Jonah and Ryan will be heading into their senior years at GC this fall. We are both studying biochemistry and plan to go to medical school. For service we are working at a regional health clinic to gain medical experience.
Poste de Sante Keru Yiiw/Jeunesse en Mission
The clinic is located not far from Thiès, near the village of Gorom. The clinic is part of a rural intentional living community. It is run by the missionary group Youth With a Mission or Jeunesse en Mission, in French. The community is surrounded by concrete borders that house the health clinic but also a soccer field, garden, dorms, small living huts, a health clinic, and lots of cashew trees. Currently, this Christian mission has eleven missionaries from seven different African countries: Mali, Togo, Burkina Faso, DRC, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, and of course Senegal. In previous years there have been missionaries from European countries or America, but we are currently the only individuals who are not from the continent of Africa.
We spend the majority of our time working in the Poste de Sante Keru Yiiw. This clinic is the primary medical care option for people of the surrounding villages. The Poste de Sante has a close relationship with Japanese consulate. Through this relationship, they have received a substantial amount of grant money over the years. Consequently, the clinic is able to provide high quality health care for expecting mothers and young children, but also for others as well. We have had the opportunity to work in many of the different specialties offered by the clinic.
Jonah mostly works in the small pharmacy run by clinic. This typically involves giving one to three basic medications. The medications help with a range of afflictions such as pain, fever, high blood pressure, and even parasitic infections such as ringworm. Speaking primarily in Wolof, Jonah informs patients how often and how much medication they should be taking. He also guides people to appropriate locations within the clinic and ensure that they’ve paid for their visits. When the clinic does not have a prescription, Jonah directs patients to pharmacies in the surrounding villages that will have the remaining medications that they need.
The clinic also has a dentist’s office. Jonah also assists the dentist and his assistant with daily operations. He helps to keep a written list of patients and their basic health information, takes blood pressures of incoming patients, and assists with dental procedures by providing and cleaning the necessary equipment.
Ryan’s work has had a little more variety. He takes the height, weight, and temperature of kids in pediatrics to assess their well-being and level of nutrition. He also has opportunities to practice massage therapy techniques like ultrasound, electrostimulation, and Eastern-influenced herbal treatments. Ryan scribes patient diagnoses and prescriptions as well as helping Jonah out in the pharmacy.
We have enjoyed the opportunity to work in these different areas. It has given us a good scope of Senegalese healthcare and areas of future medical interest. It has been a bit hard to understand when nearly all the visits are conducted in the local Wolof language; however, it has been a great location for gaining medical experience as aspiring physicians, as there are less restrictions on what we can do here as compared to the United States.
When we’re not working at the Poste de Sante, there are many options for us to help out and have fun around the Youth With A Mission complex. We’ve spent many afternoons helping out in the garden, combining sandy soil with compost, planting peppers, corn, onions, and more, as well as watering everything in sight. The community puts a lot of effort into the garden. Inflation has not only hit America but has impacted food prices here in Senegal. Consequently, a garden can be an important way to cut costs. Hopefully before we depart, we can reap what we’ve (literally) sown and incorporate the food into the base’s daily meals! Other non-medical work has included pruning and clearing trees, burning trash and dead plants, and in the future, potentially restoring the entrance sign to the base.
Fruits and Nuts
During our free time, we have enjoyed interacting with the adults and playing with the children. We also enjoy hunting for fruit in the various trees and groves nearby. We’ve eaten a substantial supply of mangoes and limes. We have also discovered some more unusual fruits such as passionfruit, velvet tamarind, and cashew fruit. At one point, we made mango jelly with the harvest. It turns out you don’t even need to add pectin when making it! Couple some mango jelly with homemade peanut butter on a baguette and you will have the makings of a power Senegalese breakfast.
At another point, we tried to consume the raw cashew attached to the fruit. This resulted in us suffering from rashes and inflamed mouths. Apparently, raw cashews contain the same compound found in poison ivy! Consequently, we now only eat cashews that are appropriately roasted. Eating, quite literally, off the land has been fun. It has connected us with nature and has taken us away from the Walmarts of the world—a nice change.
Overall, there are many great opportunities for us here at the YWAM base/Poste de Sante! Our days our scheduled but nonetheless we engage in a broad range of activities and build relationships with a variety of people from various African countries.