Angel Desai, UIC 4th year Medical Student
Kor tanante! Another day in Senegal is coming to a close and I am amazed at how much has been accomplished already! This morning after a delicious breakfast of bread and a nutella-like choco spread we headed from Kedougou to Saraya. Traveling in style as always, the Peace Care team piled into a “sept places,” which is essentially a station wagon meant for seven people, although with our ingenuity we managed to fit eight comfortably! Travel in Senegal would not be complete without a hiccup or two along the way and on our way to Saraya the car began to shake as it slowly screeched to a stop-the cause? Flat tire of course! Our diligent driver was able to change out the flat with a spare in no time and we were back on the road. Along the way we passed the time with some great discussions about international development and health, as well as ants, awkwardness, and more Malinke phrases.
After settling into Saraya, Annie and the other PCVs gave us a great tour of Saraya and we were introduced to many residents living here. Along the way we were given the great honor of being introduced to the village chief who, in turn, gave our team Senegalese names. My name, Maryama, has already been adopted by the hospital staff and I find myself more easily responding to it with each time it is used. One thing that constantly surprises me is the open and friendly nature of the Senegalese people we have come into contact with. As we walked down the street in Saraya, many of the families sitting outside came out to greet us. Long pleasantries are always exchanged as well as handshakes from each person we are introduced to.
After introductions, the real work began with a training discussion with the sages femmes (midwives) about methods that have worked and problems they have encountered in the process of carrying out cervical cancer screenings and training. Charles and Gaby facilitated the discussion, which ended up being both productive and very entertaining! We rounded out the day with a great meal at the hospital that is typically served in a communal style with all of us seated around a large bowl of rice with meat, vegetables, and spices. The strong sense of community here continues to make me feel welcome here. Looking forward to the days to come!