Friday, April 1, 2011

odds and ends

I would like to reiterate that it is hot. Even Togolese say so. I am in Guerin-Kouka right now using my friend Karen’s house and electricity. She has a fan. It is heavenly.

The other day I went out to another village close to Nampoch with a friend of mine. We stopped by this one house to saluate some of his friends/relatives. The mother asked if I happened to know of any medicines that could help her 8-ish year old son. He obviously had some kind of mental issue. With my friend translating Konkumba into French I figured out that the kid had had a brain aneurysm. I explained what that was, and drew a picture his mother. My diagnosis met with universal approval and I instantly got a reputation in that village as someone who is medically inclined. Anyway, as I sat there, I realized that the kid has little to no hope. His parents, or even his village, have nowhere near the resources needed to take him to a brain doctor, or to pay for an operation, if surgery like that is even possible in Togo. The kid went from being normal one day to being messed up for the rest of his life the next. Its something that’s hard for me to wrap my mind around. Be glad you live someplace where you can go to an Emergency Room and get patched up.

The rest of my visit to that village, Kpamboea, was better. I went to someone else’s house and got to talk about soja, stockage, and women’s groupements. And everyone gave me guinea fowl eggs. That’s never happened before.

I got a short-wave radio a couple weeks ago so that I could listen to BBC. I think I got it just in time to hear about how an international coalition is blowing up Libya. Anyway, as I sat there flipping through the 9 bands of shortwave for the first time, the whistle of dead airwaves launched me into this weird isolated, existential moment where, even though I was in my courtyard surrounded by people, I felt alone in the world. It was a weird moment. But I really like my new radio even though its hard to get good reception even with 9 bands of shortwave.

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