Friday, April 27, 2012

World Malaria Day

 World Malaria Day - April 25! (When they named it, did they consider it had the same initials as weapons of mass destruction? Oh, well.) No, I'm not blogging on the 25th - I spent the last two nights falling asleep while putting JB to sleep.
There were several days of events, leading up to the celebrations on the 25th. There was a forum on the 24th in which I and my USAID colleague Rama took part.
The mayor of the Dakar suburb that hosted gave an impressive talk reviewing the discovery of the parasite that causes malaria, the biology, the epidemiology, history of control efforts ... but by far the most impressive thing in the room was the size of the mosquitoes set on the table - you would have more problems than malaria if one of those got you!

World Malaria Day festivities were held in Pikine, a suburb of Dakar, on Wednesday morning... traditional musicians, children singing songs, scenes about malaria control acted out, Senegalese celebrities, the Minister of Health.

The NMCP had ordered fabric in honor of the day for everyone involved to have dresses made from - unfortunately, it arrived the day before. My strategy: find a video on YouTube about how to wrap a sari. I asked Ed if it looked like I was going to a toga party. His response: Wouldn't it be white if you were going to a toga party? :) Oh well, it was OK - but amazing all the women who had managed to get dresses made - some of them quite fancy! None of the tailors in Pikine must have slept the night before!
I was intrigued by some of the traditional musicians - I had never seen the groups of women who play these large painted gourds, providing base, and a very pretty rhythmic dance. Plus these beautiful dresses - I thought they made a striking picture!

A few troupes of actors performed sketches in Wolof about malaria control - the fellow in the picture below, who has just stripped is shirt off, starts off very hostile towards modern malaria prevention (the health worker trying to give his wife a bednet), and ends up contracting malaria and being carried off by the others. I could at least understand that much!

 The new Minister of Health overseeing the festivities.
Senegalese pop singer Pape Diouf appeared, talked about malaria, sang a number, and danced. leading a troupe of photographers and delighting the children and young women.

Senegalese traditional wrestling is the national sport, and professional wrestler Eumeu Sene also made an appearance, starting the women screaming even before he actually entered the grounds. It was as if Usher and Evander Holyfield had shown up to the same event. Unfortunately, blogger won't let me upload the movie of Eumeu Sene showing off for the crowd. :(

Anyway - it's all over - back to work!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A little bit of this, a little bit of that..

JB is "helping" me with this blog entry. He actually managed to lock the mouse key pad (something neither Ed nor I knew was possible), requiring a computer shutdown to escape from. We are so in for it! He is accidentally discovering all sorts of function keys I didn't know existed!
 We're very much enjoying having our sea shipment mostly unpacked - JB goes crazy in his jumperoo! Oh, and that's his post-bath fauxhawk - takes a little more effort these days! 
Most of the houses on our street have both day and night guards who all work for the same company.The guards on our street adore JB - and the feeling is mutual. One evening I was walking down our road with JB in the carrier, and every time I approached a guard, JB would start bouncing and giggling.
 Our guard (on weekends) is Modou, in the middle. He has a little boy JB's age and is just terrific with him. JB will play and laugh with him longer than with most people!

JB getting the night guard look - quite the hat, eh?
    Another favorite item from our shipment is our Xbox with Kinect (believe it or not, that was MY request for Christmas - and I convinced Ed that he needed a flat screen TV for Christmas). Here are JB and Daddy playing Xbox.
There are a lot of corner fruit and vegetable sellers, and you can get an amazing variety, for fairly reasonable prices. Here is my $20 worth of spring onions, cilantro. mint, avocados, carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, mangoes, limes, lemons, cucumbers, and pears, out to dry after having been soaked in water with a capful of bleach. Gorgeous!
I make JB's baby food from steamed, pureed fruit and veggies.  I think this is carrot and green bean. Looks like he's a fan!
This carrot is almost as big as he is!
For Lao New Year, my friend Melinda wanted to put on a New Year Party, and I wanted to have a curry paste making party and Mekong food party - so we joined forces, cooked from 10:30 till 5 while the husbands watched the boys, and ended up with quite the feast to share with friends!

Walk for World Malaria Day

April 25th is World Malaria Day! (Well, actually World fight against Malaria Day) The Senegal National Malaria Control Program has a week of activities planned, and this morning, with the company of my friend Kari, I got to experience a very Senegalese way of publicizing causes - the "randonee pedestre".
Americans do walks or runs to raise money - that's a little tougher here. They gather a bunch of sponsors, print T-shirts, and put out the word about when and where to gather, and everyone who shows up to walk gets a free t-shirt. Then hundreds of people walk the route in their matching shirts. 

Showing up was pretty much a job requirement, but I wasn't exactly looking forward to getting up early on a Sunday morning to walk in a crowd through the streets of Dakar -- and I didn't have anyone else to watch JB. Thank goodness for Kari - who volunteered to walk the 10k loop with me - with her own little boy just JB's age! I think if either of us was doing it alone, it would have felt overwhelming and not much fun, but we had a good time walking together.

It was a nice morning, sunny and breezy, and people got a kick out of the toubabs and their baby boys (some asked if they were twins - huh?). Though there were a lot of children walkers, they were by far the youngest! 
Kari carried Alec pretty much the whole way - either in the Moby or in the Ergo.
 JB alternated between the Ergo and the stroller.  After switching the boys back and forth multiple times, we finally lost the rest of the group - all 3000 or so! We got pretty close to the starting point, but at that point there was a lot of traffic, and no protection from walking in a bunch any more, so we decided there was no shame in jumping in a taxi and heading back to catch the end of church! (JB was asleep for the taxi ride.) 
They weren't handing out onesies for baby participants - so JB is wearing a onesie with the logo of the National Malaria Control Program (that's a dead mosquito in red) in Sharpie. Looks like he had fun!

And Kari, who is a fantastic blogger, also did a post - for her story, check out this link:

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Road trip through JB's eyes

During March, Mom's cousin and her husband came to visit Senegal, so we had a great time showing them around Senegal. And I had four adoring adults all to myself!
Mom keeps thinking she'll write a blog post about our trip, but I doubt she'll ever get around to it, so I'm doing one for her.

Here we are on the island of Goree.

Eating lunch in St. Louis.  I know exactly what to do with a Coke can ... one of the days I'm going to get a hold of one before Mom is done with it.

We went to the Djoudj National Park - a major bird sanctuary in Senegal. Mom was in birdie heaven, and will post a blog with all her bird pictures.... someday.Taking a boat ride through the park.

The next day we went to a place where we rode camels and stayed in tents.  
I looked very cool in my baby sun glasses. 

Mom says I slept through my first camel ride.

 Hanging out with Dad
I really liked the inside of the tent - the way the patterns moved in the wind was fascinating!
 Mamadou was our driver - he kept us safe on the road and was lots of fun to play with! We drove down to southern Senegal on the coast just north of Gambia, where we went on a little "safari" - most of which I slept through.
But I woke up in time to see the zebras.
 And I thought it was really funny when the friendly antelope tried to kiss me!
I slept through most of our boat ride through the mangroves.
 I made friends everywhere - no one can withstand my grin!
 Out to eat on the beach with Mom and Dad at sunset back in Dakar
Now this is my kind of fun involving birds and water!! 

I confess .... I covet my neighbor's bougainvillea

Yes, it's true ... I covet my neighbor's bougainvillea - not necessarily the next-door neighbor, but neighbor in a more general sense.
You can't walk in our neighborhood without  noticing them... bougainvilleas spilling over gates and through fences, falling all over themselves, like some sort of floral lava flow.

There is no better way to dress up a chicken wire fence than to let bougainvillea take it over.

Even outside the bleakest looking walls, wild and unkempt, they spill across the sidewalk in a blaze of colors.

They even adorn the piles of trash. 

 And not just the standard purple ... blazing fuschia, almost red, salmon, burnt orange, deep gold, sunny yellow, light pink, white....

 This is our little garden, where our little bougainvilleas bravely reach up. When you get them home from the nursery and plant them, they promptly wilt, the flowers fall off, and they look dead for several weeks ... but then they start coming back. It doesn't look like much yet, but I hope in a year's time to have the same gorgeous billows of bougainvillea piling over our walls.

But in the meantime, I covet my neighbor's bougainvillea.