Thursday, June 21, 2007

Daniel's Last Week in Tera

Daniel's last week in Tera went by much too quickly. Part of me wants to keep my kids with me forever. The other part realizes that their leaving home is a normal step in their development and I'm just thankful that he is able to make this step on his own (with God's help and lots of support from friends and family).

Daniel loves going hunting with his beebee gun. Mainly he shoots birds, though lizards are a favoirte target. Birds are edible, however, whereas nobody will eat lizards (except monitor lizards). So, the neighborhood boys follow him around when he hunts and then he gives them the meat. They cook it and they all partake in the feast. I had some of the pigeon. It was excellent. The boy on the left is Karimun, the boy who had typhoid fever. He made a remarkable recovery once he got the right medicine!

Daniel loves playing war games. His favorite is Axis and Allies but I won't play that with him. It's too complicated for me. So, I played Risk with him...let's just say he wiped me off the face of the earth in record time.

We all went in our room, turned on the AC and watched movies on the computer. The office/ministry room where the TV is is about 105 degrees by the evening. We can cool our bedroom down to about 82, so that's a huge difference!

Of course, we made one last trip to Picnic Rock. We climbed to the top of the hill where we took this picture. Isn't it nice? Then we went back down and ate our picnic, then John played the guitar and we sang. We ended the evening by tossing the frisbee around.

On his last night in Tera, we had an "invitation" and invited all his friends he's grown up with and people from the church and others we know well. Maimouna and Hawa cooked for me. I made cake and we also made little treat bags of candy to give to everyone. The food is served on huge trays and everybody gathers around and eats with their hands. So you can only have a limited number of people at a tray. This is just one of the groups.

Daniel gave away his clothes that he didn't want to take with him to the US. Some of them were pretty good clothes, but others were in really bad shape, like these boxers whose elastic was shot. Jumassi put them on over his trousers because he knew they wouldn't stay up. The next picture shows what happened when we tried to walk way in his new shorts. That was the last thing we saw as we drove away from Tera. We all had a good laugh!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Congratulations Class of 2007

Tonight was Daniel's graduation from high school....the culmination of 13 years of hard work. Well, maybe kindergarten wasn't so hard! We are extremely proud of him! Tonight's ceremony and reception following were very meaningful. I have so many photos there is no way I can post them all!

Daniel getting ready.

Pomp and Circumstance.

Sahel Academy class of 2007: Daniel D., Daniel K., Ojeoma, Hadiza, Emmanuel, and David!

One of the teachers, Mr. Field, addressed the students. He gave an excellent summary of the character of each student and encouraged them in their future walk. His talk showed how very well he knows each student and how much he cares for them. The director of the school, "Uncle Brian", gave a brief message: 3, 2, 1, Go. Three: faith, hope love. Two: love your God and love your neighbor. One: One God and one way to heaven. Go into the world and preach the gospel. Another teacher sang a great song about friendship.

Each of the graduates got to talk about memories and thank those that influenced them. Daniel's speech was well-delivered and brought tears to my eyes. He even talked in Songhai directly to his friend, Soumeyla, who we invited to come down from Tera for the graduation.

And then, of course, the moment they had all really been waiting for: the granting of their diplomas. He does have it in his hand, you just can't see it!

The graduation ceremony was held in the building of "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs". So after the ceremony, we all drove back to the school for the reception. The teachers had transformed the cafeteria into a beautiful place and we all enjoyed this beautiful cake and some other snacks.

Here we have Daniel with Suzanne.

And with his friend, Soumeyla.
OK, here we are with one last parting shot. Siblings will be siblings!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Grad Banquet

Last night was the graduation banquet for the 2007 graduating class of Sahel Academy.

Amber, aka Coach, had done all the work of setting up the restaurant and organizing the menu. The juniors planned the program. And the dorm mom, Aunt Brenda, and I did the baking for the dessert, which was not included in the restaurant menu. I made a pineapple upside-down cake, an upside-down German chocolate cake, a white layer cake with chocolate frosting, and chocolate chip bars. The worst thing about all that baking was that the oven where we're staying is very small, so I could only bake one thing at a time. It also isn't very well-insulated and the whole apartment was HOT by the time I was finished!

The banquet was held at a Lebanese restaurant. It is in a clear plastic tent which sounds kind of weird, but it's cool because you can see out into the flower garden which is very beautiful. The school colors are yellow and black, with purple as an alternative for decorating. The restaurant had white tablecloths with gold cloths overlaid, so it was perfect for our colors. Miss Carriger and I decorated with graduation confetti, some little stand-up decorations and banners she had, and graduation napkins. I made cards with a photo of each graduate on it. These were passed around during the meal and people wrote notes to the grads in them. It didn't take much to do it, but it looked beautiful.

This is Daniel and his two dormies. Both of the other two young men are from South Korea. DK, the man on the left will be attending university in the USA. This will work well for him because he has done all his high school work in English. Our Daniel will be going to Cedarville University, as you know. David is going to be returning to South Korea for university. He is really scared about that. Even though he speaks Korean fluently, he has never had much experience in reading or writing in. Also, he does not know very many people there. For these graduates, they are not just changing schools when they go off to university, they are changing worlds. There will be a lot of adjustments. Anyway, I kind of consider these guys my three sons.

The juniors had made a really nice power point of pictures of the seniors. Then they had prophecies for the seniors. Daniel's was hilarious...all about how he would return to Tera as a missionary and be an archeologist work on a doctorate in American history on the side. There would be a DeValve Cup (soccer) in Tera named after him, but unlike his dad he would never be mistaken for Zidane. He and his wife would make their children dig zai holes for punishment. They gave him a little spade as a gift. Here we are enjoying the hilarity of the moment.

Then the parents had a chance to speak of and to their graduate. It was great to hear how much each parent loves their child and thinks the world of them. David's parents couldn't come from Cote d'Ivoire, so they sent a letter in Korean to be read to him. DK's parents read it and then gave an English translation. David was so surprised he was crying. It was very touching.
Also as part of the program, John sang Find Your Wings, a beautiful song about giving our kids roots, but helping them fly.

Meanwhile Suzanne and her partners in crime, Joe and Russ, were putting the confetti in their mouths and spitting it at each other. Of course, I had nothing to do with such immature behavior. By the way, the juniors and seniors sat together and John, Suzanne, and I sat together.

It was a great evening. And the pineapple upside-down cake and Aunt Brenda's carrot cake were the most popular if you have to bake for an event, start with one of those!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Karimun Has Typhoid Fever!

The lady that helps me in my house, Maimouna, has eleven children, ten of them still living. She had five children with her first husband who died from TB when she was pregnant with the fifth child. Now she has had six children with her second husband.

Karimun is child # 4 in the 2nd batch of kids and he is about 12 years old. We have known him all his life. I wish I had a picture of him on this computer to post, but I don't....and I forgot to copy one off the other computer.

About 3 weeks ago he came down with a headache and fever that came every evening and generally didn't feel well. We gave him a chloroquine treatment since those are all signs of malaria. It didn't do any good, so they took him to the dispensary. She told him he'd already done a malaria treatment, but they gave him more malaria medicine, but ran no tests. That is not unusual here, sad to say. Malaria is the #1 disease in Niger and probably 9 times out of 10 treating for malria is the right thing to do. Even if it turns out that you don't have malaria, the treatment is good to do because you tend to get malaria when your body is weak, so it will serve as a preventative.

We were gone to Niamey for a week and he was still sick, but the family did not take him to the dispensary. They were apparently waiting for us to come home. I don't know, waiting for our advice, a ride. Probably all three. So the day after we get back, Sunday, our house lady started saying how sick he was and hinting that we should take him to the dispensary. We decided that since it hadn't been an emergency while we were gone we weren't going to get in a panic over it. So, the next day she took him to the dispensary herself (which is what we wanted her to do). They gave him more malaria medicine, this time an up-dated more effective kind. I believe that was Monday morning.

By now his fever wass very high and he pretty much had it all day, not just at night. He had also started vomiting. Every day he slept on our porch while his mother worked. Wednesday he dragged himself to kids' club because he knew I was going to be giving prizes to kids who had perfect attendance. He was sitting there with the other kids and I thought, "Wow! He looks terrible!" So that night at prayer meeting I asked for prayer for him. One of the ladies who attends said, "Maybe he has typhoid". So after prayer meeting I looked up typhoid in my trusty Where There Is No Doctor and sure enough, the symptoms were all there....and pretty much the same symptoms as malaria. Except that typhoid doesn't respond to the malaria treatment.

So, the next day we told Maimouna that we thought he had a terrible disease. There doesn't seem to be a word for it in Songhai. I suspect it's so common that they just use the general term for all illness for it. John said that he would go with them to take him to the dispensary and ask for tests for malaria.

When he got there he got a male nurse who, apparently, hates people. There is a rumor that he's on drugs. Whatever, there is no excuse for the way he treats people. It's like because he has more knowledge than the average illiterate, poverty-stricken patient he sees, he can throw his weight around and be mean to them just to prove that he's better. John told him that the child was on his third treatment for malaria and was not getting better and we'd like to have some blood work ordered. He got mad and started yelling about how we shouldn't even bring him in until the treatment is completely finished. He has no concern about how awful the kid looks or about how the treatment should be starting to work 4 days into a 5 day treatment! John just said, "Fine, I'll take him directly to the hospital." At that the nurse sat down with his prescription pad and started writing out tests to have done at the lab.

John then took Karimun to the lab to get the work done. He asked what tests had been ordered and the lab tech said malaria and parasites. So John asked if he could also do typhoid. The lab tech agreed. An hour later John got the results for the malaria and typhoid.....malaria negative, typhoid positive. (The next day we got the parasite results...also negative.)

The next step was to take the results back to the nurse and ask for a prescription. When John gave the lab results to the nurse, he was livid. He started yelling about how he wouldn't give a prescription because he had't ordered a test for typhoid. In essence, he refused to treat this horribly sick child. So, John just took the lab results back and left the dispensary. He went to the pharmacist, who we know personally, and asked for the medicine to treat typhoid. He didn't want to do it because he can get in trouble for giving out medicines without a prescription, but because it was John and when he heard the full story, he did.

The next day, Friday, John went to talk to one of the head doctors and told her the whole story. She said Karimun should not have been treated that way and thanked John for telling her. She also wrote out a proper prescription. By the way, she seems very competent and does her job the best she can within the limitations she has.
When we left Saturday morning to come to Niamey, Karimun still looked really awful. Like a living skeleton. I wanted to post a picture of him, but didn't feel like I could go over there and say, "Hey, Karimun, I want to get a picture of you to show my friends how awful you look."

We understand that in the poorest country of the world, the medical system is going to have to operate with a lot of restraints on it. We can understand giving a malaria treatment once, maybe twice, without running tests. What makes me so mad that I start shaking is that there is no justice for the poor. It is not right that they are oppressed under the medical system. They have no way to bring this man to justice. If they didn't have an "anasara" to fight for them, their child would still not be receiving the proper medicine and would very possibly die. And what about all those people who don't have an educated, "powerful" white person to fight for them? How many of them die needlessly? And part of it is to do with this religion where everything is God's will so you don't fight anything. And then there is just the general injustice in the world....America where people get heart and kidney transplants (which is fine) and Niger where people can't even get treated properly for typhoid.

The whole thing has been very stressful. Please pray for Karimun and pray that none of the rest of the people in his family get it. We are probably ok because we've had the vaccine (pills) against it. Also, it is passed feces to mouth and he hasn't been handling our food. His mom does, though.....But, we rinse our dishes in scalding water and last week she only fixed food that had been well cooked.
By the way, he probably got it from drinking water from the resevoir. That is the grossest water you could ever hope to see....people, cows, sheep, goats, and donkeys urinate and defecate in it, people do their laundry in it, and all sorts of trash washes into it. We've been telling all the kids, "Look what happens when you drink that water!" I think some of them have been scared off of drinking it, but others will probably continue. How many cases of typhoid will we see before it's all over?