This was the first time I've been west of the capital . . . and I couldn't believe how remarkably different it was! The earth was a brilliant rust, and there were trees everywhere! And not just the same stubby trees we have out east, but tropical-junglish trees!! And the people look different . . . we have some Fulani out in Galmi, but they're different Fulani . . . it's sort of a subtle difference, but it's there.
J. and her hubby have a wonderful little compound . . . it's quiet, even with people coming and going. Y. and her father were there waiting when we arrived. She sat staring at her feet, with a beautiful cobalt scarf on her head, which hung in such a way that hid a good portion of her face.
Even though it didn't fit properly, Y. has been faithfully wearing the hood that was made for her. Unfortunately, it hasn't helped with the scaring the way the shirt has. It is as if she has a beard made of rope, running from ear to ear. But as soon as she smiles, the glitter in her eyes overshadows the scars.
I laid out all of my equipment on the table and explained the process to Y. and her dad. I let them feel the plastic and touch the Silon that will be next to her skin. I explained how this soft, cool material will help the scar tissue to soften, so that the pressure from the plastic mask will help to lower the height of the scars.
I explained that we would need to cover her entire face with plaster gauze and for a few minutes she would need to breathe through a plastic straw . . . which, until yesterday, she had never even seen before!
As she laid down and allowed J. and I to lather her face with vaseline (to keep the plaster from adhering to her skin), we reminded her that she is the bravest girl we know . . . she wore her courage beautifully, but watching the beating of her heart through the pulse at her neck, I knew she was terrified inside. She was completely vulnerable again as plaster covered her eyes, nose and mouth . . . for a few minutes, her only life-supply was a small plastic straw through which she could draw air into her lungs.
But it worked!
We built up the edges and began mixing the plaster. Wanting to keep the drying time to a minimum, we added water slowly, making a thick paste . . . as I began to press the paste into the mold, the plaster began to dry and solidify.
But it was drying TOO quickly!!
It wasn't working!!
Within a few seconds, majority of the plaster in the mixing bowl was hard . . . we scrambled to add more water hoping to salvage what hadn't yet hardened . . . since it's not like there's a hardware store around the corner!
Our four hands-combined were mixing and splashing . . . I had plaster splattered all over the front of me and even on my face! Talk about a mess!!
But it worked . . . except, now it was too runny and watery.
Plan B: we through the whole thing in the oven . . . set it low, hoping to dry it out a little more rapidly. After an hour, the very little bit that had solidified was starting to crack. Fearing that might happen on the face-side, we turned off the oven, and set it outside in the sun.
After another hour in the sun, we had lunch.
Another hour still, and it had made some promising progress. Not enough to be able to pull the mask before sunset, but progress is progress. So I will be going out again next week to finish it.
Stay tuned for more Adventures in Mask Pulling, Village Style.