Monday November 22
This was a day of strolling through water. From the clinic to the school; from the school to the village center; from the village center to the boarding school land; from the land back to the school; then back to the clinic.
First I sat in on a sanitation meeting with chiefs, elders, and IRD staff. The long-standing flood has aggravated sanitation problems in the village. Cattle are unable to graze the flooded land, so they’re restricted to the home compounds. Their waste is gathered, picked up or swept into piles, laid in the sun to dry, and used as fertilizer. The large numbers of cattle in the village facilitate the collection process but aggravate the waste in the village and contaminate the flooded paths and ponds. The fact that there aren’t many products available in the village to buy cuts down on trash, but what trash there is litters some areas. In direct view of our meeting place was a stagnant, algae-covered pond dotted with plastic bottles and cans. Another problem is human waste. There are no latrines in the village other than those at the Lost Boys clinic and the IRD compound. And some families allow their children to defecate in the yards of their neighbors and don’t clean up after them, which enrages everyone, but there are no consequences.
With IRD’s help, the chiefs and administrators will set standards for individuals and families regarding sanitation issues. But how to insure compliance? The chiefs want to fine villagers who don’t comply. IRD staff were concerned that the suggested fines were too high, that people in the village would have no ability to pay, but the chiefs couldn’t be swayed. Future solutions—a group is coming to the village in a few months to build 100 latrines. When the flooding subsides, the men will return the cattle to cattle camps.
After the meeting I accompanied Judith and the other female staff member for a meeting with village women on health and hygiene. Somehow, the communications had been confused and the women didn’t come, so I missed out on this important meeting.
I’m leaving on the 24th. It’s the only day that AIM Air can pick me and the other two passengers up and leave off clinic supplies—including powdered milk for Lashes. Now my dilemma was to teach someone to feed her so that I wouldn’t worry she’d starve after I left. Ever since I began caring for Lashes, I’d asked staff what would happen when I left. I was assured she would be taken care of, but I wanted someone to be in charge. Chol, one of the younger staff who works around the compound—cutting grass with a machete, for instance—was interested. So we began.
Lashes wanted nothing to do with Chol. She had begun to feed from the syringe with gusto. The battle Lashes had once put up when I gently forced her mouth open (she had no back teeth, so I got good leverage poking my finger into the side of her mouth) was now a messy, eager, can’t-get-enough-milk-fast-enough fest. The syringe held only 10 ml, and she was now drinking 500 to 700 ml total, split into three times a day. Initially I fed her on my lap. Folded, her long legs became a small package, and I could support her head easily this way. She rubbed her milky mouth all over my arm and chest, sniffing me and licking me. I walked around in dirty shirts each day and had to wash myself and her milky snout after each feeding. As she got more accustomed to the syringe, she began to object to sitting on my lap. I have a long red scratch from her sharp hooves when she jumped up suddenly and slipped across my thigh.
Finally, she was eager enough for the milk she would stand near me and drink without me holding her body or her head. However, each time I withdrew the syringe she head butted my legs, slipping under my skirt, looking for a teat. The constant head-butting made it hard for me to fill the syringe and caused the staff to laugh.
Chol and I sat we sat next to each other outside the clinic dining hall—Lashes likes to be inside the dining room as well as outside—that could be a problem when she is full grown. I gave him the syringe, but I had to sit right next to him, my arm gently guiding her head toward the syringe, away from me. If I moved, she followed. If my hand wasn’t near his, she wouldn’t drink. Eventually, she turned her head toward Chol for the milk, but spent the syringe-refill time head butting me.
I am writing this from Eldoret, Kenya on Wednesday, December 8, which shows how far behind I am on posting. Bad Internet connections at hotels. Or Internet that is off for three days in a row. Plus too busy with the boarding school kids to recap our days. However, I have had Facebook chats and emails from staff assuring me that Lashes has adapted to the loss of her second mother, after the first day of rejecting milk most of the day. She’s friendly with all the staff but accepts milk only from Chol. And she still pees on people if they lift her off the ground. It happened a few times to me, so I learned to hold her away from my body. I guess she gives a clear message about how she feels about being picked up.
One of my friends asked if I had separation anxiety from my little antelope, and another reminded me of Lulu, the baby gazelle in “Out of Africa.” I read the book recently but hadn’t remembered that. Here’s a passage:
“She drank the milk with a polite, pernickety mien, as if she had been pressed by an overkind hostess. . . . When Lulu grew up and stood in the flower of her young loveliness she was a slim delicately rounded doe, from her nose to her toes unbelievably beautiful. She looked like a minutely painted illustration to Heine’s song of the wise and gentle gazelles by the flow of the river Ganges.”
Lashes is like that too, but my description not as vivid and beautiful.