Sunday, February 7, 2010

I find myself thinking about the story of the three little pigs. Fortunately when I was in Senegal I did not have a millet stalk hut. Nevertheless, my cement walls were topped off with a thatched grass roof. Here many of the homes are made of stone and cement but I find the wooden houses much more aesthetically pleasing. I imagine that not too long ago many home looked like this in the US. Nicely decorated living rooms where guests are received with small bedrooms in the back. Outside pit latrines and kitchens separated from the house. I don’t imagine many of these homes would last hundreds of years like the Victorian’s and Brownstones of Boston but then again they don’t have the long cold winters and blowing snow either. They also don't have the big bad wolf... Simple homes for simple lives.

So this week I was thrown into my new job by giving a training earlier in the week on the importance of Malaria prevention and then proper treatment if the disease is contracted. We handed out mosquito nets (note: here they pronounce the qu like you do for ‘question’ rather than like a k). Thursday and Friday I went to 11 homes to see how the nets were hung and ask some general health questions. These people are affiliated with Village Hopecore International (VHI) only as associate groups. This means they have not received a loan from VHI but are in the process of what is called a Merry-Go-Round. They prove their ability to receive a loan and pay it back by working in groups of 12 to loan money and pay back to each other first. It’s really a neat way to encourage self-motivation for money management and creates ambition where no hope existed before. Anyway, I was overwhelmed by acts of appreciation for the mosquito nets through gifts of corn, papaya, mangos, bananas, pineapples, passion fruit and eggs people gave me from their gardens. It’s really quite humbling. I am also inspired by the poly cultures people do here with cash crop farms of tea and coffee that are fertilized by the manure of the cow they keep to provide their families with protein through milk. They also feed their cows, guess what? Grass and every home I’ve visited have what seem to me to be very happy, healthy, interactive cows.

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