Friday, April 20, 2007

60 days and counting!

Real quick life update… First of all, I will be home in TWO months!! That is the best news of all…. Except that my friends Emily and Keith (in America) just had their first baby… a little girl!!! As sad as I am to not be able to meet her, I did get to see her photo shoot on the internet, and she is beautiful!

In BF news…. As the heat rises and the sweat pours out in buckets from my pores, I am as excited as ever to return to America, where there is the option of air conditioning and pools. Bizarrely though, the last two days in village we had an unusual amount of rainfall that was early for the rainy season. It brought much needed cool air, but it also dumped a huge quantity of water on us… So much water in fact, that it cut my village in two parts. Being that our bridge is still crumbled into the river, there is now no way of crossing from my side of the village to the other side without having to walk through rushing water. And after the last two days, there was enough rushing water to go white water rafting in. Class 5. Seriously the amount and speed of the water was no joke and I had to wait on my side of the bridge for 3 hours until the water subsided enough to be able to pass through the river when it was less high (up to my shins) and rushing a lot less. About a month and a half ago, some big time city workers had come to village to begin rebuilding the bridge. But being the way things work here in Africa, they got off to a great start but after two weeks they’ve disappeared, nowhere to be seen to finish the job. What they did was come through with a bulldozer to remove the crumbled concrete and level the ground a bit to begin preparations of the groundwork. They even hauled in from Bobo large quantities of sand and gravel and even iron to reinforce the new concrete bridge. But alas, we are still waiting for the concrete to arrive. Therefore, the ground was level and the piles of material have been sitting on the side of the road for a few weeks now….waiting, waiting….. And then the rains came and swept away a bunch of those materials down the river, and the ground is no longer level. It has in fact become a deep crevasse that makes traversing the river near impossible and very dangerous. So that is the bridge situation.

School is OK. I’m so unmotivated and so are the kids, especially when you consider the heat factor. But I’m getting through the rest of the year and there really is only about one month of work left. Yay! After that, you will never see me in front of a classroom again. Ever. In my life. If I learned one thing in these two years, it is that teaching is not for me.

The one extremely unfortunate piece of news that has happened in the last week was the death of my good friend’s 7 year old son. It was actually ten times more horrible than it normally would have been because I actually watched him pass away. Last Sunday, I was in town with a friend and heard that our friend, Karim’s son – Ilassa - was in the hospital (health care facility – no electricity or running water – try to imagine what kind of health care you could get). So we decided to stop by and see what was happening and wish our best to the family for a good recovery. When we got to the hospital, Ilassa was hooked up to an IV and unconscious. He took these extremely deep breaths every minute or so, but on the exhale it was like his face got stuck and he took a few seconds to exhale correctly. After about ten minutes of watching him with his family and the doctor putting some fluids in his IV, we all watched his heart stop beating. Just like that. It was one of the worst moments in the entire time I’ve been here, as you may imagine. Ilassa was one of the quietest boys ever, who used to be afraid of me and has gradually grown to accept shaking my hand to greet me and even began being courageous enough to call out my name “POKO” when he was with his friends and he saw me. He was in his first year of school and the oldest child of my friend Karim. Karim was so proud of him because he, himself, is illiterate and never went to school but has vowed to send all of his kids to school. Karim is a guy who is big and tough but sweet at the same time, and to see him sobbing over the death of his boy really hurt to watch. It was really heart wrenching. I don’t even know what sickness he had. Right now it is meningitis season and it has already killed many people all over the country. But I think Ilassa may have died of malaria, based on the symptoms people were saying he had. It’s just hard to say because no one really asks those questions. They just tell you “he died, he was sick” - end of story…. So it’s sort of frustrating but understandable because unfortunately death is a relatively common event. People just don’t look to investigate what happens every time. I think I’ve been to more funerals in my two years here than in my whole life in the states.

So sorry to end on a really sad note, but that has been what’s been going on over here. It was a sad week. Next blog I hope to have better news to share with you… If I had my way it would go something like this: “Guess what everyone??? We have a brand new structurally sound bridge in Padema!! Complete with guard rails and night light reflectors to protect people!! Also, the hospital now has electricity and running water and there is a health care system in place so no one is afraid to go to hospital (to avoid having to pay money) and the care is TOP NOTCH! Kids have been getting vaccinated against meningitis, yellow fever, and TB. The road has also been paved, so my village is now getting a constant stream of merchants who bring fruits and vegetables to us on a daily basis. Life is good, and everyone’s happy and healthy! …. And I LOVE teaching!!”

Um…. Yeah. Back to reality…..


At April 23, 2007 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there Miss Stephaine. Harmen and I just logged on to check up on you and we saw that the final countdown has begun. I can not believe that you will be home soon, your two years have gone by fast but not fast enough. I am sure everyone has so much to share with you, I knnow that we do. We can not wait to see you, Harmen is looking forward to a hug! (Since you are the best bugger ever!) I love all the great pictures but I can not wait to hear all the stories. You look great, you look so happy and free...I am jealous of you, since we are all here living corporate american DREAM. We wish you the best of luck on your final leg and I hope you have figured it ALL out because I don't know if we can live without you for another two years...
Talk to you soon.... Jenn and Harmen

At April 30, 2007 2:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey miss stephanie! i am so sorry to hear about your friend's child. that is so heartbreaking. i really wish that you could sign off your blog and say that all of those things were great, too. you have to remember, though, so many of those kids' lives will never be the same since you've been there. you're tired and ready to come home now, but you really did accomplish amazing things.

my life and career has completely changed - i can't wait for us to get together and talk about everything. i really miss you.

MOST importantly, we need to get some plan making underway for your welcome home party!!

stay safe and blog whenever you can. can't wait to hear that your plane ticket is booked!!!

love you - xoxo Samantha

At May 01, 2007 8:28 AM, Anonymous Wendy said...

I haven't written in a while, but I've been stalking you via your blog. Hopefully, you will be able to visit Western Jersey upon your return. Then, Grace & I can take you out for a fattening American chain restaurant meal (unless you want to hit up Dover again : )

Stay Well...

At May 30, 2007 10:13 PM, Anonymous Jen said...

Hey Steph
I just wanted you to know that, even though I havent commented, I have been reading the stories in your blog these last 2 years. I hope we can get together when you get back so I can tell you in person how impressed I am by your dedication to the Peace Corps. Ive been living in Vermont and studying environmental law for the past year, but Im frequently home visiting the NYC area. And you are welcome to come up to Vermont anytime to frolic amongst the green mountains and trees, tube in our clean river, and eat lots of cheese and pancakes for a nice change from Burkina Faso. Good luck with your last month in Africa! We have all really missed you!


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