Carolyn Johnson

|| November Email Notes ||

November, 1998



All is well. The boys even had a little Halloween. An American family who has been here for 10 years drummed up enough American kids to have a costume party and we carved pumpkins. Each adult with a bag of candy sat by a luminary through out her large compound for the kids to hike around and trick or trick. Most of these kids have grown up here and had to be taught to say trick or treat. After repeating it over and over, I asked one little girl what she says. Her answer was "Please." I said, "It starts with a T". She said "Thank you?" No. Then she said "Two. please?" I gave in and gave her a treat.

And we had a Thanksgiving! We celebrated on the Friday evening because the kids and Cliff were at work and school that week. Three families shared the cooking and we invited three other American families to join us. We had 10 adults and 8 kids and our living/dining room wasn't even crowded. This is probably the biggest house we will ever live in.

Jake has fallen into a "scout" troop. A couple of families from New Zealand have organized a home grown version and this group of six boys have been building fires, blazing trails and even went camping last weekend. They ran into some tin miners and got to try their hand at it. Both of our boys have found some nice friends so they are happy.

Cliff is loving his work and is much appreciated here. He gave a lecture on Nov 4 at the commissioning of the computer centre here at Unijos (University of Jos) to which many dignitaries were invited. The US embassy person sent from Abuja promptly went back and arranged a number of talks for Cliff to give around to country. Of course, Cliff is delighted to travel and see more. It will help tremendously with his research.

The kids are the real beneficiaries of this trip. They are having a year full of new friends, school, language(hausa), food, lifestyle adventures, etc with very little stress. They have an environment here that seems impossible back home. There is no TV, no commercialism, very few organized activities so kids just play kid directed activities until dark., Mom and Dad are home every evening and most weekends. They are rich in pets which are all outside in the beautiful weather (Cliff is allergic to dogs and cats so we can't have them in Iowa.) One of our dogs just had seven puppies and my boys are beside themselves with joy.

Michael is complaining about a bug in his Milo (cocoa). You would think he would be used to it by now.

It is strange that in many ways we feel safer here than at home. My biggest concern is the higher risk of major trauma on the road. The drivers are nuts and the cars are in terrible condition. Cliff and I exclaimed when we saw a traffic light as we were driving out of town in a new direction today and noticed it was working. It turned red so we stopped, nearly causing a major pileup. Cars whizzed around us with their horns blaring. How silly of us. And if there is an accident, the victims are at the mercy of a good Samaritan to scoop them up and take them to the hospital.

I have visited a few medical institutions in fascination. The "ambulance" is for the purpose of fetching the doctor if needed and if it has gas or wheels (it's currently on blocks.) The local teaching hospital doesn't even own a defibrillator, ventilator, or have the capacity to do emergency EKGs. They say they don't have ischemic heart disease here. No one talks about cholesterol but there is plenty of diabetes and hypertension. I have seen numerous cases of rickets - sad cases that would make the textbooks in the states. In spite of very limited equipment I am impressed with the docs. They do a lot with what they have (even if I do think they over prescribe.) Very few tests are done, results aren't trusted, and most treatment is empirical. If a drug therapy fails they don't know if it isn't because the drugs weren't really what they are supposed to be. I guess there are a lot of fake drugs floating around. Also I notice patients receiving short term therapy for long term problems such as blood pressure and depression. As in the states, that has more to do with patient compliance (read finances) than doctor’s recommendation. Litigation is not even a small factor. Patients take what they get which is better than nothing. They say they don't have PAs but after watching someone everyone called "Doctor" monitor several laboring women and do a circumcision I was told that he was not really a doctor but a Community Extension Health Worker. Currently I am assisting a visiting dentist who is here for a few weeks to provide for the missionary families. OK, as Cliff would say, enough doc talk.

The power has gone out about 3 times since I started this email. I used to think of candles as decorative. I like the romantic atmosphere of candlelight especially when I have a full upper water tank (electric pump), the drinking water supply is well stocked (electric distiller) and dinner is not half done in the electric oven/stove.


OO  Our Jos Experience Home Page

OO  The Jos Project Home Page

OO   Internetworks in International Development

OO  The University of Iowa

1998 by Cliff Missen