Jackie – Final Blog Post

Our work at the Case de Santé is coming to a close as we’re wrapping up the program; and as we’re writing the final report, I’m extremely happy about the progress we’ve made since arriving two months ago.

We found out that the 33 families who were insured this summer saved on average 1500 CFA each – a figure that is significantly higher for those families who’ve had births, who saved up to 5000-6000 CFA. The Case de Santé, on the other hand, is adapting well to new policy changes and making good profits overall, so the community health insurance system, already on its 7th year, continues to be sustainable. After completing many informative interviews, the CDS Committee, Charlie, Sam and I hosted a village meeting in the school publicizing the benefits of being insured, and thanking those (especially Basile and Odile, who work at the CDS) for their extraordinary hard work throughout the year. The meeting went really well, although it had its hilarious Kuwdé elements, when pouring rain, telephone calls and brief naps interrupted many speeches. We also handed out all the insurance cards, which were quite popular, reiterated all the changes of the system, which were again well-received. To bring everything together, we’re now writing up a full report on what we’ve learned this summer about the functioning of the insurance, about families and other statistical analyses we have attempted to improve future services.

The past two weeks have been extremely eventful: as a short vacation, we made a trip further up North to see fascinating double-storied homesteads from a different village, where the animals lived on the first floor and the people on the second. The chateaux were intricately designed fortresses, designed to prevent animal thieves and other intruders. After we returned, the families in Kuwdé very kindly hosted little gatherings to send us off, and last night there was a village-wide party where we had our initial welcome ceremony, where all of us – young children, old women and working men – danced and sang in Kabiye, which continued for hours even in heavy rain.

I can’t really express how sad I am about leaving this beautiful village and amazing country, especially when I just feel like I’ve begun to understand life here. I’ve made local food and beer with my host mother, and have seriously come to love pate (the local corn-based meal) with peanut-okra sauce – much more than I like pasta with tomato sauce. I will miss the unconditional warmth of the people here, the stunning sights in Lao and especially my host family immensely. I not only hope that one day I might be able to return here, perhaps with more skill and time to offer, but also that I can bring back home some of the generosity, kindness and appreciation that characterize the Kuwde spirit.

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