training a Nigerien man to take over the PT department so that she can concentrate more on Leprosy control. She shared an abundance of good ideas and advice as I now prepare to come back and set up a physio dept at Galmi. I've definitely got my work cut out for me!

At one point, while Helen had some work to do, I wandered around and found some of the women sitting weaving. I sat down to watch. Within minutes, I was handed some reeds and included in the mix. They taught me two different techniques -- one was more of a braid, and the other was a circular pattern. Both of which they use to make large mats. We had such a good time -- they laughed at my initial inability to coordinate, but by the time I caught on, I could see how satisfied they were that I was doing something every woman should have already known how to do!

They tried teaching me some Hausa . . . that wasn't nearly as successful as the weaving. They laughed and laughed at me as I stumbled over every incorrect syllable. On woman even said "What's this? She can weave but she can't speak Hausa?!?!"

And of course, a visit anywhere would not be complete without a marrage proposal. There was an older man, a patient with leprosy, who asked me to marry him. I told him I was only interested in being the first wife . . . none of this second or third wife business. He laughed at that. The Hausa have such a great sense of humor! I really have laughed a lot with them. (This is him to the right.)

Here are some more photos of Danja. Enjoy.


Megan Schell said...

thank you so much for opening a small window into niger for me (and us). bless you!

Megan Schell said...

thank you so much for opening a small window into niger for me (and us). bless you!