Thurs, 1 Nov 2007

I have been spending a lot of time in camp and really needed to get out today. Lizzie taught me the basics of how to use my GPS device, so I traced my route to N’s house, marked the manyattas (homes) of several of her neighbors, and then followed my route back to camp.

Using longitude and latitude I can also transfer the points I visit to a paper map so that I can see where everything is located visually on a map of all of Koija. So I feel good – it’s a way not to get lost and way to keep track of where people and physical objects like water holes are located, which might be useful for my research.

The driving is also going great. I feel a lot more confident and am up to driving a relatively normal speed, approximately 35 mph on a good road.

I also spent time with N’s family today. The 6-year-old who had polio seemed happy and chatty. N’s “second mother”, which is to say her father’s 2nd wife, showed me a cow that was born last night. The second mother laughed a lot when I asked if the cow was a boy (layioni) or a girl (ntito); apparently these terms mean girl-child and boy-child, and there are different words for male (laché) and female (nkaché) animals.

We spent a good while inside the house of N’s mother as well. I should stop to explain: a manyatta is a large fenced homestead that has multiple animal corrals and multiple houses inside of it. There is usually a house for each wife, a house for the father, a house for any mostly-grown children, and also for any other relatives living there.

N’s mother is the first wife, has borne 6 children, and has a very nice house. Anyway, it is always interesting to be inside people’s houses, especially those of nice people who make me feel at ease. N’s mother is one of these people. She served us tea, gave baby J. a bath in a plastic tub, and laughed along with 2 friends of N’s who came to visit.

Tuesday night I was alone in camp… For the first time that night I heard lots of voices all around our camp, just outside our (very thin) fence. They sounded relaxed, but what do I know? I asked the guard what people were out and about, and he said “watoto” (children). So I figured that was ok. The next morning when our English-speaking cook came to camp, he explained that they were out hunting dik diks (a tiny antelope, about the size of a cat). As Lizzie said when she returned to camp, it’s not like there’s much else to do around here when you’re a 12-year-old.

Lizzie and I were also talking about S’s son who died several years ago. Lizzie helped take him to the hospital right before he died. He was misdiagnosed with malaria[…] and given some powerful anti-malaria medicine that poisoned him because he really had Hepatitis B, which meant his liver was unable to process the anti-malaria drug. Lizzie told me Hepatitis B is contracted through blood or sex, but the boy was 9 when he died. This begs the question, had he been circumcised very early (unlikely) with a dirty implement? Had he been raped?

N. has told me in a different context that there is a problem with rapes of young women here. It is hard/impossible to know the scale of the problem at this point, and whether it is better or worse than other places.

I have also heard of at least 2 different instances of children in groups wounding themselves. In the first case, they made cuts on their own thighs. In the second case, very young kids were rubbing gravel into the backs of their hands until they bleed, creating large scabs. I wonder if this is an instance of kids being bored that can happen anywhere, or a sign of more serious problems.

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