31 January 2013

Coming Back

I've been back 'home' for a couple of days . . . and finally left my unpacking to go say my hellos up at the hospital.

As I made my typical morning commute, I was stopped nearly every three steps by another workman laying covering dirt over new water pipes around the property.  After the initial gasp once I was recognized, we'd go through the regular welcome-back greetings: how was the road . . . how is your mother . . . and your father . . . and your fourth cousin, twice removed . . . and how is the cold season back in America . . . and how is your father's house . . . and have you come back alone, or did you FINALLY get married, because we have been praying that you hurry up and stop wasting any more time (tick-tock, tick-tock).

30 January 2013

The Masquerade - Part IV

I was scheduled to head out to the village last Saturday to finally pull Y.'s face mask.  But, as is common in these parts, plans changed at the last minute.  J. and I flexed to the reality of life in Niger and decided we'd try again on Monday . . . only this time, Y. would come to me.

Borrowing the kitchen, dining room and living room of my favorite Niamey peeps, I spread my tools out and waited for J. to arrive with Y. and her dad in tow.

Finally, the moment of truth arrived.

24 January 2013

The Masquerade - Part III

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!

22 January 2013

Une Chinoise

When I was in New Delhi, the family I lived with used to insist that someone down the line in my genealogy was from India . . . they couldn't understand where else my dark hair and dark eyes might come from.  Insisting otherwise didn't do any good.

On my arrival in Niger I was continually asked which city in France I was from . . . and once at an international border, the guard at passport control looked at my last name and began speaking to me in Italian!

But this is the first time I've ever been accused of being 'Chinese'!!

20 January 2013

The Masquerade - Part II

The bad news is . . . the mask didn't get pulled.  The good news is, there will be a Part III.

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.

18 January 2013

The Masquerade - Part I

About a week after I returned to the States in July, I received word that a 14 year-old girl, Y., in a village west of Niger's capital had been severely burned from the chest up.  Her father works in the SIM village medical clinic run by a tremendous nurse, J., who was involved in her care from the beginning.

J. and I began emailing . . . she needed a crash-course in burn care.  We wrote back-and-forth about the wound healing process and the need for early and frequent movement, how (and why) to stretch, the necessity for compression garments down the road, and the reality that this would be a very long process (both physically and emotionally).

16 January 2013

The Normal I Forgot

Six months isn't really THAT long.  But it isn't really THAT short either!  Though clearly, it's long enough to forget . . . yet short enough to still feel normal.

Like, I forgot what it's like to fly over a city that has no grass . . . but the red earth was so natural.

And I forgot how dirty my feet get walking around . . . but it feels like part of the dress code.