Brave Woman

Adventures of a future nurse-midwife


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Posted by Lucille on June 5, 2011 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (0)

I've been bouncing through a lot of ideas, but here's the current plan: Berkeley for one year, move to a Portland school and major in environment, then do a 3 year nurse midwife program.

The Bargaining Begins

Posted by Lucille on June 5, 2011 at 11:40 PM Comments comments (0)

We've gone through a lot of the things we brought, so an unofficial bartering system has developed. Trail mix and anything with whole grain is the most valuable, followed by toilet paper, all the way down to sunscreen and bug spray.

Half Way There

Posted by Lucille on June 4, 2011 at 12:55 PM Comments comments (0)

25 days down and 25 to go!

Things You Don't Notice Until They're Gone

Posted by Lucille on June 4, 2011 at 12:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Only pooping every five days is really weird. I wonder if this happens to the locals, too, or if it's just us. And I think it's funny that when you're traveling, this counts as good lunch conversation.

Forgot One

Posted by Lucille on June 4, 2011 at 12:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Something to add to the list of things I miss: personal hygiene. Even if it was possible for me to be completely clean, smelling weird is pretty much a given at this point. The humidity is so high that nothing ever dries completely, and I'm pretty sure my clothes are growing mold.

They're On To Me

Posted by Lucille on June 4, 2011 at 12:55 PM Comments comments (0)

"And what are you cooking today?"


"You are excited?"

"I'm very excited. I want to remember how to make it so I can make it for my parents."

"You will have to observe very well."

I lifted my notebook. "Don't worry, I'll write it all down."

Everyone in the room burst out laughing. "Jainaba, Jainaba, she is always writing!" they laughed while some of the younger kids ran around doing impressions of me scribbling in the air.


Posted by Lucille on June 4, 2011 at 12:55 PM Comments comments (0)

I cooked again and the family invited me to eat with them before we brought the food to the lodge. We gathered around a bowl of fish and rice and our guide brought out spoons. "I know in your country, everyone has his own plate, yes?" he said as we started eating, "Here we all eat from the same bowl. It is good to make sure that the whole family comes together a few times a day. It is a good time to teach the children manners, like not to look someone in the eyes when you are eating..."

At this point I realized I was eating and looking him in the eyes at the same time, and hastily looked back at the food while everyone started laughing.

Catch 22

Posted by Lucille on June 4, 2011 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (0)

A good friend of ours from the hospital was deployed to a hospital two hours away. He was given a day's notice, and he's to stay there for two years and only come back on weekends. He is a wonderful, cheerful man and very much a community person. He's been doing a lot to help us in addition to all his other work. Everyone loves him. When they found out he was being deployed, a bunch of the local people tried to intervene, until they found out it was a promotion. His wife has clearly been missing him a lot. Every time we saw her this week we reminded her how many days were left before he came home.

He came back yesterday and joined us for dinner, and it was so good to see him. I missed him more than I realized. This puts me in a bit of a predicament, because it means that, as homesick as I've been, as soon as I get home to my family I'm going to start missing people here. Of course, a major goal of this trip was building relationships and connections with people from a different culture, so missing people is a sign that this trip is turning into the kind of experience I wanted it to be.


Posted by Lucille on June 4, 2011 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I'm living with two nutrition majors and a midwifery student, so I figured that a conversation about my diet was coming at some point. I tried to invite it by being open about how limited my diet has been, and how excited I am to change that. I signed up to take Human Diet next year and to volunteer at the student food co-op. No one seemed to care much and the conversation usually ended with a blunt "Huh."

Last night we had spaghetti, potatoes, and spam. I ate the spaghetti and potatoes.

"You mean you haven't been eating the spam?" someone said, "What do you do for protein?"

"Well, apparently I eat eggs now."

"But what did you do before?"

I shrugged. "I like nuts."

"But do you eat them every day?" I shook my head.

"Lucille! You HAVE to eat protein! Oh my gosh, that's not good for you! You should always have meat or beans or something, you have to eat protein every day..."

Which is when the should-ing started. I am honestly excited to learn about food and the few times people have talked about what they know I've listened avidly. But the should-ing just takes all the fun out of it. I went to bed.

I hope this Human Diet course has a textbook or something, so I can learn this stuff without causing a panic.


Posted by Lucille on June 4, 2011 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I'm starting to think the reports of Gambian rain are distorted. We were walking to the store and it started drizzling a little bit. We'd put our ponchos on before we left, so I started trekking forward, hoping to finish our errand while it was still a light rain. After a minute I realized I was alone and the rest of the group was huddled next to the nearest hut. "Aren't you guys coming?"

"Shouldn't we wait for the rain to die down?" they said, which is when I remembered that two of the four people I was with were from Texas.

"How often does it rain like this where you live?"

They looked horrified. "You mean it rains like this in Portland?!"



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Sometimes I have the privilege of being a part of intimate, powerful moments in other people’s lives. I cannot and would not share these stories, because they are not mine to tell. However, they touch my life and become part of my own story. When I share these moments here, you can trust that I have not broken anyone’s confidentiality. The characters are invented. They are not real, but could be. I take creative license to communicate the essence of my experience while respecting the privacy of others.