Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It's Hot Season again

We have been a little off the radar lately. The counselors with the West African Mobile Member Care Team recommended we take some time out. In the meantime Jennifer has been diagnosed with cataracts. She has been in Canada since early April in order to see the surgeon and prep for the surgery. While she’s been away we have experience the height of hot season and it will continue until the first rainfall.

Giant dust storm. Still no rain.
Hot season is a dusty dry time and this year it has brought meningitis with it. Many of you have probably seen this on the local news. While we were vaccinated before ever coming to Niger, most Nigeriens never have been. The government has tried to provide vaccines for children but the reports I have heard suggest that some have still not been able to be vaccinated. A nurse told me that meningitis usually impacts the young and the weak but this year it appears to strike without prejudice. I was told that a student at the Pastor’s business school excused himself from class saying he had a headache and wanted to lay down. He never got up. I’ve heard similar stories from others. The Pastor has brought a nurse into his school and the church to vaccinate those had not yet received the shot.

Jennifer had her surgery this past Monday and everything seemed to go without difficulty despite the horror stories she had heard before going in. Before leaving the clinic the doctor asked to do an eye exam. Despite the cloudiness in her eyes from the procedure, she appeared to have 20/20 vision! What the final result will be when her eyes finally be when her eyes clear is yet to be seen but regardless she is very happy with her new vision. If only she could finish with those drops…

The night before her surgery the power in the house here started going haywire. Around the midnight I heard the ceiling fan speed up and the air conditioner started making an awful noise. Power irregularities and blackouts are normal for hot season. I started going through the house shutting off everything I could. In one room a light bulb POOFED the moment I switched on the light. When I finally reached the kitchen both the fridge and the freezer were making an awful noise. I powered both down and waited five to ten minutes thinking the situation would stabilize itself but every time I tried the larger appliances they made awful noise. I resigned myself to going back to bed without air conditioning. [Our daytime highs are in the mid-forties and it doesn’t fall below thirty degrees at night.] I woke at five I tried plugging but once more they made an awful noise and I was afraid they had both been fried. I waited until seven and called the technician who fixes fridges and air conditioners.

When he arrived around half past nine I tried to show him the problem I was having and low and behold they both worked fine. I got him to look at the air conditioner that had made all the noise and he figured it might be low on freon gas. He added some gas and told me to run it for half an hour see if it how it worked. I was happy to comply! Around noon I was work in the room (of course I had “forgotten” to shut the air conditioner off) when suddenly the fan started speed up the phone charger plugged in beside went POOF and started to smoke, and the air conditioner started making a racket. I once more ran through the house shutting everything off, mumbling unkind words about the power company. I called my neighbour Jeremy and asked if he was asking problems at his house. He said no but said it sounded like the time one of the breakers at the clinic was going bad and sending surges throughout the building. I called the electrician and when he finally arrived he said the main breaker in the house was shorting and sending 380 volts from time to time through certain phases of the house while shorting others down to about 100. (Outlets here give normally give 220 V like Europe). When he finally installed the new breaker it was almost nine o’clock at night.

The next morning, our worker found the water bill at the front gate. He came to me saying, “Are you sure there isn’t a water leak some place in the house? Your water bill is outrageously high!” In fact, the readings covered a period when we had mostly been away. I asked him to check the meter to see if was turning right now even though all the taps were off. Nothing. “You know there’s water all over the outside wall by the kitchen,” he said. Nope, didn’t know that. I called the landlords plumber who said he couldn’t come until four in the afternoon. When he finally arrived and saw what was happening he said, “Oh we got open this up right away and block this up,” and started hammering away at the wall. He opened it up and found the broken pipe capped and said, “Well, I can’t fix this today. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the materials to fix it tomorrow.” We still have no water in the kitchen.

This morning the light won’t come on in the fridge and the water bottles don’t feel very cold despite sitting in there all night.

I guess its just another hot season in Niger.

Despite the challenges God is good and there are many here who would be happy just have some electricity and a fan that blows everyone once in a while. Pray for Niger and for Jennifer’s recovery from surgery.