Sunday, July 23, 2006

This past Monday, 17 July, Adjuah was complaining of some stomach pains. On Tuesday, she was in labor. I was in Accra taking care of some other business, so one of the teachers was handling the situation. The clinic on the camp recommended taking Adjuah to the government hospital in Winneba – about a 20 – 30 minute drive from the camp. So the teacher went with Adjuah to her family’s ‘village’ in the bush to get someone from the family to join and stay with Adjuah. However, Adjuah’s mom said that she would help Adjuah deliver the baby – she’s a traditional midwife and she didn’t want Adjuah to go to the hospital. There was nothing we could do. We all worried; we prayed; we were in phone contact with each other and with someone in Adjuah’s family who had a phone. About 3:50 in the morning on Wednesday, Adjuah gave birth to a little girl. On Wednesday afternoon, some of the students and teachers from the school and I went to visit her. We drove around a bit in the bush – the area is tucked away and there are dirt tracks going everywhere. Finally, we got to the place. She and her baby are doing well; the mother was somewhere in the bush doing farming or something when we arrived, but word was sent to her that we’d come and she returned to talk with us. The woman’s amazing and did a fine job. But at the same time, looking around the small grouping of two huts and a cooking area (I refer to it as a bush village, but it’s really not even that), we all found ourselves wondering about the quality of the water Adjuah would be drinking, about the nutrition of the food she’d be receiving, etc. It’s a hard life they’re living there, but they’re managing, and they’re a family unit taking care of each other – each with a role to play in their survival.

While wondering about Adjuah and her baby’s health, I also found myself wishing I could stay there, go to their fields with them, gather fire wood with them, make charcoal with them (see pics below), go fishing with them, watch Adjuah’s Mom in her traditional caring of people – everything I witnessed taking place while there on Wednesday. In the complexity of the survival taking place in the ‘village’, there’s a simplicity that I would love to stay and experience again. It reminded me of the life I had lived for a couple of years in Peace Corps, very basic, very simple, hard, yet so fulfilling.

Other birthing news: The Puppy Birthing (and Rehab) Center is once again being put to good use. There’s a little wooden shack-like thing attached to my house, with a little doggy-door-opening. Not long after I arrived here 2 ½ years ago, a dog I inherited chose to give birth to 5 puppies inside there. Since then, I’ve lost track of how many puppy births have taken place. Recently, a slight crisis took place – one dog gave birth to 6 inside The Puppy Birthing (and Rehab) Center, and a week later a former 2-time occupant – once as a new-born and again as a rehab patient – gave birth! Sad to say, there’s not room for more than one nursing mother at a time – so ‘You’ found another place – inside a wooden structure in front of her owner’s home – to give birth to her 7 puppies.

‘You’ was from the second batch of puppies to which the dog I inherited gave birth. After leaving The Birthing Center to go to her new owner, she developed an eating disorder – her new owner wasn’t feeding her. After a heavy rainstorm, I heard some puppy crying out back, and went out to find ‘You’ in The Birthing Center, all dripping wet and shivering skin and bones. I was able to dry her off and take her through a week of rehab care (in which I began talking to her as ‘You’), expecting to find her dead every morning. Instead, I witnessed ‘You’ go from just lying there in a heap of puppy skin and bones, to crawling with her two front legs, to standing in a swaying style, to hobbling, to walking away, and now – to giving birth. I wanted to sack the other mother, ‘You’ belonged in The Puppy Birthing (and Rehab) Center, but realized that ‘You’ had found her own solution and all was fine.


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