30 May 2012

Portraits: Market Day

Every Wednesday folks come from far out in the bush to go shopping, as it's our MarketDay here in Galmi.  Normally, when I go, I don't bother bringing my camera, as most people get angry if I take their photo, or they demand that I pay them for it.

But a few weeks ago, I received an email requesting that I snap a few photos of the World (okay, OUR world) Famous Onions.  The request was to show how onions are grown, harvested, shipped and sold.  Which meant, I'd have to take some photos at the market.

After asking a few old men about capturing a portrait of their purple harvest, I was surprised at how compliant they were.  So, I got up the nerve to starting asking vendors if I could snap a shot (or seven) of them . . . promising to return some day with a copy of the print.  Much to my surprise, only one old man refused!

27 May 2012

Fuel Smuggling in West Africa

Of the burn patients I see in Galmi, the number one cause of burns in males over the age of 16, is gasoline explosions . . . usually as a result of smuggling.  

The petrol is purchased, over our southern border, in Nigeria and then smuggled across to be sold here for a profit (which is still cheaper than at the gas stations).

The BBC has published a photo essay on the gasoline smuggling process . . . granted, they've focused on transportation via the sea . . . something we don't have.  But it's an interesting essay, nonetheless. 

24 May 2012

How Many Translators Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb

It is so fantastic to have another OT here!  M. is a pediatric Occupational Therapist from Canada.  She has jumped in with both feet and we are thrilled she is here!  She brings a new perspective and brand new energy to our little department.

B. and I are already learning a lot!

So, this morning we hung out for a little while in the PMI, the Under-Five-Clinic, so that M. could get a feel for what types of diagnoses we see here in Galmi and what is 'typical' for kids here.  But this afternoon was Screaming-Baby-Clinic . . . I mean, Club-Foot-Clinic, so we were back in my office.

After we were done, we watched and translated as M. eval-ed two babies who are having trouble with breastfeeding and are not gaining weight.  M. showed the Mamas some stimulation exercises to help 'wake their mouths up' before trying to feed them.

While we were seeing the second one, two women walked into the pediatric ward asking to see D├ęborah. But really, they didn't want to see me, they wanted to see this new Baby-Whisperer.

22 May 2012

How Quickly I Forget

I'm not going to lie.  Sometimes it's good to get away.  And sometimes it's hard to come back again.

This morning I returned to Galmi from the capital.  I had gone for an appointment at the USEmbassy, and stayed for a few days of rest . . . which turned into a few more when I decided to stick around to meet a visiting OT at the airport.

Normally I'm ready to go back home after a few days in the 'big city'.  But this time, I didn't want to go.  I didn't want to particularly stay either; I just wasn't ready to go back.

19 May 2012

When Things Go Wrong

I'm a design girl, myself.  As in . . . Intelligent Design.  I believe God is a whole lot more creative and brilliant than we could ever hope to be . . . and our human bodies are just more proof of it. 

What an amazing machine He made for us!  We run and jump and see and hear!  Our thumbs oppose!  Our toes wiggle!  Our skin sweats! (okay, maybe not where YOU live . . . but here, our pores are at it ALL day . . . and night!)

But what happens when something goes wrong?  When one cog rebells from the rest of the wheel?  When a rogue system deviates from the plan?

For most of the world, the best personification of this is Cancer.  But this week, in Niger, it was Osteogenesis Imperfecta.

15 May 2012



Something tells me that number is about to change my life.



That's right!  It's OFFICIAL!


14 May 2012

The Rains of Hope

I'm on the bus again. Heading west for an appointment in the capital.  Out the window, the ground is brittle.  Girls carry water jugs on their heads between the well and the village.  Sandy riverbeds lay exposed.  Eleven months ago, where shades of green painted the landscape, there is nothing but brown, orange, red and yellow.

But change is coming.

The other day, I was standing at the main entrance of the hospital. It was late afternoon and I had left a patient's bedside for a front-row seat of this year's first rain storm.

08 May 2012

In the Land of Men

Yesterday I was present for a C-Section.  It was amazing.

But after the baby was born and Mama's uterus was stitched closed, the OB prepared her for a tubal ligation . . . which for the rest of the world is just a fancy way of saying, she was about to have her tubes tied.

Baby Boy was Mama's tenth baby.  But he was only the fifth to survive.  And she was done.  

She looked to be about my age and she didn't want to have any more children.  

As she was prepped for the C-Section, the Chef du Bloc Operatoire entered the surgical theatre and began speaking strongly in Hausa.  There was a lot of back and forth between the men in the room.  I understood: 'her husband,' 'he doesn't want,' 'don't continue,' 'there will be problems.'

06 May 2012

Lessons on the Anticipation of the Yoke

I’ve been asked by one of our docs to do the wound care and limb wrapping of a 13 year old boy with abscesses in both of his lower legs and knees.  I was asked to see him because he has hemophilia . . . a disorder in which the blood doesn’t clot . . . and that makes his case a little more complicated.
Due to his blood disorder, we’ve been asked to put him under anesthesia only if necessary.  So I work gently and slowly . . . and use my (very) limited Hausa to try to distract him from what is going on.
Sometimes it works, but most of the time, the anticipation of what may hurt consumes his attention and he whines and whimpers, afraid of how bad it will be when the pain actually does come.
And the more honest I am with myself, the more I realize that I do the same thing . . . only with God.

01 May 2012

Portraits: Premier Mai

Today was Labor Day, which means instead of working we had a party.  The hospital employees spent the day cooking a meal of roasted ram and sauce (seasoned with all the rams' insides) . . . and then we all congregated on the tennis court for music and dancing, speeches and games . . . and of course, eating.  Everyone was dressed in their best, and we had a great time.  Thought you'd enjoy some shots from the evening.