9:30 am: I’ve been waiting at my colleague’s house for about thirty minutes while his wife and another staff member make small talk. I stare blankly ahead since my Bambara is non-existent and my small-talk French is often a simple to “c’est bon!”
My shoulder bag is still in the truck. I really have no idea where we’re going for these three days, I only know we’re visiting some community clinics (CSCOMs). As such, I’ve packed a few days’ worth of clothes, but that’s about it.
9:40: A two-hour long debate about the recent mid-east political situation ensues. I wasn’t expecting that on our drive, but its always refreshing to hear others’ take on events – and a good opportunity to sharpen my French on the flintstone of political discourse.
11:30: We arrive in Markacoungo, still arguing as we disembark from the truck and as we are greeted by the CSCOM staff.
I look around, the clinic is in a relatively unpopulated area in a desert environment. En fait, much of Mali is a desert environment, but without the structures and urban distractions, you can almost SEE the heat.
And it is hot. The rainy season starts soon in Mali, but before any proverbial quenching of thirsts, the climes only get hotter and hotter. As we stand there, it’s about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but the high will reach about 105 degrees F. I quickly look around for places to buy water and don’t see any potential opportunities. I only brought one bottle. Mild foreshadow.
11:35: A quick tour of the CSCOM. It comprises a fairly large piece of walled-off property, but mainly two buildings – one to treat patients and one for administration and some surgeries. The two doctors here are amazing. By the end of the day, they’ve seen 60 patients and have performed twelve surgeries, all with very little resources.
12:00 pm: We travel to another CSCOM. My colleagues and I are able to ask the employees some important questions about pre-natal health. We needed to ensure some hypotheses for our study. One of my colleagues insists I draw some water from the CSCOM well for a photo opportunity, I oblige, but he seems to get more out of it than I do.
7:30: The lone TV at the CSCOM is pulled outside on a cart and about 13 men gather around to watch the latest soccer game. Before the game can start however, we all watch a dubbed Indian soap opera. Makes sense.
8:30: Not long into the game, my colleague stands up and says he’ll back in a while, and that he’s going to go join an ongoing surgery. Confused, I don’t get many words out.
9:30: Thinking that we’re not going to eat since it’s already 9:30, I’ve downed a serious amount of peanuts that I brought along with me. My co-worker then tells me we’re going to have dinner. My American ways and my early dinner tendencies have bested me.
10:30: I collapse under my mosquito net with mild heat exhaustion and a sock tied around my head to absorb persistent perspiration.