Gabriella Baeza, MD, UIC DFM Resident Physician
October 12, 2012
Bonjour! Nature runs wild en route to the village of Bandola. Though the village is ~90 Kms from Saraya, it is a 3 to 4 hr drive . The red earthen roads are studded with pits and puddles that cause trucks to topple into and out of deep potholes. This makes me think of Chicago roads in the winter. Except these pot holes are wider. And deeper. Also, it’s not winter here, it’s rainy season. 80 degrees. Tall grass and ferns 7 ft tall fill the fields that surround us . It’s exhilarating to think of the wildlife beyond the road.
As I sit in the back seat of the transport truck with Charles and LaRocha, Fatou, our sage femme (midwife) sits in the front with the driver. Fatou tells us of the lions that take their water from the river alongside the road in the early morning hours. I can’t decide whether to be glad or disappointed that it is late morning and there are no lions in sight. In the trees I catch sight of a monkey hanging from a branch as well as beautiful, colorful birds. I can’t keep my eyes off of the trees alongside the road. I want to see more…
LaRocha tells me about the health concerns in the mining village where we are headed for day 2 of cervical dysplasia (pre-cancer) screening. There is no local Matron (traditional birth attendant) to provide basic medical care, no nurse, no midwife, and of course no doctor. The local language spoken is Malinke so Fatou has the task of explaining and performing the screening while also translating from Malinke to French. We speak to the village chief upon arriving and arrange for women within the target age group to meet us individually in a hut to begin the screening. Other medical concerns arise during the screening and we are fortunate to have Fatou present to prescribe medications as needed.
We take a break to play with the children and eat lunch. It’s so touching to see their eyes aglow. In Saraya, I’ve been given the name “Fanta Diaby” and I meet many local Diaby’s who are super excited to meet their long-lost cousin. I’m honored and blessed.