Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday. The uplands were ringing with the sounds of women calling “Momo!” (thanks!) to each other and teasing laughter from hill to dale as we headed off to the garden to weed and deliver rice and poyo to the friends working there. I hear from Canada they expected snow today. Here we sweltered, drifted past sorghum, millet, sesame, and rice stands and after our labour, rested in the shade of a palm while the sweet smell of rich loam wafted our way from the withering weeds and newly planted mango seedling (I’ll be harvesting the mangoes in ten years, I’m told). Digging hands into the rich warm soil, flicking ants from sticky legs, picking at the massive quartz boulders dotting the hillsides while keeping a wary eye out for snakes, we mused over the ownership of any gold we might find at the riverside before we sauntered home after just a tiny bit of poyo. Everyone working in the garden today was a volunteer teacher. All are waiting for word (still!) about the possible granting of teacher vouchers to those volunteer teachers who have replaced missing teachers at schools. IMF conditionalities mean no new teaching positions may be created but, with so many leaving for the mines, it good to know that at least some can be replaced. In the health field, meanwhile, there are also a number of interesting developments. Young children, pregnant and lactating mothers now have the right to free health care and medicines, which has apparently reduced deaths in these target groups (perhaps explaining why this is my first visit without witnessing tragedy in the community). Unfortunately, it seems to come with a corresponding lack of available medicines for those not in the target groups, an issue yet to be resolved. I’ll be making my way back to the cold north soon (I’m told Canada’s cold is nothing compared to the bone-chilling wind of the Harmattan!) and hope that the good news encountered on this trip will hold through challenging times on the horizon. Time for a wee poyo nap, now! Oh, I am posting new photos each day in October 2011 Photos.