Frank van Raaij

Former Medical Officer in Charge of Masanga Hospital
Trainer in the STP for Obstetrics and Gynaecology

When did you stay at Masanga?
From July 2008 till July 2010 as Medical Officer in Charge
November 2011, 2012 and 2013 as STP trainer

What was your motivation for going to Masanga?
I was inspired by Dr. Jorgensen’s work and decided to join him in rebuilding a hospital in one of the poorest countries in the world. I always wanted to work in a developing country for a few years so I had a 2,5 year training after medical school for this purpose. Masanga seemed to be an ideal place to put my acquired skills to work.

What was your first meeting with Masanga like?
My first meeting with Masanga was amazing. We arrived there on the second birthday of the project and we were received with song and dance.  Dr Peter sort of presented me as a birthday gift to the hospital: their first resident doctor. Try to find a reception like that in your new job in Europe!

What was your main duties while at the hospital?
As Medical Officer in Charge I was doing a lot of project management at first. Together with my girlfriend Carolien, who was then working as a nurse, and my colleagues Dr. Wendelien and her husband Dr Bart we made a lot of changes in the ward work, administration and trained the personel to manage more complex medical cases.
In my two years there we managed to setup a supply line of quality medicines, train anaesthesia and operation personel to perform Caesarean sections and other major surgical procedures, start a blood bank, X-ray and get running water for the theatre and laundry room.
As STP trainer I trained 5 of our first student in obstetric and surgical theory and skills.

What have you learned from this experience?
I learned that nothing is easy in Sierra Leone. But if you persevere and motivate those around you, you can accomplish great things for this coutry.

What is your advice to others that are thinking about going to Sierra Leone and Masanga?
Prepare your journey well. Especially when you come for a short trip you cannot assume that you can arrange things when you are already there.
Come with an open mind and adapt to the local situation, rather then forcing you ways upon them
Prepare to be overwhelmed by the enthousiasm of the students and the warmth of the local people, they will win your heart!