Kowaja! Kowaja! Kowaja! Or the mouse shuffling round the tent at night. Or the dahl every...single...day! I’m trying to list all the things I WON’T miss about Jamam. It will make leaving easier. It somehow feels like you’re abandoning a project when you leave it but in reality I’m no longer needed. I came to carry out the mortality surveys and to set up community surveillance.
Now the international media are quoting the results of these surveys and, thanks largely to Channel 4, this crisis is finally getting the international attention it deserves. And Sandra is more than capable of taking full control of the epi component of this mission. In fact she’s turning into a great asset.
And even the outreach teams are sick of saying goodbye to me. Half suspecting they’ll see me again a couple of days later. We trained them for another ambitious project today, screening every child in Jamam camp for malnutrition. We plan to carry this out in only 1 week and really get on top of what we suspect is a large-scale problem in Jamam. We’re even going to include the pregnant women in the screening after anecdotal evidence that some of these women are malnourished. If an adult is malnourished, it indicates the severity of the food security situation as adults usually have natural coping mechanisms so it takes a long time to become malnourished. And if pregnant women are malnourished that can have extreme consequences to the developing foetus. I’m really pleased that we’re including pregnant women and I’m gutted I won’t be here to support that part of the survey.
So I’m back to making my list. But it’s a bit of a struggle. I could talk about the lake outside my tent every time it rains but Richard, one of the logisticians, has piled maram around that part of the compound so any water is almost completely absorbed. It feels a bit weird, like walking on the moon, but better than wading knee deep through swamp water.
And to be honest I love the kids shouting out Kowaja (‘white person’) to us. It’s so cute. I’m not white but there’s no point in arguing the point. Actually the kids have made up a song about how getting the ‘Kowaja’ water means standing in line, getting the ‘Kowaja’ food means standing in line, getting any ‘Kowaja’ stuff means standing in line. Hilarious.
And I love dahl. It’s the one food I could eat every day. This one could do with a bit of spicing up though.
But the mouse is doing my head in. It appears every night and scurries around the tent. I immediately wake up, flash on my torch and spend the next hour looking for it but at the same time frantically ensuring my bed net is tucked in. I’m so paranoid that it will crawl all over me I can’t sleep. It even managed to get past our ingenious taping of any tiny gap in the tent’s zips. I’m desperate for a good night’s sleep, yet Sandra manages to sleep through the whole thing, oblivious to this tiny monster. How does she do it?