03 May 2011

Le Premier Mai

Sunday was 1 May . . . in Niger, it's Labor Day.  So every year the compound hosts an evening of festivities, along with a meal, for the entire hospital staff.  Five women do the cooking for nearly 200 staff.  It takes them all day, between chopping and cooking.  Figuring it a good opportunity to practice the cultural concept of 'physical presence speaks louder than words' I brought my knife and came to help.

They put me to work chopping tomatoes.  I sat down ready to do some damage and the Nigerien woman I was working with took one look at my my little paring knife and suggested I use the spare machete.  I tried.  But after a few seconds we were both thoroughly concerned that I'd end up with more bits of finger in the bowl than tomato, so I switched back to something more familiar.  I will simply say, it's harder than it looks to chop (VERY ripe) tomatoes in a completely different way than you've done your whole 30 years!  Talk about a new motor pattern!  But I'm happy to report that by the end of the afternoon only 3 of 10 fingers were sporting bandaids . . . now that's what I call victory.

As for the rest of the evening, I'll let the photos speak for themselves.  Enjoy!

Not sure what she said, but clearly I found it very funny.

Nigerien Cooking Secret: if you chop the onions outside, you don't cry.

All the 'tasty' bits.
Tomati! (note the difference in the size of our knives!)
Caldrons of ram's meat and red sauce.
How's that for a big kitchen!
The Staff Soccer Game kicked off the festivities.

I never did figure out which team was which.
No grass + no rain = dust.

Everyone came dressed in their best.
I confess, I was this cranky too, having to wear
so much pattern.
It was fun to see everyone out of their work clothes
feeling much more relaxed.

Chairs and benches lined the perimeter of the tennis court and each
section was determined by department.

Many of the West Wing and B-Ward nurses that I work with.  (The style
of my dress is the same as those on the left . . . it was a stretching moment
for me . . . not going to lie.  Hmm . . . based on style, I may be transferring to
B-Ward soon!)

Our fearless leaders.
The ceremony began with singing and dancing.
(I was dragged out there to dance with the women, but
lasted only until those around me exchanged teaching
their moves for uncontrollable laughter at my expense.
Hey!  I'm an OT because I can teach motor skills, not
because I have any!)
After a short message from our chief evangelist, there
were speeches, which were followed by games, then
dinner: Stewed ram (and all his parts) with bread . . .
we each got an enormous bowl and half a 'baguette'.  That's it.
No fork.  No knife.  No spoon.  We ate the way God intended:
with our hands.  (which is a tricky feat when eating sauce!)
Everyone enjoyed the relaxed nature of the event.
And those with cameras were sure to use them.


Ryniakg said...

I really enjoyed your pictures. Beautiful colors. Love you. Gloria

Shal said...

Gorgeous! Love it!

Bethany Reamer said...

great picture! i love your smile... i miss it!