29 April 2013

This is Not Walking

Everybody has a story.

One of my favorite parts of being an Occupational Therapist in Niger is that I get to help change how that story ends.

Most of the time, when patients come to my office, they are hoping I have some sort of special medication . . . maybe there's a pill the doctor didn't give them which I keep stocked next to the bubbles.  Sometimes, disappointment is written on the patient's face when I explain that I am the medication . . . that my exercises or silly toys are better than a pill . . . or that my adaptive thing-a-ma-bob will make their lives easier.

Sometimes, that realization brings on pure joy.

24 April 2013


So . . . I missed Friday, again.  But since I'm on African Time, I figure this will be right on schedule.  Despite it being the Wednesday Edition, Five-Minute-Friday is brought to you by the GypsyMama.  Rules are simple . . . you get five minutes, type until the timer buzzes, no editing, no polishing, just type.  Today's topic: Jump.


Have you ever seen a person who had polio as a child, legs coiled beneath them?  Well, have you ever seen a person who had polio jump?  Or better yet, do a modified backhand spring?

23 April 2013

A Snapshot from Today

The view from my office window looks out over the back of the hospital property.  The Guidan Baki is our Ambulatory Care Unit.  It is a space where patients with ongoing wound care needs can stay without having to pay for a hospital bed.  It is also where we have our Rehab Center for Malnourished Kiddos.

For most of us, the work day ended 15 minutes ago . . . the sun is setting to the west, frosting the mud buildings with golden light.  The heat of the day is easing, and for a moment, this feels like the most peaceful place in the world.

I love that my office faces the ACU . . . because, when they think I'm not looking, I get to steal a glance at life . . . I get to watch women preparing meals and men washing the few pieces of clothing they have with them at the hospital . . . I get to watch the children of patients play in the dirt and babies who were near death yesterday eat their fill of plumpy-nut.

But I love the ACU most because it is a place of healing.

21 April 2013

One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

Since moving to Niger two years ago, I have spent the majority of my time feeling out of place.  Whether it be my mother-tongue, my nationality, the color of my skin, my age, my gender, my status as an unmarried and childless woman . . . you name it, there has been a time when I'm the only one in the room falling into a certain demographic.

But yesterday, my role as The Odd (wo)Man Out reached a whole new level!

13 April 2013

Perspective Presumptions

This morning I came across an article on the BBC telling the story of a well-educated, well-off, older single lady who is a staunch advocate for freedom of speech and woman's rights in Bamako . . . the capital city of our western neighbor.  The conflict in that country has been ever present in our news and we do feel its affects across our borders.

I love the article because it so clearly communicates a western perspective on an African's situation.  Let me explain.

12 April 2013


It's been a long time since I've found five minutes on a Friday to stop and write.  Sans editing.  Sans creating.  Just pure writing.

It's usually on Mondays that I realize my life whizzed past Five-Minute-Friday and I think to myself 'I'll get it next week.'  And well, here were are, months later.

So no more excuses.  Five minutes.  Ready.  Set.  Write.


11 April 2013

The View From Here: Wild Life

There is a nature reserve in the southwest corner of Niger.  Last week I was able to spend two days out there with some friends.  Word on the street is there are lions prowling about, but we never saw any.  Next time.