Between the rains.. the current going out and my bad diet of carbohydrates.. and coffee.. i am looking forward returning to the modern conveniences of life
Regardless of all of these difficutlies that everyone here lives with all their lives.. i have been able to achieve alot
1. We have buitl 10 trash bins to be placed next to the existing one is town so food scraps can be recycled..
2. A water project for the village of Baichu has been finished with 2 standpipes and a sink outside of the toilets at the primary school.
the school had no water so the children used the hems of their clothes to clean themselves after using the toilets which use chemicals to
break down the waste.
3. the continuation of the child sponsor program..of 39 students.. we pay school fees and recycle books we have bought to the new students
4. I have been counseling at the high school comparing the lives of poor students to the better students.
5. The milk program has been growing at GBHS.. each month.
Week 4 Fundong
As I was leaving the house, my neighbor Alexi was going to trek thirty minutes with her nine month old son to school where she teaches first grade. Carrying him on her back, a piece of cloth wrapped around the child and tied over her breasts, has become difficult since he weighs over 25 lb. I gave her 150 franc (25c) to take a bike instead.
When she comes back from school each day, she goes to the communal tap up the road, filling plastic containers and carrying them back on her head. The outdoor toilet is behind the house. The shower is a bucket of water. And she cooks on an electric hot plate or over a wood fire outside. The small room where she lives is like a storage unit, boxes, suitcases, piles of clothes, her life . There is always a strong odor of urine and sweat, but I am the only one who notices it. She never complains, no one does.
My neighbor Clarice came over with her brother who is 17, two years younger than her but already at university. She failed her final high school exams last year while she was pregnant with her second child. She is planning on trying again in June. She had to pay 33,000 franc to take the exam. So much for public school. Her brother is studying computer sciences but he can’t afford a laptop or tablet.
Hawa, the sister of a Muslim motorcycle driver I met last year, is the only one of ten siblings that is finishing high school and going on to university. Her father has three wives and 20 children. She is a child of the first wife.
One of the Peace Corp volunteers was spotted on a motorbike without her helmet. Since this is grounds for dismissal, she called me and begged my approval to tell her supervisor that she had been home all day and it was probably Lois . As Africans here look alike to us, whites look alike to the Africans.
Last year, a few days before I left Fundong, I visited a support group for people living with HIV and AIDS. The woman leading the group, Helamina, had a thirteen year old daughter living with HIV since she was six. but could not get the meds until her T-cell count was below 350. Her previous tests had been high but she hadn’t been tested in a year. Looking at her legs, I saw lesions and knew it was Kaposi Sarcoma(KS). The doctor at the local hospital disagreed with me, and refused to give her medicine. I gave her 5000 fr for the T-cell test.
I met Helamina this week and found out her daughter had had a t-cell of 212 and KS. She was immediately put on the meds last year; today she is free of KS, no longer fatigued and back in high school.
When I went up to the HIV clinic at the local hospital to talk to a nurse about the cost of T-cell tests, there was a line of young enough women waiting to pick up their monthly supply of meds. There was a woman in Helamina’s group who had trekked 2.5 hours from a remote village. The nurse explained when the woman came last year to be tested, she had a t-cell count of 15. And then she trekked back again.
The pharmacist who runs the clinic, was frustrated with the lack of understanding the patients had toward their situation. Even after being diagnosed with the virus, advised to tell their partners, not have anymore pregnancies, they did none of the above. And there were many who came, tested positive and refused the drugs. And possibly went back to their village and spread the virus. How do you educate an illiterate, superstitious, poverty stricken population living in rural villages without the financial help of their government?
A few days ago I arranged for 12 women and children from the Aids support group to meet at the local hospital to have their T-cell numbers updated. I paid for the tests and gave each of the children a 100 fr to buy a sweet….. probably the first money they were ever given.