Sunday, May 30, 2010

Children of Nigeria

My last post on View from the Ridge included pictures taken of children in Ecuador.  In 2007 my grandson Mitchell and I went on a Global Health Mission trip to Nigeria.  I took over 500 pictures in two weeks and I would like to share some of those that feature the children. 

 This is Mitchell, age 14.  He began this trip, his first short term mission, as a child and returned as a mature teenager.  Well, almost.  Mature and teenager are probably two words that don't go together, but he did come back more mature than when he left.  This is my daughter's and son-in-law's number one son, the oldest of three children.  I wasn't sure they would let him go with me to Nigeria because I do not have a stellar record while traveling.  So we began the trip with me watching over him like a hawk in an attempt to get him home safely and not lose him in some airport.  After the first week I noticed, and so did everyone else, a change in the way he was concerned with my well being.  He started finding me several times during the day checking on me, making sure I had plenty of water, asking me if I had taken my pills, wanting to know if he could help me.  We ended the trip with him watching after me and wanting to help carry some of my bags through the airports.  It was amazing how much he grew up in two weeks. 

 Motorcycles are the transportation of choice in Nigeria.  Most are made in China and SE Asia and are of the 250cc class and fuel efficient.  The one on the left is actually a taxi.  They cruise the streets and stop and pick up passengers.  The one on the right is a family of three.  During our stay we actually saw a family of five riding on a motorcycle going to church one Sunday.  Rarely did you ever seen anyone wearing a helmet.  
Accidents are all to common and when it does, motorcycles are pressed in to ambulance duty. Notice that there is driver, then patient, then attendant to hold the poor fellow from falling off.

 We arrived at our first clinic on a Sunday in order to unload equipment and supplies so we would be ready to see patients early Monday morning.  As we were touring the hospital to acquaint ourselves with the layout, these kids kept calling out to me to "snap me, snap me".  I could not figure out what they were talking about.  Surely it was not to snap them on the head.  No, they pointed to my camera and repeated "snap me".  They wanted their picture taken.  They love to see their faces on a digital camera.  They never cease in the enjoyment of seeing themselves and will laugh and giggle every time you take their picture and then show it to them. 

 This happy fellow was all smiles and just had a ball dancing around and showing off for us.

At every clinic - actually for any large gathering of people - there were always kids selling snacks, fruit, drinks, hard boiled eggs, you name it, someone probably was selling it.  It was always kids that the families had sent out to earn extra money for the household. And they loved to have their picture taken. 

 Even the moms wanted pictures taken of their babies.  Sometimes it became a circus as each wanted their baby up front.  And as soon as the camera came out so did every kid close by who might have noticed.  The vendor kid in the back has already had his picture taken (see above) but he was back for more.

  One of the learning curves we were subjected to was that you do not announce that you have candy to give away.  We almost lost two nurses when they decided that it would be nice to give away some candy to a few kids.  Two seconds later they were mobbed by 30 or 40 kids and finally had to just throw the candy up in the air and escape the chaos. 
 Nigerians tend to carry every thing on their heads.  You see a lot of kids doing the same thing, starting out early in childhood.  Most patients seeking medical help at the clinics had joint problems, neck and back pain, all related to the amount of manual labor that is prevalent in 3rd world countries.  It starts with these small kids who are carrying water home.  The girl in red is probably carrying 5 gallons which weights at least 45 lbs., much to much weight to be stressing neck bones at that young age.  I saw one small boy of about 10 or 11 yrs. of age carrying a 10 or 12  gallon container of water on his head that had to weigh at least 90 lbs.   An adult lifted it up and set it on his head.  No wonder that Nigerians have neck and back problems. 

  One day I saw a kid with a kettle on his head selling something out of it.  Finally my curiosity got the best of me and I went over to take a look. There were two ladies picking through what appeared to be some sort of stew and removing pieces of meat.  I asked what it was and the boy replied "Dog!".  Fortunately I had already eaten lunch. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ecuador animals

I want to share some pictures of animals taken in Ecuador.  There is nothing unusual about them except for their surroundings.  This goat was tied up with several others outside the church in Succua where our team was holding a health clinic for the local people.  Most farm animals are tethered with a long rope and stake and put out in the morning and retrieved in the evening to water and bed down

In every village and town there are numerous little roadside stands that served up various meals that included chicken, pork, guinea pig, who knows what else. They roast most on spits over wood fires and the aromas are very enticing. If you wanted a pork taco or sandwich, they would just slice off what you wanted from a pig like this. 
This guy either butchered this cow or purchased the head and now is selling cheek meat off the back of his pick-up.  He had only the head, none of the rest of the cow.  In the local street markets you could purchase goat and cow heads, already skinned and ready for your evening meal.  They would scrape every piece of meat off the head and then cook the remainder in a soup for flavor. 

Pigs were never tethered, they were generally in pens or just turned out to run loose. Seldom are any animals put in a fenced pasture. Hardly ever saw fences in Ecuador. These were penned next to a sugar cane mill that we visited.

 Most shopping for food is a daily thing that involves going to an open air market.  Since few families have refrigeration most meat is purchased live and killed the day consumed.  These are Guinea pigs that will be skinned and gutted, put on a skewer and roasted over a wood fire.  

  I think these were some kind of pigeons. 
 This is a cow tethered in a field and you can see how she has eaten the grass in a circle.  The next day the farmer will move the stake to another site.  Sometimes they put them by the road side to graze the ditches.
These burros are carrying sugar can to the pressing mill.  They load them up and turn them loose and they know the way to the press.  Then they head back on their own.  One worker walks along and makes sure they keep moving but for the most part they keep a steady pace without any encouragement 
 Big load and the dude is half asleep.
 Just a baby pig
 In Villcabamba, every morning about six a.m. a group of horses numbering between 12 and 15 would start walking up this road.  They were pastured at night and then released in the morning to return to the stables about a mile where they would be saddled up and available for horse back rides and tours.  About thirty minutes later, a lone rider would come along and pick up any stragglers, but usually he would only have two or three.
 One Saturday, some of our team wanted to take a morning horse back ride and tour of the valley.  These horses came down the road in a full trot with no lead ropes connecting them together.  They came down in this triangle formation all staying right together.  When the owner called out "whoa" in a normal voice, they all came to a halt and lined up at the curb and never made a move.  There were about 20 people milling around, taking pictures and mounting up and not one of those horses attempted to move.  It was quite a display of training and discipline.

 In Ecuador you can park your ass anywhere you want, I guess.
 These burros were hauling masonry sand from the river where workers would loud the boxes with river sand and then send the burros back to the work site.  Workers there would unload the boxes, swat the burros and they would return to the river.  One worker just kind of walked around making sure the stragglers kept moving, but the burros knew where they were going and no one was leading or herding them.                                                      
Apparently you can also park your horses wherever you want. These were being re-shod with new shoes.