Friday, January 31, 2014

Good-bye Cameroon...

Well, we have successfully finished two weeks of training in Cameroon!


Our week in Kumba (this was the second PINCC visit), resulted in certification of three practitioners, each from a different clinic. So, there are now three clinics in western Cameroon certified to do VIA: one in Doula and two in Kumba! In addition, the two clinics in Kumba are certified to do cryo, and one gynecologist at the large district hospital certified to do VIA, cryo, and LEEP... All due to the stunning persistence of Stella (the nurse who heads the Kumba clinic and invited us all), and the wonderful work of PINCC... It is gratifying and inspiring to be part of this work!

On the last night we heard the story of part of what motivated Stella. A few years ago, within 6-12 months, three nurses in the Kumba area died of cervical cancer; one was 38, one was 40, and one was 44 years old. A couple of years prior, a young HIV+ nurse had died of untreated cervical cancer. All of these young women healers dying was just too much to bear for Stella without trying to do something.

She contacted local hospitals, government officials, anyone she could think of who might help her get screening started. She found and completed on-line training that was available. She found PINCC on-line and wrote and wrote asking them to come to Cameroon, "and the rest is history".

Yesterday as we all said goodbye at the clinic there were many shining eyes... For our part we were mostly overcome with deep admiration for the local providers... I hope one of my team-mates will try to write about this admiration, as I feel completely unable to do it justice. But I will try with my life to honor them. I hug the memories close...

Beautiful women,
Committed, strong, smart women,
Brilliant smiles flash.

Travel Day:

This morning we left Kumba at 5am to drive to Doula. It was a morning filled with adventure. We stopped twice on the way to Doula, once for one of us to vomit on the roadside (I was particularly empathetic since this had been me just a few days prior), and once we stopped because the van had overheated. This time, when we were all unloaded, we saw steam billowing out all of the windows like a scene from a movie! But our driver Mr Azzis (sp?) refilled the radiator and all went well from there. The only other noteworthy event after that (by African standards) was a slightly lengthy stop to wait for a large herd of long horned cattle to cross a busy city intersection.

Having seen Carole, Ginger, and Dianna off at the airport (we hope they are safely in the air to Kenya now), the next adventure began... The plan was for we three remaining to be dropped at our hotel. After a while wandering the city it became clear that our fabulous Kumba driver had no idea how to get to our hotel, and wasn't having any success on the phone getting help with directions from the hotel clerk. After 20-30 minutes and two stops to ask directions, we realized we were approaching the airport again. It turns out his plan was to hire a motorcycle taxi to guide us to the hotel. Cooler heads prevailed, we made phone contact with the hotel's airport shuttmetrics happened to be arriving at the airport just at that time, met the shuttle and made the transfer, and are now cozily ensconced in our daytime hangout until we leave tonight to catch our 11:55pm flight. In hindsight, it was as if we had asked a taxi driver from San Luis Obispo to drop us off somewhere in SF! Ah well, poolside is a great place to develop equanimity. ;->

Peace and Blessings--

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fwd: Photo 2

Fwd: Pincc gang

I am so proud of our group  today.  The work we began yesterday started gelling, and you could hear the learning happening.
We saw 40+ patients (4 docs proctoring, Ginger floating and everywhere at once, Carole as our fearless Leader, and Rebecca as our one-woman support team!), an abnormal lesion was found and cryo was performed, and the student Gynecologue demonstrated and taught the LEEP procedure (on some meat in an upended plastic cup).  The Chaplain is counseling interested women who admit to a history of DV/rape.
In my room so far, I am very impressed with my students. My one returning student has kept a good ledger and I am optimistic she will be certified this trip.  All three students are excellent clinicians.  Today we had several good clear SCJ's and two good Lugol's exams that gave us essential additional information.  On the suggestion of one of the other proctors, a couple of the students practiced drawing SCJ's from the pictures on the flashcards; the improvement was visible within 20 minutes!
And most of this is taking place in French!  Thanks the heavens that Ginger's French is fluent, and the rest of us are managing to get our ideas across just fine. In my case I am thankful for the miracle!
Tonight we returned to our Baptist Rest House tired but happy, to the usual gourmet repast: rice, vegetable, chicken and papaya for dessert.  Our cook, named Blessing (!), is a miracle of loving generosity who has already given me two great big hugs, and of whom we have already all grown very fond!
I can hear the cicadas and frogs in concert warming up outside... (the frogs sound HUGE! but they are probably tiny...)
Time to head to bed. Tomorrow is another day...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Cameroon greetings!

The PINCC crew arrived safely in Cameroon without much fanfare. We spent a day-or too -getting over jet lag and today had our first day of work at the Bethesda Mission Hospital.
the Hospital is a lovely little Oasis with well attended grounds and gracious staff.
Joseph, nurse anesthetist, and hospital administrator extraordinaire, had everything ready for us as he had a promised. The rooms had been emptied out and mainly set up, the patients were waiting for us and 12 trainees came ready to learn. Approximately 1/2 of the trainees were returning trainees. Two of them had travelled 2 days from the north of Cameroon to be with us.
truthfully , I think they were a bit disappointed that we were mainly a new crew. They send salutations to all the members from the last PINCC trip.

We got to work promptly at 8:00 and then Ginger Ruddy, our fearless French speaking medical director gave a lecture in perfect French and the rest of the volunteers got by with our rudimentary language skills. We saw about 25 pts the first day and nothing terrible or even bad happened. We were thrilled and the trainees seemed pleased too.

Eve Yalom. Ob Gyn

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