12.25.2013

The Day I Plunged my Hand Down my Poop-filled Latrine (And Other Malaria Stories)


Regardless of recent suck-y life events, things are going well in Lomié! I returned back from Bertoua after my awful bus journey upon the Abong Mbang Express and spent the next week malaria-ridden. My bed was finished the day after I got back in town. Unfortuantely, I paid a man to wheelbarrow my bed to my house, but he spent the money on alcohol before the transport, so when he got to my house, he tripped, scratched the entire bed, and then left it out in a storm, which ruined the finish. Thankfully, I bought a nice big can of varnish and repainted the bed and now it looks somewhat better.

The next day I to the hospital as a patient before I start work there. I tested positive for malaria and was sent home with my medication. I spent the weekend relaxing, painting a world map on my wall, painting the Cameroon flag on my windows, painting my kitchen and attempting to get my house all settled in.  On Monday I did protocol with my counterpart at the hospital, Jules. We visited the Sous-Prefet, who was traveling in Abong Mbang, we walked to the gendarmes, the head of which was also out of town, and then visited local chiefs, all of whom were also traveling. After three hours of walking around in the scorching heat (with malaria nonetheless), we gave up.
Maps on maps!

The next few days were spent laying low around the house getting some things done. Wednesday the malaria came back in full force. I spent most of the day back in bed sleeping. Unfortunately my indoor latrine became seriously clogged. The only option to remedy the problem was to glove-up and stick my hand down the latrine and literally scoop out all of my poop by hand, put it in a plastic bag, and dump it in my backyard garbage pit. Sadly, this did little to remedy the problem, and yesterday I was forced to resubmerge my hand in my own crap again. Believe you me, fermented poop neither smells good nor is fun to fish out by hand.

Thursday was spent pretty sick still. I went on a two hour long moto ride with my friend Moussa, who showed me all there is to see in Lomié, which is actually huge and beautiful! I saw all the official government buildings, learned that the hospital and the post office are actually Germany colonial architecture, saw a far away small maternity clinic in the neighborhood of Adjela, which I hope to help out in come January, and saw some other great views of the city.

Sunday morning rolled around and Gustavo, the Colombian VSO volunteer, took me to my postmate Grant’s mushroom project. The mushrooms are now ready to be harvested, and in January we are planning on holding a get-together where we will promote the mushrooms and the project. As the health volunteer and vegetarian, I’m in charge of compiling recipes and making some food samples. It should be a lot of fun! I’d love to get involved in this project’s growth if there is the opportunity because the group who started it is very motivated. Gustavo and I went back to my house after the mushroom site visit and we made corn on the cob together and freshly grilled salted peanuts while we escaped the afternoon heat.

I also recently met with the doctor of the district hospital to discuss what I will do here in Lomié. We agreed that maternal and child health and HIV/AIDS were the largest concerns here, so my projects will mainly revolve around those. Only 15% of women give birth at the hospital, so the doctor really wants me to do sensitization campaigns to raise awareness of the benefits of birthing at the hospital, as well as raising awareness to child vaccinations. I look forward to seeing which projects I end up choosing to pursue!
Repainted and organized kitchen!

Besides that, life here is become routine and I like it! I fill my days repairing my house, painting, and barely relaxing! I’ve made some great friends here in Lomié and I enjoy this town so much! Thankfully my days have been so filled that I haven’t even realized that Christmas is right around the corner. I would altogether forget it is Christmas time if it were not for the French version of ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’ blaring from the bar speakers throughout the day. I am currently in Bertoua for Christmas and I’ll be returning to Lomié and my, by that time, newly tiled home. I will pick up my living room furniture the first week of January and will place my order for my other house furniture. Slowly but surely, things are coming along. As we say, things are bouge­-ing. I’ll keep working on writing updates as I have internet. Until next time,  Joyeux Noel!

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