Today was a good day. I mean, most every day is a good day, so I guess maybe today was exceptional.
Last night I accidentally went to sleep super early, so I woke up this morning feeling really good and happy. As I am very much not a morning person, "really good and happy" is not usually an accurate description of how I feel at 6 am. Since I was feeling so good and happy, I braided my hair in two braids. Sometimes I feel like this makes me look like a little pioneer girl, but today it was ok. To continue the trend of wonderfulness, my Chadian mother gave me potatoes for breakfast. I love potatoes.
I went to worship at the hospital, and I managed to sit on a row that was equipped with a French hymnal. This is important, because if I can read along, I feel like I can do a pretty good job of pretending that I can sing in French. If I don't have a hymnal...it doesn't go so well. This morning I also understood the numbers they announced for 2 of the songs. That's always cool too. When I don't understand the number, it's kind of hard (although not impossible) to find the right song before it ends. On Wednesdays, there is a Bible study-type meeting after worship. Today the topic was jewelry, or something like that (I'm actually not really sure exactly).
Before the meeting began, I got a call about a mother with a malnourished baby who had traveled a really long way to come enter her baby in our malnutrition program. The program is typically run on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but since she had come from so far, not knowing what the times were for the program, we were going to check out her baby today. No problem, I can do that. First challenge: find the woman. I feel like in the US we might say "it's the woman with the baby," or something like that. But it seems like most of the women here have babies. Second challenge: talk to the woman. She speaks Nangjere. I speak English. Sometimes I pretend that I speak French. She speaks less French than I do. (And basically, if you speak less French than I do, you don't speak French. Like, at all.) I speak maybe 2 dozen words of Nangjere. None of which have anything to do with babies, malnutrition, health, etc.
I found the woman quite easily with the help of one of the hospital staff. At first the talking part went pretty well too. I weighed and measured her baby, asked her how old the baby was (ok, that part didn't go so well; I still don't know how old the baby is), and more or less explained to her how to mix the milk for the baby. Right about this time, she started asking me questions in Nangjere. Shoot, why don't I speak Nangjere?! It would be so useful. Anyway, there was another woman outside, and she apparently noticed that we were speaking different languages. Turns out she spoke French and Nangjere, so she translated. Pretty much a life saver....
After sending the woman on her way, I got a text message that someone needed to assist in surgery today. My options were to either go myself, or text my 2 fellow volunteer nurses and see if they wanted to go. I figured it was easier to just go myself, since I was between tasks anyway. So I spent about the next 8 hours in the bloc. It was the day of hernias. Not the most exciting, but better the day of hernias than the day of pus. (That was on Sunday. My hands smelled like pus all day. Sorry, you probably didn't want to know that.) I was planning to go out to a village for a mobile clinic this afternoon with some other people, but I couldn't find a replacement for myself in the OR, so I sent them on their way, and went back to hernia land.
This evening, I got a box of America (thanks mom <3), are some triscuits, talked with various and sundry people, was offered cold grape juice by one of my fellow volunteers (I've forgiven him for dumping cold water on me yesterday), and then came home to my sweet, smiling little sisters. They brought me my supper, which happened to be one of my favorite meals here. I put on my soft, comfy pants--they're better than a skirt, because when my legs sweat when I'm wearing a skirt, they're all sticky. But if I'm wearing pants, it doesn't matter. (Sorry, you probably didn't want to know that either.) Then we sat on woven mats in the courtyard doing various things. I made some plans for tomorrow. Then I read a little bit. My mother gave me some sweet milk. We talked about the day, and then we went to bed.
But as I lay on my mat and listen to the crickets and think about today, I'm angry. Because there was a mother with a malnourished baby who had to travel for two days to get here for the nutrition program. Because there was a little baby who has malaria and was limp and had intercostal retractions and nasal flaring. Because there was a terrified little boy with an abscess on his liver, who was so scared when the doctor lanced it. And all I can do about it is try to explain to the mother how to give her baby the supplemental milk, hold the baby for a few minutes and say a prayer, and hold the little boys hand (because I only speak 5 words of his language).
I had a good day today. But a whole lot of other people didn't. And that's not fair. I like it when things are fair. Someone please tell me how to solve the world's problems....at least the ones that involve children.