Notes from a conference

  • The point of this five day animation is to amend a health book for adolescents put out by UNICEF and UNFPA called Grandier en Harmonie. The book is targeted to Africa as a whole; our job is to make it Mauritania specific.

I attended day 4 of the 5 day conference yesterday. It was held in Hassaniya and French. Apparently when Ashley and Dave had gone the previous days, the members of the committee were split up into small groups to discuss the context of each chapter. Day 4 found all members of the committee sitting at a conference table with the book projected on the wall via electronic media.

First up we discussed a picture of a pregnant woman that was printed in the chapter En pourtant je pouvais eviter la grossesse (how to avoid unwanted pregnancy). The main issue was whether the image should be published or not, and if so, should it be published in some versions and not others. There are three versions of the text to be distributed: French, Arabic, and Digitally. Some arguments against including the pregnant woman in the book were that figures are not usually portrayed in Islam; the woman had a sad expression on her face, and muslims do not see pregnancy as something sad or negative.

Once we moved on from this debate (which lasted over an hour) we moved onto the page on contraception. The main concern was whether the layout was clear enough to facilitate a lesson? One man  thought that because this chapter was extremely important, there should be a main conclusion at the end of each mini section/activity to make everything extra clear and coherent. Life skills was brought up at this point, as was child spacing. In Mauritania, as I’m sure with many impoverished African countries, child spacing, aka, the amount of time between when a mother is pregnant, and then pregnant again, is a big issue and problem. Often that gap is much too small and many women have, say, 4 or 5 children in a row. Literally one right after the other.

There was another image of a man and a woman that was discusssed in length. The proponents of including the image argued that it would be successful in shocking the readers. However others thought that the image was religiously insensitive and that shocking the readers was inappropriate and unneccessary.

Lately, I’ve  been feeling the most homesick I’ve felt since I’ve been here. It is getting a little cooler though, which feels amazing at night. I can’t even tell you the joys of being able to sleep with a sheet over me again.

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3 Responses to “Notes from a conference”

  1. americaninparis42 Says:

    Salut…oui, je comprends ta situation avec les langues…je sais que nous allons apprendre le français, mais nous ne pouvons pas apprendre passivement. Quand nous pouvons parler couramment français on sera une grande réussite. So yeah, bottom line is that it totally sucks that everyday we have to work really hard to understand everything said around us, but it will get better and not because we sat back and magically learned the language, it will be an accomplishment that we can actually be proud of once we get to that point. But thanks for letting me know I’m not alone in my frustration.

    For your work, have you started teaching the girls yet or has it just been setting up the program at this point? I find all of this fascinating, so make sure to update as your job progresses. And now I insert my shameless plug that if you want to come to Paris you have a place to crash. J’espére que tu es très fier de toi, parce que je suis fier de toi ! Bisous !

  2. Desiree Says:

    Hey that sounds really interesting, having to adapt information to fit a culture/religion. Were the people discussing this all PC peeps or were there some locals in on it to give their take?

    I miss you girl!

  3. Dwight Says:

    It’s interesting how these small nuances can reflect a certain culture, and then not at all.

    It’s funny how sleeping with a net has become a part of life, and bugs, whereas here that’s just not our reality :). You’re adapting so well.

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