Monday April 17, my first day in The Gambia, I get a tour of the Lamin Health Center. It is very quiet in the clinic because it is Easter Monday. Then I get a guided tour from Lamin, the village where the LHC is located, from Beredien and Hilde (2 nursing students who have been doing an internship here for 2 months). We first go to Mama Aisha to score a Gambian name. (Just like Daniel in the time of the Bible, I (like the other Dutch people here) get a new (Gambian) name. Dutch names often have a different meaning in Mandinka and are moreover difficult to pronounce.) run from Mama Aisha's compound, I am caught off guard by a swarm of super cute dark kids saying 'TUBAAAB!' scream (= white person) and jump into my arms. Before I know it my bottle of water has been snatched from my hands and 8 children are fighting over a few gulps of water. After I hear that from now on I will go through life as 'Mai Muna', we then walk to 'the boys', the group of friends in the village. I am received with open arms, everyone is warm and super hospitable. Bad & famous makes Ataya (a kind of cooked green tea with too much sugar). Three glasses later (read: 4 pm) it is time to go back to the LHC, because the food is ready around 7 pm. Lissa (Gambian woman who cooks for us) made some kind of lasagna. in the evening take it easy, hang posters and cards from my home on my wall, so that it becomes more of my own room.
Tuesday is also a quiet day. Having breakfast on the balcony, unpacking my second suitcase, tidying up my room (yes, after 1 day already chaos) and Skype with the home front.
Get used to the tropical temperatures, quietly acclimatize. In the afternoon again seen more of the area and to the 'football field' to kick a ball with Berendien and Ossman. In the evening to bed on time, to be fit for my first internship the next day!
It is an early day on Wednesday. My alarm goes off at 7 a.m. and then I start my internship at 8 a.m. I attend the consultation hour of the (Dutch) doctor. Very interesting, seen many patients and some physical examinations. In the afternoon I go with the other interns in a packed local van to the Serrekunda Market, the largest market in The Gambia. Very busy, a lot of noise, super warm, but really great to see! Buy credit for my Gambian SIM card and exchange money. One hundred euros is 5000 Dalasi, so with such a large pile of bills I feel quite rich.
After I wake up at 11 am, I start my internship in the consulting room at 12 noon on Thursday. When the patients enter the LHC, they first go to the reception, where they receive a 'patient file'. Then they take a seat on the couch and come one by one to the consulting room, where vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, saturation, temperature and BMI) are measured. Then they take a seat on the sofa and are called one by one to the doctor's office. If necessary, the doctor will prescribe or send medication to the lab, where malaria testing, HB measurement, urine testing or an ECG can be performed. Patients can also be admitted. In addition, there is a dressing room where wounds are treated and the farmacy room, which is full of medication. After internship we go to our Gambian friends, where we have a nice evening.
Friday is very quiet in the clinic, because Friday is a kind of Sunday for the Muslims. I was in the consulting room again, but unfortunately only 2 patients came for a consultation between 08:00 and 12:00. This gave me the opportunity to learn a few Mandinka words from my colleague Haddy. When I lie down on my bed in the afternoon, it is suddenly 3 hours later when I open my eyes again. Surely all those new impressions! In the afternoon at 5 pm we go to the football match in the village, very nice to see. Respect for the players who can be so fanatical in the blazing sun!
What a wonderful day Saturday is! We slept in the morning until 11 am, have breakfast on the balcony, then go to the beach with Machteld, Beredien and Hilde! With these tropical temperatures combined with a cool sea breeze, it is wonderful to swim in the sea, sunbathe and play an afternoon of beach volleyball!
And then it is already Sunday again. Exactly a week since I started this adventure! Although it takes a lot of getting used to, a different culture, language, food, habits, people, way of working, etc. I start to feel more and more at home. I am curious what I will experience next week! I'll keep you up to date ?