Saturday, August 31, 2013

Baptisms and Birth Control

Jingles of the mortar and pestle resonated across the compound reminding everyone that we would step out of monotonous chores for the day to celebrate the newest member of the family. By the time I opened my door to the world, the young ladies already fetched water from the well and had a choking fire prepared for the mid-morning feast. The 3.5 kilo/8 lbs baby was exactly 2 weeks old and therefore ready to be blessed and named. His mom was allotted the standard week of rest and he was able to cuten up a bit before crowds of in-law visits. Typically, the family organizes the party and then sends verbal invitations with traditional Kolda Nuts for the elders.
In the late morning, as soon as the last of the dew evaporated, guests filled ready-made benches and neighbors hoovered to see the "baby shower" gifts. The more intricate gifts sent by distant family or village groups are gift large bowls filled with rice and basic ingredients, sheets of patterned fabric, and baby care products. Village style gift baskets. The women also open the floor for monetary donations by holding a collection sheet in front of the hut entrance. The outspoken women tend to find their place guilting freeloaders into donations and then prodding them to dance with a melodic "Thank You!" song. I can never slip through before my name is put into the song for a quick shag. 
The action really starts when the Griot announces the baby's name, shouting it in every cardinal direction. Sometimes the parents have separate (special) names that only they use for the child. They proceed by shaving the baby's head, careful not to loose any of the hair that could be used to curse the baby. 
After giving the name, the festivity rolls on with treats and the first meal. The men slaughter a sheep or goat and the feast continues through the day. There is always a debate over the best way to divy up the meat to insure that all households receive a share. I finally was not delivered the prized organs. 
This particular naming ceremony was exciting since it was put on by my immediate family. My sister was in full bloom for what seemed like months, as Im sure she would agree, and I just knew she was going to give birth every time I went into town. Finally I have been present. During the last two years in Sare Meta, all three ladies of my house have had a baby and our village population has increased by about 25, a significant number for only 350 inhabitants. 
Planned parenting education has shown successful as women are speaking up and taking action to control pregnancy (and young marriage) within safe measures. The latest WHO survey in 2005 indicated that the percent of married women using modern contraceptives increased to 10% with trends projected to continue increasing.  The average Senegalese woman has approximately 5 surviving children throughout her reproductive life. The high, yet ideal number reflects the demand for physical labor on family crops, insurance of reverse caretaking in old age, and high perinatal mortality rate, which accounts for stillbirths and neonatal mortalities. Again in the 2005 survey, WHO reports an average perinatal mortality rate of 45 per 1000 pregnancies with rates twice as high in rural areas. Comparatively, while there is a 1 in 3,600 chance a woman will die from maternal causes in the developed world, sub-Saharan women face a ghastly 1 in 31 chance of dying from such causes. (Data from PRB’s  2011 World’s Women and Girls Data Sheet)
With progress both visible and reported in family planning, current government and NGO projects continue to press the women's health agenda by addressing maternal malnutrition, low birth weight, and continued developmental requirements. 
“Public health is like sex. Thinking about it and talking about it is not the same as doing it.” -Dr. Daniel Singer, Director for Global Health Research and International Activities at National Institutes of Health

1 comment:

  1. Good morning how are you?

    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

    For all this I would ask you one small favor:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Senegal? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Senegal in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Avenida Juan de la Cierva, 44
    28902 Getafe (Madrid)

    If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely

    Emilio Fernandez