Peace Care Blog

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“And So It Begins”

Date:  October 22, 2013,
Author:  Chip Ko, Peace Corps Volunteer
Photo:  Preparing the logistics for screenings

I can’t believe that it starts tomorrow. After months of anticipation and planning, we are finally starting the prevalence study of cervical cancer in the region of Kedougou, Senegal. And if I’ve learned one thing while being a Peace Corps volunteer here in Senegal, it’s that things don’t usually come together until last minute. For that fact, and also with one of Senegal’s most celebrated holidays, Tabaski, having just passed, it was only expected that we would be planning logistics up to the last minute…
This morning we split up into three teams according to where we would be helping out with the prevalence study. Cari went with fellow Peace Corps volunteer, Katie, to the district of Salemata where they will be travelling to various villages in that district to start the study. Andrew, Michael, Pat and Anne all stayed in Saraya where they will be able to help with the study in the Saraya district. Meanwhile, Paul, Chris, and I came back to the regional capital of Kedougou to work on the prevalence study in this district.
Once the three of us arrived in Kedougou, I knew that I had to get in touch with the midwife and doctor we are working on the study with. Working closely with Senegalese officials is important for making projects sustainable, and also because they are the ones who know the ropes and can get stuff done. Of course with my luck, Dr. Kabou was busy in a workshop and Aissatou, the midwife, had not yet returned to Kedougou from the holiday. Time was ticking and I knew we were scheduled to start the prevalence study the next day, yet I had no idea if everything was in place for us to begin on time. At that point I did what every great Peace Corps volunteer does in times of stress. I ate lunch and took a short nap. When I woke up from my refreshing 30 minute snoozer, it seemed as if everything magically fell into place. Aissatou had finally returned and was ready to meet with us to plan the next five days! The three of us took a short taxi ride to the hospital where we met with both Aissatou and Dr. Kabou, and after a little over two hours of contacting other midwives and nurses, we had our final schedule in place.
Now, sitting here and reading over our busy schedule, I have a good feeling that everything is going to work out. That worried feeling I had only a few hours ago, although still present, doesn’t feel as bad. We will be visiting a total of eight villages and screening over 150 women, but seeing how motivated both Aissatou and Dr. Kabou were tonight in helping organize the outings was very inspiring. And I was reminded once again that even though it might be last minute, things always come together with a little motivation and a good nap.

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