Thursday, August 2, 2012


so I think perhaps I owe everyone a bit of a newsy blog - something a little lighter and less, "hey people somehow make yourselves care about death" blog

Life now, is, well, life as normal now.

Its normal to have no electricity after dark
Its normal to shower with buckets
Its normal to pee behind trees at night because the latrine is crawling with cockroaches
Its normal to walk to work, dodging barefoot boys driving long horned cattle
Its normal to sit on the ground more than a chair
Its normal to eat rice with my hands
Its normal to speak in French
Its normal to wait 2 hours for an "urgent" blood transfusion
Its normal to get malaria
Its normal to always have something wrong - so much so you barely notice it
Its normal to pause every night to look in awe at the stars
its normal to boil water over an open fire
Its normal to sleep every night on a little back packing mat that always deflates by morning
Its normal to wear clothing with holes in it
Its normal to go without showering
Its normal to walk around barefoot
its normal to wear the same clothes 3 days in a row
its normal to be soaked in sweat
Its normal that you taxi is always a motorcycle
Its normal to pass the time without entertainment, just talking
its normal to greet everyone with a handshake, to ask about their family, an mean it

this is life now.  I don't find it incredibly hard.  I guess I have toughened up.  falling into latrines, getting toxic hepatitis, break bones falling off fast horses, burning myself on tipsy motorcycles, and an endless procession of mystery ailments and rashes will do that to you I guess. 


I can now at least be in the same vicinity as a cockroach
I am beginning to believe the lie that rats are scared of me too
I am 50 pounds lighter
I can speak French, although not fluently
I am far more intimately acquainted with Bob Dylan and have developed a life-long love affair with Eric Clapton
I am absolutely and unequivocally single and am content to remain so

and so many other small changes - some for the better, some for the worse - some i don't even realize


2 nights ago finished my last night on Peds.  I have been working there since I got here.  it is bittersweet.  The most intense portion of my experience here.  And I wouldn't trade it for anything.  It built me and broke me and I will never be able to do anything else with my life - except be right in the middle of where life is the most intensely fought for and lost. 

I spent one day as the chief de chirgurie

I will spent 20 days working on Maternity with Bikaou - my Tchadian mother and Sage Femme excellent trying to learn how to get those slippery little babies into the light of day.  Oh and the powers have seen fit that I shall be spending 4 Sundays working totally alone in Maternity - so that will be a dangerous adventure considering I possess about the same amount of OB knowledge as a 6 year old from the 7th century. 

I will be spending the 20th of August to Sept 9 doing 3 week long intensive training programs for my Community health workers.  It will be their fourth training.  And then the Pilot Project 21 will be over - and then the CHWs will be trained to do dental screenings and we are hoping also for a self-sustaining water project that can start in January - lack of potable water is the number one stated problem in all the quartiers.  I created their entire training program, trained them myself, and now there are 42 functioning CHWs in the district of Bere (this was one branch of the project, ran in an extraordinary manner by Marci Anderson, MPH) so that is exciting - and Marci is working hard on the next phase of the project which will focus on making potable water accessible and affordable and sustainable.

I have volunteered a little bit at the Malnutrition Center in Bendele and helped them create some nursing intake paperwork.  I also keep doggedly referring although few ever actually go.  But I like spending time with the girls out there - they are doing a splendid job. 

I will be spending my last week until I fly out in the capital, NDJ, trying to interview women in governmental positions as well as those those that work for the branch that deals with women's issues.  Marci is going as well to get statistics for her malaria grant (this woman can and will eradicate malaria here)

I am working on a new hospital paperwork system, discharge papers, and post-surgery protocols and I am crossing my fingers hoping we can push it through and the administration will adopt it.  I spent a lot of time thinking of feasible, sustainable solutions that could increase the quality of patient care and have written a detailed report about my findings.  got to try, right?  don't want all that complaining to be for nothing. 

I am also frantically trying to get all the interviews I need for the book I am attempting to write on Women's rights abuses here in Tchad and specifically Bere.  I started out knowing nothing, still pretty much know nothing, except how not to go about the interview process.  the amount of things i need to do and find out and chase down is truly staggering.  to say I am daunted is an understatement. I am so close to it all I don't know if I have amazing stories or if I don't have anything close to the caliber that i think I have.  I pretty much have no idea what I'm doing.  But i am going to keep trying and follow this thing through to the end.  I have always wanted to write a book - I promised the women - and I have only one life to live - so, i will write. 

So, I am busy, for the most part happy, not in the least excited about leaving, and just trying to do my best to leave having no regrets in any facet of my relationships and experiences here. 

thanks again to everyone for being so supportive, sending me packages, prayers, encouragement, phone calls, letters, positive energy, love, emails, and pieces of writing.  You have all been my lifeline. 


1 comment:

  1. Janna, I am so amazed at all the amazing things you have accomplised! Its like you are a wonder-woman/nurse/health educator/woman's rights advocate. I don't know how you've done it all. Good job! There is NO Question you will leave a legacy they will never forget! I remember being in that period when I was so driven to have no regrets...just don't push too hard. It will all happen. You've done so much already!

    Take care chica! I'm very proud of you!