Wrapping Things Up

2 07 2012

By Kelly Andrejko

               While the majority of you will be celebrating a good ol’ American Fourth of July this Wednesday, it will be crunch time for me here in Lome. The final ten day countdown begins tomorrow, and it has turned my life into a mad flurry of interviews. At least eighty interviews in, I’ve had discussions with a wide variety of people: shop keepers, public hospital doctors, medical students, traditional healers, even a health ministry official.  Yet I’m still discovering new dimensions to my project daily- this week alone, there is a diviner, market herbalists, the head of the traditional medicine federation here in Togo, and a university department which researches the toxicity of native medical plants on the agenda (not counting the 20+ general population interviews I hope to conduct).

               It will be hard for me to find a place to stop as it seems like everyone I talk to has a novel opinion to offer. Some of my favorite interviews have been those which are more spontaneous, such as one I conducted two weeks ago on a day off from shadowing at the hospital. I had heard from my host mother that the woman who lived across the courtyard from us was a nurse/midwife, but little did I know she had a whole private clinic set up in the last house on the row. I jokingly asked why she let me go to the hospital to shadow every day when I could literally roll just a couple feet out of bed. Nevertheless, she offered great insight into what being a nurse with her own practice is like and how she offers a cheaper, yet safe and modern, alternative to traditional medicine. Another interview I conducted just earlier today at the hospital turned the vaccine clinic into a lively thirty minute debate between four men and I about why I haven’t been using traditional medicines while here in Togo. Apparently, although it is a reason for many non-users I’ve spoken with here, my lack of knowledge is not an acceptable excuse.

               So. Deep breath in. Ten days. Twenty-plus interviews. Countless cups of café au lait, plates of plantains, and bottles of Youki to keep me running. Unavoidable rainy season delays (people here hibernate when it rains- understandably so, as from personal experience, riding a motorcycle in the pouring rain is highly uncomfortable).Here we go.

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