23 September 2010

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

You never do know exactly what you are going to get. One minute the sun is shining, the next a huge rainstorm has moved in and you are all soaked. But do not worry the sun will come back out to dry your clothes soon, or eventually as the case may be in the rainy season.

On that note, lots of things have been happening lately…

A few days ago I saw my first live birth ever. It all happened so quickly. One minute Rose, my counterpart, was telling me that we should go to the market and then the next she said that there was a birth going to happen first. I was so excited because I have told her before that I wanted to watch a birth. Right then I realized that I was scared, why? Because I had never seen a birth before and I was not sure what it was going to be like, more I was not sure what my reaction would be. What if I gasped at an inappropriate time, or cried?

With all of this going through my head, I took a deep breath and told myself now or never; now it was. I walked into the room very unsure of my role, but knowing that the best thing to do would stay out of the way and only do as I was told. The contractions were coming so fast. Then all of a sudden I could see a head with curly black hair starting to appear. Magically somehow a person was coming out of this lady laying there in pain (making little no noise may I add, and do not kid yourself into thinking there were any pain killers used). Magical, that is the only way I have been able to express what I saw. A new life was on this earth and I saw it happen.

While I was still floating on this incredible high from seeing a live birth, I was talking to Rose the next day. She was discussing the number of HIV positive people this month. Ever since I have come to help at the health center the numbers have slowly been going up. When I first got here almost every month it was 0 positive with maybe 1 every once in a while. Slowly now the number goes up. And we have about three each month or more. This month we have already had at least 3 positive and each of them is a young unmarried female, two of them pregnant and one a Bororo. The reason that it is women testing positive is because for every women who comes for a prenatal consultation we require that they get an HIV test, all the other ones done are people coming and soliciting the tests.

Well this information really put a damper on the magic of birth. If one of the Bororos is infected then a good number of them will be soon. It is a small community and each man has at least 4 wives… And as for the other women they are pregnant and would have to move to Bafoussam to get the ARVs and their boyfriends are moto drivers, aka they get around. It feels like the virus is taking over the village. Maybe that is just because before this it was hidden enough that I was able to convince myself that HIV is not a huge issue in BambouĂ©.

After this downer of a realization I went up into the mountains to go for a hike and to say hi to my friends, the Bororos. Luckily I got up there right before the rain came down. I then settled down into their one room house to talk and zone out the rain. Soon it was time to eat and we had one of the best meals I have yet had in Cameroon: couscous and jama jama. Let me explain the meal a little for those of you not familiar with Cameroonian cuisine. Couscous is flour from corn mixed with water and then steamed. Then the jama jama part is some of the best greens (like spinach leaves) in this country cooked with oil and salt. Soo good. So we sat there and ate with our hands watching the hail, yes hail, come down. Every once in a while some hail would bounce in. The view was crazy and somehow the scene was so beautiful, until I had to walk home in it.

Then just yesterday I went to a community meeting about Cholera. As you probably already know there is a large outbreak in the north of Cameroon. Right now the big cities of Yaounde and Douala are already seeing cases of cholera too. So everyone else is preparing to take precautions and figuring out the steps for when/if cholera comes here too. So it all comes round circle. My days are as up and down as ever with the ups being way up there in the sky I can almost touch the clouds, and the downs as depressing as can be.

But through all this I know my mother is coming to visit soon and I get a break on a cruise/America for my birthday. So no matter what happens I have that to look forward to.