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I have been in Africa for about a month in a small Senegalese town of Koungheul for an internship experience. I have been offering my service in Missira and Koumbidia’s “San Froçois” medical dispensary during my internship.

Life in the dispensary has had a strong impact on me because of the bare essentials with which we are forced to work and because of the warm and sunny kindness of this people.

ec 01Many women have come to the dispensary to be followed during their pregnancy, while many children have come because of minor or serious infections connected to the precarious conditions.
The dispensary provides consultation and therapy for about 40 to 50 people every day. Generally, the busiest and longest day is Thursday because it is Missira’s market day when many local villagers take advantage of that so they pass by the dispensary.

On Thursdays, visits can be as many as 150 people, of which half are babies under 5 years.
The children that come to the dispensary are full of life and beauty that is manifested as crying, playing, embracing, tenderness and fear, as children do all over the word.

One of the things that I had not anticipated when coming to Africa was that I would scare the children. However, I found that seeing white people, the so-called "Toubab," scares them as much as the needles. 

ec 03So whenever the children come to the clinic, they see not only the local staff, but also this white woman who weighs them, measures them and visits them, well... The bravest remain speechless but they permit me to touch them and visit with them. The most fearful need to have their mothers with them to help them understand that there is no need to fear. Then begins their journey from fear to trust --  an allegory daily, and also a lesson for me on how to handle all the new, unexpected and scary things I find along my path in this African experience.

My work in the dispensary includes a new project that is slowly taking shape: the use of a portable ultrasound device to be used to support the diagnostic activities of the dispensary throughout pregnancy.

ec 04The equipment was purchased in recent months thanks to the generosity of many friends and benefactors. Moreover, during this time in Senegal, I not only will build on my skills, but primarily work to train the local staff on how to use this technology. Great is the gratitude and joy of these people for the arrival of this device and the diagnostic possibilities related to it. Great is the commitment of everyone, staff and patients, to start and operate in the new ultrasound room. Their excitement is a gift from of a new "hope" for a better future.

Sr Cinzia La Calce, SFP

Published: February 10, 2017