So we are facing a fairly logistically challenging couple of weeks. I’ll be leaving to meet Mary and Christy in Senegal in a few days! We will be returning in a week, just a few days prior to the onslaught of major church activity occurring in Foria. Over a dozen ‘toubaboos’ from U.S., Ghana, Canada and Nigeria will be arriving to witness and participate in the celebration of the new CRC. I think it is finally ‘sinking in’ to the event-planning team that it is going to be a really big deal, so now the issues of housing, feeding and transporting the 800 anticipated visitors are rapidly surfacing. So, I’m in my element: making lists, attending meetings, etc., though trying to stay reconciled to the truth: the sun will rise…
I spent the day at the Nar Sarah Clinic yesterday. Theresa was the sole health practitioner on duty, as Peacemaker (‘Peace’) was as a governmental hospital for a conference. The clinic was hopping – though no more than ‘normal.’ I observed the appointments of:
1) A woman with malaria with two children ‘in tow;’ one of which had worms and a bad cough.
2) A young woman in the first trimester of her first pregnancy, along with her husband. She was occasionally bleeding and they were concerned.
3) A child (with mother) who had a terrible burn from boiling water on his stomach. They had been in several times, and the burn was healing well.
4) A pregnant woman with a bad case of worms. She had been waiting until her second trimester for treatment as the drugs can cause miscarriage; but she was having real difficulty eating.
5) Someone coming in for the second in a series of chloroquin injections (to cure malaria).
6) A baby with a swollen ‘fontanel’ (top of head). Theresa asked them to come back the next day to see Peace.
7) A woman in her third trimester, with a series of aggravations.
8) An elderly woman with an infection between her toes (likely caused from standing in stagnant swamp water while rice farming).
9) A woman with major skin irritation.
10) A man with a ‘post-injury’ infection. He received an injection of penicillin and ibuprofen for the pain.
Theresa is the dispenser of matter-of-fact wisdom. She told the ‘expecting father’ to quit making his wife carry water, firewood or pound rice. She doles out very basic medicine, most frequently: chloroquin injections, pain killers, ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution), worm medicine and oral antibiotics. She takes her time though, listening to people and making sure that they understand the treatment. It’s her contention that people often want ‘medicine’ (pills) to make things better, when more healthful practices are really what are needed. “They think that drugs make blood. Drugs do not make blood, they give you energy to find, prepare and eat food. Good food and good diet make blood. If you just take the drugs and don’t eat – they will not help you.” She chastised a few of the pregnant women on this count, telling them that if they did not eat better (and she was very specific) they would die. No one takes you very seriously unless you state things in the extreme.
The conflict between the Fula and the Limba has resulted in a public hearing, which is transpiring in the town square today. I need to amend my last post to say that the ‘truth’ turns out to be somewhere in the middle of the two versions of the ‘story’ I represented. Cows have been killed; this resulted in a Fula rancher killing a Limba boy. No ‘retaliation’ has taken place - yet. The Paramount Chief is in an awkward position, as he is a Limba who is married to a Fula woman. He is one of the two Paramount Chiefs in Kabala (which sits on the border of Sengbeh and Wara-Wara-Yagalah chiefdoms). His inclination was to see if he could wait for things to ‘blow over.’ This precipitated his initial reaction: that the issue would not be addressed until the taxes have been collected for this region. However, the ‘district officers’ (Freetown governmental representatives) were drawn in, as this is a murder case. Thankfully, due attention is now being given to the situation. IMATT, UN officials and others have come to witness the proceedings, as this has been deemed a 'regional issue' with many small grievances (and some big ones) being addressed.
With the help of Aaron and a Sierra Leonean man who works for Red Cross, I was able to secure permission from the police to take a few pictures, which I will put on the website as soon as ‘uploading’ pictures is possible. The pavilion is so crowded that it is difficult to get in to see the actual proceedings, but outside the pavilion, crowds are peacefully assembled in the streets and on balconies of nearby houses with huge banners. One pictorially depicts the shooting followed by an X through a cow, with the header “Enough is Enough.” Others read: “Cows, Yes! Uncontrolled Cows, No!!” (again, illustrated – with fences and cows), “Where are the Authorities?” and “Respect my Place.” I am hopeful that all will go well - though there is some volatile 'talk' in town.
Enough is Enough
Protect Farmers Now!
Well, that’s the news from Kabala-town, where the women are very strong (I tried pounding plantains yesterday) and the men are quite good looking (Paul keeps getting told that he looks very ‘fit’ for an ‘old pa’). Quite contrary to the 7 degree blizzard that many of you are facing in the Midwest, the dusty heat kicking in by 10 AM prevents us from moving faster than a slow stroll. Smiles & winks have replaced pats & hugs as expressions of affection because I am known to growl, ‘too hot!’ I just spoke with Christy Wassenaar who is having a surreal time packing t-shirts and tank tops in the midst of a blizzard – but trust me, you will want them!
Grace and peace to each of you,