Friday, October 1, 2010

Where smiles are born :)

The landscape up in Mahajanga (north-west coast) is sooo much different than my home on the east coast. This region hasn't had any rain since April, which explains the golden dryness of the hills, valleys, and plains. Even though this is obviously beautiful in its own right, I'm looking forward to getting back to Betsi-Land with all its green wetness! :)

A market in downtown Mahajanga. These are some local cacti and small Baobab trees (top left) that ar commonly grown in this region.

This cutie was made to live in the front of the camera- she was smilin &posing all day for us!

Even though the patient was still out of it from anasthesia, the smiles on the face of this mother (far left) and sisters illustrates their happiness, after the completion of her 14 year old sons' cleft lip surgury.

It usually takes a week or so for the babies to really show off their smile, after the pain wears down, but this mother is already happy with her daughter's beautiful new face.

I think this momma told me MISAOTRA BETSAKA (thanks so much!) a good dozen times. Most families were sooo appreciative to everyone involved: of course the surgeons, anasthesiologists, dentists, nurses, and us translators. I loved being able to sit down with the families and share their happiness of their childs' transformation (which is shown in next pic).

This is her before and after shot. Such a precious soul.

This American nurse, Kathy, was such an enigma of energy the whole 10 days. It's obvious she's already been on about 10 Op. Smile missions and has a special connection to these kids, no matter the cultural/ language barrier.

My first witnessed surgury. He is a 15 year old who will be recieving local anasthethsia to fix his cleft lip.

This was such an amazing experience to be right up in there with the surgeons, holding the patients' hand, and comforting them as much as possible through this no doubt frightening event. We PCV translator's talked to the patients (usually 13 years and older/ younger would be general anasth.) as they were recieving the shots of nova-caine (mitovy-tovy mainaikatra tantely, fa dia ngoly: it'll feel close to getting stung by a bee, but then will go numb) and as the doc's progress through the surgury. These guys and girls cut with such confidence! Don't know if I could do it, but sure was awesome to observe and learn about it!

Vita!!!! (Finished!) He looks great!

Bailey (fellow PCV) and I were there as he first stared in the mirror at his new face. He exerted a humble satisfaction with his doctor's work. I was sooo happy to have led him through this life-changing experience.

This was one smiley dad, all day long!! So precious!

This is the finished result of the baby getting worked on below. She was known to be one of the most difficult cases, but was a success!

She worked for about 2 hours to finish this adorable lil girl, it was quite intense! She had a bilateral, complete lip and palet.

Esther and I all scrubbed out!

This lil guy wanted to show off his before/ after ;P "Tena bagosy izy!!" said his mom: He's so handsome!

My amazing sister, Kelly, in my Betsimisaraka family(our east coast regional tribe) gave me a super fantastic birthday prezzy!!! She woke me up for a deeelicious bed n. brekky of Bolo (the best, delicious choco/cream cookies snack made here) pancakes, with a homemade card. This was at our Peace Corps hostel, the day everyone left to get back to site/ head on from the awesome 10 days of Op. Smile work we did together. Thanks sista, I love u, girl!

This was my first stop on my business trip to the northwest coast. Started with a Handwashing kabary with the women and kids of Jennie's site (this is her house in the background) of Berivotra, near Mahajanga. Global Handwashing Day- Oct. 15!!!! :)

After the handwashing kabary, I moved on to speaking about birth control with the women and mothers. Jennie said she thinks the average family has 8 kids. In this photo, I'm showing the poster that asks "Where do you like" with 1 picture a family of 8 kids, scraggly skinny, not enough food, unhappy; and the other is a happy family of 3 children. This is the first group of women that had a couple say they like the family with sooo many kids, since more kids, more help for work they have. We all had good discussions on why kids shouldn't have to be so responsible to work at such young ages, and most everyone participated in these talks.

Stop 2 of my business trip to Mahajanga: teaching at fellow Education PCV, Brian's site in the city. He works at a verrry well run and managed private pre-school and elementary school. It was kind of culture shock to see such clean kids! But I feel good about introducing soap to their routine: previously they would wash their hands with just water after using the latrine or after recess but now have shown to understand my lessons on why soap is so important in preventing bacterial diseases and worms, since Brian has reported back to me that they're still using it :).

Another class of pupils with squeaky clean hands.

This is the school's elementary kids. They were "efa mahay be" (already knew well) the reasons why we need to have good body and drinking water sanitation.

Brittany, Kinsey, Katie, Chris, Corie, Kanto, Beth, and Dorothy: The reinstatement "zoky's" (older siblins). Our last time at Lac Mantasoa all together ;,( There are 11 of us that did return back here to Radagascar November 2009, after being evacuated last year, but only 8 of us could make this Close-of-Service conference that helped us start thinking about how to say goodbye to our villages/have a proper closure, look towards the future, and how to articulate all the skills' learned through our Peace Corps service.

" Keep it Real" We're doin' it right here, right now!! :) Bamboo, 1 of our training center's dog wanted to get in with it 2

Mantasoa alllways has some spectacular sunsets over the lac, brilliant colors!

These are some kids playing, in the Mantasoa area (on the plateau/ center of the island). Mahay be!!

Some of my village kids playing in Antetezambaro (on the east coast) I'm sooooo looking forward to getting back to them soon!! I miss the east coast vibe and heat!