If I have come to learn anything in Niger, it is that nothing (as in NO-THING) works/happens/comes to pass in the way I expected.
And pulling this mask for Y. has been no exception! (You can catch up on Part I and Part II here and here.)
That's right friends . . . it STILL hasn't happened! C'est la vie!
I arrived out in the village with a spring in my step and . . . not gonna' lie . . . a few butterflies in my stomach. You see, if this were happening in the US, it would have already been finished. But this is a place where things 'take three times as long and cost three times as much' (as Black-Market-M. always says).
The plaster had four days to dry . . . and this time, it was! But it had seemed to have shrunk a little bit . . . pulling away from the plaster-gauze mold completely . . . or, at least I thought completely.
I flipped it over and let the plaster-positive of Y.'s face drop into my other hand.
For a few seconds I just stood there blinking at it.
She looked like the Sphynx!
The nose had completely broken off and was still inside the mold!!
I tried to free it, but it wouldn't budge!
J. had been busy with something else; she leaned over my shoulder, 'How does it look---oh,' her voice sunk.
It was a total fail.
We shrugged our shoulders and decided to start all over again!
I mean, what else could we do!?!?
Only, this time, we didn't have any plaster-of-paris left in order to fill the mask. So, like so many parts of this process, we improvised.
Putting aside a roll and a half of plaster-gauze that is used for casting up broken arms, we opened five packages and began tearing off strips. We pressed and rolled and crinkled those strips until every bit of plaster powders was removed. Most went into the bowl . . . or on the table around the bowl . . . on into the dust cloud forming above our heads (or maybe that was own personal rain-cloud of misadventures) . . . and all over our hands, arms, and clothes.
But like the five loaves and two fish, those little gauze rolls were multiplied into a bowl of plaster.
When Y. arrived with her father, and little sister in tow (what a cutie!!), we explained what happened. Taking their cue from us, we all had a good, hearty laugh over the whole thing.
Y. understood that she would have to lay there, breathing through a straw (which we cut down to make much easier for her) and trust us, all over again.
And like the first time, she was incredibly brave.
While the mask of her face dried, we took another look at her scars . . . we had talked her father through making some adjustments (he's a tailor) to the compression-shirt we had made for her. He had done a really nice job of what he could to help it lay better to provide compression on the scars. They had been checking her skin everyday for potential wound formation . . . and everything was going well.
He had also tightened up the hood . . . and in just four days we saw a significant difference on her face! Standing in front of his daughter, his eyes twinkled as he, himself, recognized the difference that the pressure was making. Needless to say, we are all anxious for this mask to be finished!
I'm not sure how long it took, but I left the mold for several hours . . . I didn't want to risk screwing it up AGAIN.
But just before I had to leave to head back into the city, we cautiously pulled the gauze off . . . and there she was!! Y.'s sweet face--the stark-white-version--was staring back at us. I showed J. where to run her finger to feel the 'scars' and explained how we would ensure enough pressure would be exerted on them.
We didn't have time to pull the mask before I needed to go, so I will go back again . . . in a few days.
Stay tuned for Part IV . . . hmm . . . I wonder if it's possible to catch up to StarWars with all these sequels!!