Entry Date: 2/4/2012
Author: PCV LaRocha LaRiviere (ou bien Adama Souaré)
Today we woke up, greeted the family hosting us, and unsuccessfully looked for bananas on our way over to breakfast at the Saraya hospital’s housing area. We had an oatmeal can filled with village-style peanut butter, a plastic sack of hard boiled eggs, and a big pile of fresh loaves of tapalapa, the handmade village bread. The water was on, so I sipped my instant coffee and filled our water barrels and watched a big class of kids doing their stretching on the basketball courts. The water went out after a little while, and the doctors headed over to the hospital for rounds. A couple of the Peace Corps Volunteers worked on translating and editing the team’s PowerPoint presentations, and there were a series of meetings were we mostly talked about meeting we’ve had and arranging for more meetings in the future.
Of course, it wouldn’t have been a day in Senegal without a massive schedule disruption. Unfortunately, last night there were two serious accidents involving multiple fatalities on the Kédougou road, and all senior members of the Kédougou medical staff were working on that past six in the morning. Obviously, getting on an early morning car to come to Saraya for a day of training and discussion was not going to happen after that. We did our best to salvage the day’s productivity, so we strolled over to the new Saraya hospital to ogle all the shiny fancy new things that JICA (Japan’s international development agency) has built and brought to Saraya. There were so many pristine rooms and pieces of equipment – a maternity ward with state-of-the-art birthing tables and little infant beds with sunlamps for jaundiced babies; a pristine specimen collection room, with the little wall-portal for passing cups back and forth; an operating room with brand new basins, lamps, and tables, capable of accommodating Cesarean sections and other surgeries; fancy facility maps with little red arrows declaring that VOUS ETES ICI. Sadly, the hospital won’t be able to begin seeing patients until the Senegalese Government finishes their contribution to the project, specifically building living quarters for staff, a morgue building, a driveway, and a low wall around the whole complex. It looks like construction’s starting on the wall, or a trench has been partially dug, but it may be awhile before the lovely new hospital is open for business.
After the tour wrapped up the group braved the mid-day sun and walked back down the (amazing, smooth, lovely, evenly paved) road to the current Saraya hospital. While we sat around waiting for lunch to be served Amish taught us all the “Zoo” game, which basically involves a lot of clapping and snorting and making funny animal gestures. Lunch was yassa sauce, made with diced onions, little bits of carrot, and small chunks of meat (beef? or maybe mutton?), over steamed rice. It was pretty good, but my favorite part, was the amazing selection of delicious juices. There was sweet, dark red bissap (like hibiscus) juice, thick, creamy baobab juice, light, spicy ginger juice, bissap with fresh mint, bissap mixed with baobab, and Foster Clark’s Orange, which is basically really strong Tang.
After all the juice and yassa I fell asleep for a bit, sitting up in the afternoon heat, and then spent the rest of the afternoon translating stuff from English to French. My netbook’s battery was running low, so I went inside the hospital’s living quarters to plug in, and people were watching a TV show about people with extreme gigantism and that disorder that makes children age horrifically rapidly. It was surreal but entertaining background noise, and I wrapped up my form translation just in time to watch Dr. Isaak Manga give a PowerPoint presentation on malaria in Senegal.
After the malaria talk Dr. Nate gave a presentation on EKGs and the electrical goings-on of the heart. A lot of the jargon-heavy parts were alphabet soup to me, but it was neat to have a heartbeat explained in detail. After the EKG talk we headed over to dinner, which was lovely. They made the best thing, which is meat and fries and salad with dressing and tomatoes, and also more juice. After dinner we set up the projector and had a little outdoor screening of Babies, which went over really well. We’d set up plastic chairs for all the hospital staff, but when it was over and the lights came up we realized that during the movie a decent sized crowd had gathered to look on. Everybody loves babies!