Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Bein' Bugged

Four days later and you’re thinking “Well…. WELL??”

Bug bites.
The official verdict, after much hmmming and generally looking at a total loss, is bed bugs. Not Bed Bugs, aka blood-sucking, egg-laying mites, but some other sort of vermin in the kids’ mattresses. I’ve taken a look at the mattresses and box springs. Nothing is obviously visible, but that doesn’t mean anything. So now we wait. Either the mattresses will get a heavy fumigating all their own or we’ll get new ones. Rumor has it there are two new twin mattresses coming our way, but we haven’t seen anything come of that. And no sign of fumigators either. In case you think we’re lax parents letting the kids sleep on their beds anyway… they’ve been camping out in their sleeping bags on the living room floor. A fun thing for the first two nights. Now that we’ve had day three and looking at day four unless someone comes today, suddenly it’s not so much fun anymore. The mosquito nets and frames are being put up as I type so once we can keep the crawly no-see-ums off the kids, they’ll be guarded from the flying no-see-ums too. Until then, they stay on the floor. The huge ants that come into our house thankfully die soon after making their way in. Gross for cleaning up purposes, but little chance of them making it to where the kids are too.
But they’re all getting better. With bacitracin on the spots and a Hibiclens soak in the tub, the spots are fading without new appearances, so all is good there.
Yesterday, I was at the school library. The elementary section is up and running, now I’m on to the older kids section. The one with the most recent encyclopedia set dating 1994, and the half dozen other sets happily living out the 1980s and yes, the 1970s. The atlases go back as far as 1964.
Sure, in this day and age most information can be found via the WWW. Some wonder about the value of paper encyclopedias at all anymore. Listen. We’re in Togo, the land of flickering electricity, doubtful internet connectivity and a school with one truly functioning computer (in the Principal’s office). The computer lab has 6 stations, one without a working monitor, two without functioning hard drives, and all more useful as virus breeders than work stations with their pirated software and passed around disks.
So I asked the woman who’s been handling the library around her ESL teaching, how often are the encyclopedias cracked open anway? The middle schoolers do every once in a while. High school, never. Don’t these kids do research? Write papers? The sad truth, most of the kids in the school don’t know how a library actually functions or what its purpose is. I’m determined to set it straight, and that will most likely include scrapping most of the reference materials in there.
There has been some progress. Ian is looking into what can be purchased to bring the school computers up to a decent functioning level. He’s also asked the Principal to cancel their web/computer “tech” guy and will volunteer his time for the next two years. Actually, once the computers are working, I’ll see what I can do about building the school’s website. I’d like to provide something that can be easily updated by someone on the premises.
In the library, I’m checking out 2005 or even 2004 encyclopedia sets. Notices will go up in the library to keep the windows and door shut, that the A/C can be on while kids are having class in there and on Fridays I will be in the library to teach the kids how it works when they take out books. It’s all pretty basic, right? It’s all an uphill battle.
Tonight, Dr. Carney from the Office of Overseas Schools arrives in Lomé, for a weekend of meetings and school visits. As a board member, Ian is at AISL this morning for last minute preparations.
Me, I’m at home with mosquito net guys and distiller fixing guy, waiting for GSO warehouse storage guys (they’re using our extra buildings for Embassy furniture storage… don’t ask), waiting for mattress delivery guys (wishing, waiting, hoping) and fighting off my second UTI in 9 days. Which is quite a problem without a working distiller. I can boil water as easily as the next person. It’ll kill the bugs and germs, but the tap water so close to the beach is salty… ew. That’s not encouraging for the 2+ liters I should be drinking.

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