My mental state-
"Emotional roller-coaster" does not even begin to describe it... On a typical day I awake in a neutral state of mind to the sounds of roosters, small children screaming, and women pounding millet. I prepare my oatmeal and then take a trip to the latrine, at which point my day often sours. Either cockroaches climb out of it over my foot or I'm attacked by the ever-present G.I. issues in Burkina Faso, and neither of these do much to improve my mood. Following that, I make my way to the CSPS (village health clinic), passing neighbors on the way, all of whom are incredibly friendly and take a moment to chat with me. This improves my mood rapidly. Once at the CSPS I continue to feel happy and somewhat productive, and enjoy the company of my coworkers there. Unfortunately, there are times when my work is anything but uplifting, and the mood plummets yet again. After a few hours there, I return to my house and hibernate for a while, staring at the termites eating my furniture and missing the emotional comforts of America, family, and friends. I also read a lot, oftem bursting into tears at the corny parts in cheesy books. A pretty pathetic site. Then I'll motivate myself to venture outside, where the kids instantly cheer me up and I spend a good hour or two playing happily with them. Some days I get visitors, people in the community that I'll either be working with later or who are just friendly and like to stop by and chat for a while. My mood continues to rise from this, and I'm perfectly content and happy until something little happens like realizing I have no food for dinner or the cow in my yard wont stop bellowing for two seconds and allow me to get a second of peace. Then I wallow in misery some more and stare at my calendar listlessly, thinking I would cut off my little toe to have someone to talk to in English (seriously, i mean, little toes aren't that important after all).
My saving grace-
There are just enough moments each day, each week when I realize its worth it to be here. Sometimes its something upsetting, like weighing babies during village vaccinations and realizing at least 2/3 of them are malnourished. Depressing and daunting, but it gives me a concrete issue to focus on, and reaffirms that there is so much work here to be done, that I can hopefully contribute to in some way. Other times, these moments are incredibly enjoyable, like getting together with my theater troupe in village and just hanging out with a drum, dancing and singing until everyone shows up for rehearsal. Then there are many calm tranquil moments like riding my bike in the early morning (on the flat parts, i hate my life during the hills) and thinking that there is no place that would make me more content than right there on the road in Burkina. So, despite the ups and downs, I'm still here and excited for whatever comes next.
And the rabid feminist in me emerges-
I never really thought of myself as a feminist before coming here. If pressed to definitively say that I was or was not, I would have replied yes, but it wasn't a constant thought in my mind. Funny how things chance when you arrive in a country where women are incredibly marginalized. For example, a Burkinabe colleague will bring up the upcoming U.S. presidential elections, and baldly state "Clinton's woman cannot win because women cannot be president; they are not strong enough to lead men." Another day, with another man, the issue of excision (femal genital mutilation, look it up) arises, and it is explained to me that though it is illegal, without it, women will not be faithful and obedient to their husbands, so it continues. Needless to say, these conversations are a little hard for me to stomach, and its a thin line between expressing my opinions and offending those of another culture.
Thats all for now, thanks as always to all of you who have sent cards, letters, and packages! It's so nice to know people are thinking of me!