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STORIES

The Clinic

Ibu, a translator who worked in the clinic. He translated from Wolof, the native language, to french. 

 

He would translate from Wolof, the native language, to French for Katerina. Katerina, the doctor who came with us on the trip, would then translate from French to english. I wrote down notes in english on each patient who came in. 

This four year old boy was child treated for a staph infection. A bacterial infection which my have been caused by the poor water quality.

 

People of all different ages had fungal infections and staph infections because of the water.

The roof of the clinic. There were no lights or electricity until we installed a solar panel. In Clinics like these all across Senegal doctors deliver babies by candle light. 

The supplies we got were limited. The pain we allieviated was limited as well.

A young woman carries her twin babies proudly. Having twins is seen as a blessing. 

The oldest person in the village. An 82 year-old woman named Fatma Sall. 

I worked in the clinic for four days. The clinic was hot and musty and full of different languages, french, wolof, english and occasionally swedish when Katerina, the doctor who came with us on the trip, forgot to translate into english.  I took notes on all the patients that came in. I saw many things that made me wince. Instead of seeing the children's faces and having them ask me what my name was like at the playground, I saw people who were sick and in pain. 

 

The people who came into the clinic were usually village elders and children. The common cold was going through the village and many of the children had a cold, but some had fevers and came to us. A lot of people also had infections, both children and adults. Adults generally had fungal infections and kids generally had staph infections.  

 

Women and men alike were weary and tired, their joints hurt without relief. They came to the clinic seeking pain relievers. We only had a limited supply. Enough to last them maybe 3 months, the relief we offered was short lived, we knew the pain would come back. The other medical clinic they went to was far away. There was no other doctor or nurse available if anything happened. No one to take the pain away. 

 

One day my friend was talking about her family member with a hole in her foot. I hadn’t taken her seriously until the women actually came to see Katerina. The women had a vast puncture wound because a brick had been dropped on her foot. The wound was becoming infected because she wasn’t able to take care of it. She didn’t have access to medical supplies.  

 

 

The clinic wasn’t sad. It was also filled with laughter. People were grateful for our help. We gave each patient sunglasses and I always took a picture. I have hundreds of pictures of smiling people who have on shiny new sunglasses. It was probably the most rewarding experience of my life. Katerina made sure she got to learn about each patient that came into the clinic. Katerina like to listen to everybody’s life story. For example I learned a women sold sells vegetables in Dakar. She would leave the village at 4 am and come back late in the afternoon. The next day she would pick vegetables. She goes through that cycle again and again. Another man lives in Italy and had been working in machinery in Florence Italy  for 20 years. Because he was so prosperous he has three wives, men usually have two. I learned so much about the culture. I definitely understood the culture more, and I saw multiple facets of people. I am so glad I got to work in the clinic. 

My Family 

Adji

Adji

Mamadou

Mamadou

Alasan

Alasan

Doudou

Doudou

Oumy

Oumy

Awa

Awa

Bebe Biram

Bebe Biram

Baen

Baen

My Yaay (My mom)

My Yaay (My mom)

My Baay (My Father)

My Baay (My Father)

Anta

Anta

I have no idea what I’m doing and my family clearly knows that, I can hear their snickers, but I keep on dancing. I move my arms and my hips on no beat and my older sister shakes her head. I drag her up in front of the family and she playfully glares at me. We dance together until she is too embarrassed to go on. Everybody is laughing at me. But I love it. I love being able to make my family laugh after a long day of work. Even if they were laughing at me. I knew they still loved me, after all I am Adji Ndoye.

 

I was amazed by how deeply caring my family was, how easily they accepted me, a stranger. How quickly I felt at home. In Senegal I was home. When I lay back on the black yellow and green mat looking up at the branches of the tree I was happy. I wasn’t thinking about my past or my future. I was thinking about then and there. I was listening to the  sounds of my family speak Wolof. I was tired from all the work I had done in the morning. I was doing physical work on the play structure and I was bone tired. I had welded and cut metal with a saw without it’s safety on. I drilled through tires and bolted them together to create a tire wall. When I was worked with the power tools the men looked at me strangely. When I was doing something as simple as digging I was asked if I needed any help. Even though I was trained and skilled I was a women and that came first, in their minds I wasn’t supposed to be working. Which bothered me. Did I look like a damsel in distress did I look like I needed help? But then it sunk in. I wasn’t supposed to be working. I was supposed to be in the kitchen, or possibly married with kids. I was supposed to be helping my mom, or if I was lucky enough I was supposed to be in school. I was a girl, and in the muslim country my two x chromosomes were not valued.

 

Despite the gender norms I was subject to, I was exhausted, it was hot outside and my stomach growled as I waited for the Jebbujen, the rice and fish that we ate every day at lunch. When I sat up anticipating the delicious food my brother smiled at me and started to make faces while we both waited. I laughed, even though we didn’t speak the same language we could still communicate.

 

A quote by Maya Angelou explains my family, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” I had found a safe place. And Now I ache for my home. But the home I ache for now is not in San francisco it is 6407.1 miles away. I am not questioned for not understanding their language, I am not questioned about anything. I am just accepted as me.

 

All in all Senegal was a different world. In the US more than half of the people in college are women while in senegal few went to school. In America people bought things they didn’t need just because. The new iPhone, a new computer. There isn’t really a sense of community. In senegal people bought things they didn’t need as well, a phone or a watch or perfume, but family always came first no matter what. There was a community. A community that could only thrive with the help of the individuals. I can not be thankful enough to be admitted to that community. I am forever part of their family. And a certain alien once said something very important about family, “family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”

 

“The ache for home lives in all of us,

the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

-Maya Angelou 

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