Saturday, 8 May 2010

Village Life

We are well under way on our baseline survey and over the last two days have visited 6 villages to support the teams of researcher and another 4 villages to visit health posts and interview health staff. This is our last night in Kamakwie, as tomorrow we start to cover some of the more remote villages and will be staying out for the next 6 days.

I would love to be able to upload some pictures but it is just not possible, I have been unable to in Freetown, let alone here in Kamakwie. Instead I am going to try and describe the images I have in my head.

Today I woke up to the sound of persistent rain and had mixed feelings, as being able to sleep under a cover for the first time in weeks was lovely; but a cold bucket bath and hairwash at 6.30 when it really doesn't feel that warm is not so tempting. I braved it none the less and it was worth it as the steady drizzle and cool weather for the rest of the morning was a welcome relief from the oppresive heat we have had throughout March and April.

We started this morning with a flat tyre so went to the lorry park to get it fixed, it was raining and the steam coming off the plates of food at the small, corrugated tin shack (which is the cookery shop) looked really inviting as the woman served people rice and cassava leaves for breakfast.

After getting our tyre fixed we were on our way, Sierra Leone is incredibly green and since the rains started a couple of weeks ago, everything has started to grow and ever where are vivid, different shades of green, tobacco seedlings, pepper seedlings (under symetrical rows of palm fronds shelters) rice, lemon grass, mango and breadfruit trees with fruit in abundance and the landscape stretching into hills, bush and palm trees. The contrast of all the greenery with the red earth is striking and this morning with the rain clearing and the light which you get as the day moves between rain and sunshine it was especially beautiful.

Along the road to get to the village we were heading for we pass small mud houses some with straw and some with tin roofs with people sheltering from the rain whilst cooking or sitting outside their houses. We pass goats skip away from the car at lightening speed and sheep which always seem to run towards the car or stand in the road, people carrying 3 metre long bundles of firewood on their heads, or walking along with brightly coloured umbrellas.

I'm going to run out of battery on my computer so I'll describe the villages when we are back next week....

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

An update from April

I am back in Kamakwie typing whilst sitting under my mosquito net listening to the sound of the frogs and crickets outside. We arrived on sunday afternoon, yesterday was spent finalising plans for the fieldwork of our fistula project baseline survey.

We have a team of 12 volunteers who will conduct interviews and facilitate focus groups in 30 villages. Three of us will supervise and support the volunteers, alongside conducting interviews with health workers in 27 health posts. The villages and health posts cover all 5 chiefdoms which Health Poverty Action is operational in. We started our 3 days of training with the 12 volunteers today, covering general fistula information, background information on the fistula project and an introduction to research and communication skills. Tomorrow will be practising interviews and focus group facilitation both in our office and in the field to iron out any last problems and pre-test the interview guides.

Click here to read my blog update for Vodafone which has more information on my work during April.

Tomorrow is International Day of the Midwife, which is a day for midwives to think about others in their profession and raise awareness of what midwives do for the world. The theme is 'the world needs midwives now more than ever' which is certainly true in Sierra Leone. Care from a trained midwife here is a luxury many women do not have.

The Royal College of Midwives is raising awareness about obstetric fistula for The International day of the Midwife. I have written about this condition and the work that we are doing at Health Poverty Action to prevent it and treat women who are already affetced and you can read it here.

Dinner tonight was at Mr Bah's roast meat stand in the town, skewers of goat meat cooked over charcoal with fresh baguette and a hard boiled egg is a simple but delicious Kamakwie staple!