“Hey guys, what’s with all the charcoal?” I wondered at Anthony and Heidi as we stood in the Campbell’s kitchen.
“It seems as though our guests mistook the dog’s water bowl for a dishwasher, soooo you may want some charcoal,” Heidi informed me, appearing more amused than appalled.
“No! Not again! I cannot get sick!” I thought to myself.
Just then Jephthae (Mrs. Campbell) entered the room, confirmed the situation, and proceeded to apportion to me a healthy dose of charcoal which I eagerly downed in seconds. Desperate to dispel whatever may have begun developing inside me, I cautiously filled my cup again to make sure every last grain of charcoal from my cup (in this case, washed with soap and clean water) was eliminating any unwanted bacteria I may have ingested. There was no way I was getting sick again! Besides, everything was going great, how could this come upon me now?
Anthony and I had been invited to a community welcoming ceremony for the Campbell’s into the village. We had been waiting inside until Robert burst casually through the door simply to say, “They’re here.” At this time we had stepped outside to see what might as well have been the feeding of the five thousand, save the five loaves and two fish.
After some time of futile efforts to make sense of the indecipherable discussion between the village chief, a pastor, and Robert (Mr. Campbell) among the murmuring crowd, I simply rested my interpretation skills until it was time to eat. When that time came they brought out sizeable barrels. One contained spicy noodles with some unidentifiable meat, and the other (despite requests for something milder) spicy vegetarian noodles! They then began to serve up and distribute each dish leaving no one with a grumbling tummy.
Now, it was only after we had partook in the delicious meal which could be approached best with respectable temperance and coconut milk (as this was the most favorable way to avoid as much intestinal damage as possible without appearing disrespectful) that we realized the potentially disadvantageous effects of a well-meant attempt at hygiene, for they had washed even their serving hands and utensils in the dog’s water dish.
Fortunately, I did not experience any sickness like the last episode, but I still find myself unsatisfied with the application of hygiene, or lack thereof.
When I first began teaching, some of the students would come to school sick, and when they found it profitable to clear their throat of lurking bacteria, they would make sure to let me know by forcefully projecting puffs of air and esophageal debris directly onto the external front of my center for sensory input. Either that or they would cough into their hands on which they would receive from me an affirmative high five.
There could also be found things left in the bathroom that should not be left visible or tangible to another, but there’s no need to venture any further into that realm. Fortunately, we are blessed to have the cook and other staff and students regularly cleaning all areas of the school. It still remains a mystery if all are in the habit of washing their hands though, coughed upon or not. Either way, there is no question as to why people are getting sick in the first place. There is simply little understanding of how diseases spread.
For instance, a few months ago we had a bit of an outbreak of chicken pox. At first, there were only a few cases found in the kindergarten class. But it was only a matter of time before the Kindergarten teacher and an unfortunate selection of students from each class were infected. All we could do was ask those already contaminated to stay home and discourage physical contact among the students and staff. Only about a week ago did the last of my students finally return to school after recovering.
“Some of them just don’t get it,” they told us, “you can tell them till they’re blue in the face, but they just won’t budge.” I wished this wasn’t the case, but it seems to be increasingly so. In fact, most of the people here believe it is just a normal part of life to get sick or catch something like chicken pox.
How can one possibly teach people that diseases are caused by microorganisms that cannot be seen when the people believe such diseases are caused by spirits and ghosts which they say they have seen?
One might expect even the Christians to understand something of health and hygiene, but that’s not entirely the case either. This is not to say that sickness isn’t a real occurrence and very difficult if not impossible to avoid; but the point is it doesn’t have to be if proper hygiene was a regular practice. So, I thought to myself, what am I to do about it?
I know! I’ll fight the potential for sickness like a sickness. I’ll start small and undetectable, steadily disseminating my methods until all are infected!
Thus, I began implementing the fist-bump in all my classes to diminish the transfer of germs while maintaining meaningful methods of affirmation for my students. Then I recommended to the rest of the staff that they encourage their students to utilize the chicken wing method for catching coughs. Now the students are really catching on. They can’t get enough of the fist-bump, and I even have some of them telling me at random of times “teacher! Wash your hands!”
It’s good to see the school is getting along with the whole hygiene idea, though there is still some ways to go, and that’s also not to say that no one (including myself) has gotten sick since these new methods were initiated either, but overall I’d say the season of sickness is coming to a close.