Monday, October 8, 2012

What's in a Name?

"Do you know what the real meaning of 'Makalondi' is?", I asked David last Thursday, as we were driving out to the clinic.  "I've heard several "meanings" but the people I asked were new." 
David replied that he Did know the meaning, because of the way that stories are passed down through families among the Gourma.  His dad had explained it to him when he was a child. 
He began by explaining the real words that make up 'Makalondi'.  Because the village is located in a low valley, he said that years ago there were Monkeys that used to live in the area.  The word for monkeys (plural) is "Mamii".  There was a big tree in the area that had a hole in the trunk, and the word for a "tree with a hole in it" is "Lonli".  They called that spot, "Mamilonli", and over time and with the arrival of other peoples, the name evolved into "Makalondi". 

So then David asked me, "You know what my village, Hanlonli, means (where the clinic is located)?"  I knew it had to at least involve a tree with a hole in it!  I was right!  There is a tree, and David has seen this tree when he was young and his father pointed it out to him.  It's a tree that produces a little dark fruit about the size of an acorn.  The fruit are called "Hana".  So, "Hana" and "Lonli" became "Hanlonli".  Hana fruit on the Tree with the hole.  Ok, good enough.

Now David asked me, "Do you know how the village of Koulbou got its name?"  We had just driven through Koulbou.  "Nope", I replied. 
"Well, there is that very big Baobab tree we just passed in the middle of the village and every year it bears its fruit, which we call "Monkey fruit".  One year there was a very bad famine and so everyone in the village began running for the tree to try and get some fruit before the other villagers could get it. 
There wasn't enough for everyone, so from then on the village was called "Koulbou".  'Koulu' means 'next to' and 'boutibou' is 'tree' (the shortened, 'bou' is used for "it"- to refer to the tree). 
So the village name means, "Stay next to it"!!  Isn't that Great?!!

At that I just had to laugh as I imagined people jostling each other, trying to stay next to the tree and guard their spot!  
You have to love the history lessons here!

A Lavender Suitcase

Last Monday I received a huge surprise. 
On Tuesday morning at Coffee Time in the office, I was excited to announce my surprise to my friends and colleagues.  So I got their attention (which is hard at coffee time!) and then I announced, "I have some exciting news…Yesterday I was given a lab in a suitcase for my clinic!  Those cost over $5000!"  I was excited and nearly jumping up and down.
As everyone began talking and asking me about it, I looked across the room at Nancy, who looked confused, and was asking Beki, "A Lavender suitcase??… that costs $5000??"  Beki told her, "No, it's a Lab in a suitcase." to which Nancy was even more confused and wondered out loud... "why would anyone put a dog in a suitcase?"!!!

At that point I realized that I hadn't explained my gift very well!  Others helped me explain and we had some good laughs.  The truth is, I'm very excited about this wonderful gift to our rural clinic! 

All too often, I see patients who really should have some basic blood work done in order to make a definitive diagnosis.  But more often than not, when I explain that they will have to go to the city to have blood tests done, they never go.  The distance and cost is just too much for many of them, and the problem of lodging while in the city is another.  Often in the past several years I've wished for and prayed for a way to be able to do some simple tests there in the bush. 

Other times it would be a lifesaver, as in the instance of our expectant moms.  Since anemia is a chronic problem for most of the population, it only gets more pronounced when a woman is carrying a baby, often resulting in a mother's death during or shortly after birth.  At our prenatal clinic we put every mom on vitamins and iron, but we have not been able to check their blood to make sure that it is adequately strong.  Checking the Hemoglobin and Hematocrit in the blood would really help!

On Monday I received word from an organization which works in Niger, that they would like to help me by purchasing and bringing me a Lab-In-A-Suitcase in two weeks!  What a huge Surprise and a huge Gift!  This suitcase contains the equipment to do a number of lab tests which will help me to know how to more effectively treat our patients.  Praise God for bringing us this resource just as we are opening and using our new treatment room!  God bless the organization, which chose to bless our clinic and the people of our area!

So a Lavender Suitcase turns out to be a medical Laboratory! 
No Lab puppies in a suitcase!