With April comes the rain. Torrential downpours that bring down trees, fences, and have even torn off roofs. After a long 5 months of dry season, the rain is much needed, but with it comes disease. It has been challenging to keep many of my projects going as everyone goes to work in the fields from sun up to sun down now that rainy season has started to ensure enough food to last through the next dry season. Something I didn’t understand before is that really everyone has a field somewhere where they grow their crops, whether they are a teacher, midwife, shop keeper, or tailor. Making it pretty difficult for me to even buy essentials from the store, let alone motivate households to build latrines when they’re spending all day in the fields. The bad news is that there isn’t a latrine in the fields and with the heavy rains flushing everything into the water supply diahreal diseases like typhoid fever and even cholera are rampant. Soooo, don’t forget to wash your hands buddy.
Conducting house visits with rural health workers in Dodi
With the rain there are clouds of flies and mosquitos everywhere. With the mosquitos comes malaria. April is malaria month and Peace Corps Togo Malaria Action Committee is holding a competition for the work group that does the most malaria prevention and education work. I am doing a campaign of rural villages to visit households with community health workers to see if every family has a mosquito net and it is properly hung up and then educating the family on malaria prevention as well as signs and symptoms of malaria. I better understand some of the misconceptions of malaria now as many people think malaria is caused by long hot days working in the field or eating too many mangoes (the best part of rainy season from what I can tell is mangoes!). I’m also conducting malaria education forums at the schools, market, and public spaces in rural villages.
Yesterday, I went to a small village of about 300 people called Dodi. It’s about a 30 minute motorcycle ride up a mountain road that also substitutes as a river during the rain. After breaking down twice, and crossing the river on a bridge consisting of a few boards, we arrived to the little village where I was welcomed by the community health worker and village chief. They both laughed with delight when I greeted them in Ewe and thanked them for inviting me to talk with the community about malaria prevention. They led me to the small market that sold mostly Tchook, the local beer, where many people were gathered to hear my presentation. They informed me that the “gong gonger” (a man that beats an old car rim with a stick and shouts that there is a yovo coming to talk at the market today) has been working the past three days to get everyone to come, which is honestly a lot more motivation then I can usually get out of anyone in Goudeve. I was given probably the only wooden chair in village to wait while the chief delivers his introduction. An event like this is a social outing for the village so all the women come in their finest pagne, usually around half way through the men lift their shirts up to show their bellies to cool off from the relentless heat and children inch closer to touch my hair and skin to see if it is different than theirs. Once the chief has finished I get up to do my introduction in Ewe, which is always followed by “fine, fine!” from the eldest women. I have posters I have made to illustrate malaria transmission, prevention, signs and symptoms, and treatment. At the end of the presentation and everything has been translated from French to Ewe. I get the usual questions, “Tata, I am sick. Give me medicine?” “My sister, bring me to America?” “Sister Aimee, when will you come eat fufu with me?” I thank everyone for coming and tell them I will be coming for house visits to see their mosquito nets. After eating fufu and drinking Tchook, the local beer. We set off to first visit all the pregnant women in village as they have the highest mortality rates.
Malaria is the premier cause of death in Togo.
Malaria is the number one reason for absences from work and school.
Malaria contributes to significant economic losses.
About 3.2 billion people, about half the worlds population, are at risk of malaria.
89% percent of cases of malaria occur in Sub Saharan Africa and 91% of mortalities from malaria.
This is Milo, he was the puppy born on my bed and was given to me as a gift by the owners of Akuvi (the mom). My name, Aimée, is the French word for love so I named Milo after the Ewe word for love, Melolo.
I found this little guy stealing fruit from the market one day.
Had a quick trip to Lome last weekend to get a visa for Ghana so that I can take the GRE in Accra in June (scary soon!!), went to some meetings, and spent a day with friends at the beach/eating amazing food. It was much needed since I’ve been working nonstop since I was in the US.