While in the field I kept a blog, titled Sai Hankuri: Fieldnotes From Niger. Among other topics, in it, I wrote about an hour in an emergency maternity hospital, cultural conceptions of acceptable risk and my own struggle to find that line, men’s role in the African narrative, shame, or the media’s often misleading portrayal of women with fistula. The blog was a form of public fieldnotes. Some days, I wrote almost verbatim excerpts from my pocket notebook, other days I used the site as an emotional release valve, finding comfort through the act of processing an experience. Further along in my research, I used the space to analyze my data – my first attempt to translate what I was experiencing on the ground into a theory.
Sai hankuri means ‘have patience,’ a exhortation, invocation, and code to live by that proved particularly salient (and challenging!) both to the women I came to know in Niger and for me personally throughout my time in the field and beyond.