A true horror story...

Trip Start Dec 01, 2007
Trip End Mar 27, 2010

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Flag of Guinea  ,
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Disclaimer: for all you faint of heart, weak stomach or prone to queasiness you may want to stop reading here.  This is a true horror story and it ranks an 8 on the disgust-o-meter. You have been warned.  This is the story of how was inducted into the water method.  As some of you may know many under developed countries have different bathroom methods than we do in the West.  The squat in pit latrines and clean themselves with their left hand, or the poop hand, and water.  Many volunteers adopt this method as it saves money on toilet paper which is a luxury and quite hard to come by.  I am not one of these volunteers.
As a precursor to my story, I have been relatively sick for a month now.  So I was on my way to Kankan from Kissidougou in a bush taxi. It was a 9 passenger cab but of course we had managed to fit 13 people into it. I was in the very back middle seat with 2 people on either side of me.  The trip was going quite well and except for the occasional breakdown we were making good time. Well, 60 km my stomach started to hurt and I had to pee but I could hold it. 45 km away it's hurting pretty bad; I start biting my fingers to take my mind off the pain and urgent need to stop the car and squat on the side of the road.  30 km I'm about to scream but we're so close I can't make all these people stop. Why isn't the stupid car breaking down?!? 20 km away, doesn't someone need to get out at one of these small villages? They always have before! 10 km away I can't hold it anymore...and I didn't. But let's be a little bit more specific, I didn't pee.  That's right.  I tapped the lady in front of me, "Umm could you ask the driver to pull over I need to find a toilet." She didn't understand so I start yelling to the front of the car. "Monsieur, we need to stop NOW! I need a bathroom." See, even though I'd gone I still really needed to go more. So he stops right after a village. Too far for me to find a real pit latrine but not far enough that the entire village can't see me if I squat on the side of the road. But there was nothing I could do. So five feet away from my cab in plain view of the passengers, road, village, houses, etc. I squat.  And as I had left the car so quickly, without my emergency supply of toilet paper, I was forced to go native and use the water method.  I got back in the car, minus one of my favorite pair of underwear, but 5 km later I was back outside. The car stopped and I jumped out telling them I'd just get off there. Then I run into nearest compound. There are only children there. I do the squatting motion and they understand and show me to the latrine. When I come out 20 minutes later, stomach still rebelling, the mother of the children looks at me "Toubabou?" I tell her I'm sick and she gets me a chair and sits me down, wiping the sweat off my forehead. The cab was still waiting for me.  So I got back in and they dropped me off where the regional coordinator was waiting to take me to the Kankan house. So I'm still sick apparently. Which is why I'm in Conakry.
But other than that I've been doing really good. The last week at site I gave two sensitizations on breastfeeding and how to make Oral Rehydration Salt before handing out mosquito nets and helping with vaccinations.  I also finished planting the Moringa garden beside the Health Center. Moringa is a miracle tree. If you want to learn more about it you should visit www.treesforlife.org . So I'm really excited about what's happening at site. Working is great and really takes my mind off of being sick.  Hopefully more to come on that later.
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