Maria Dunkl

When did you stay at Masanga?

What was your motivation for going to Masanga?
Despite my interest in other cultures and foreign countries I have never been outside Europe before, mainly because I don´t like to go go somewhere as a tourist. The poject in Masanga seemed to me very useful and sustainable, so I wanted to contribute.

What was your first meeting with Masanga like?
I had a positive impression when I came first to Masanga. They took really good care of us. I did not expect so much space or even a room just for me alone.

What was your main duties while at the hospital?
My main duty was to teach the students in the surgical training programme and to prepare theoretical lessons of anatomy, physiology, pathology,… in patterns of good didactics and in a clinically relevant form. I also helped in the hospital, contributing help at wardrounds as there was a need for, but my main focus was at the teaching.

What have you learned from this experience?
That Sierra Leone is a beautiful country with very friendly people and that even the most cruel war cannot destroy humanity. It is worth to give the country a chance to show its best side. And that on the other hand Europeans abroad have some ethical duties and should always work hard on themselves to show their best side, to work equally together, stand by the people and deconstruct post-colonial hierarchies in the minds. It is too easy for Europeans to not stay down to earth and getting a detached life style because of the enormous economic differences. It is not fair spending the amount of money equally to someone’s monthly salary for one dinner. And it is not easy to not have a little luxury you can afford just because others cannot have. This is a conflict which can build barriers between the people, and everyone has to deal with this in his or her own way. I learned that for me it was easier to go without and improve `sistahood` as far as possible.

What is your advice to others that are thinking about going to Sierra Leone and Masanga?
Just do it, for me it was a great experience. Talk as much as you can to the people living there and not just to the expats. And don´t take too much luggage with you.  There is no need for water disinfection devices or other expedition stuff, you will be properly provided concerning your basic needs.