Mina Lahlal

When did you stay at Masanga?
6 weeks during end of rainy season (September/October) 2013

What was your motivation for going to Masanga?
I very much wanted to go back to Africa, I also wanted to understand more about the medicine in remote areas and since I enjoyed some outstanding teaching in the past… I see it as a challenge to live up to it.

What was your first meeting with Masanga like?
I was quite impressed by the size and squatteredness of the hospital side of the village as well as Edi’s beautiful (food) garden around the Capacare house.

What were your main duties while at the hospital?
I was meant to be teaching, however clinical staff was urgently needed – so it became basically half half… preparing lessons on clinically relevant topics, teaching and being part of the team in the accident and emergency department.

What have you learned from this experience?
I have learnt a lot about tropical medicine, the handling of late presentations, circumcision/FGM and the “secret societies”, differential diagnosis in this setting as well as working in a resource scarce setting while handling trauma and internal medicine cases.

I enjoyed teaching medicine with self-designed games. The laughter of the students and their concentration payed after a long working day or on week-ends thaught me that even “serious” medicine can indeed be thaught more efficiently in a playful way.

What is your advice to others that are thinking about going to Sierra Leone and Masanga?
I would very strongly recommend it and would encourage you to keep your head up even if you might sometimes feel down in the dumps because working under such circumstances can be challenging.

The eye level discussions with the people of Sierra Leone have repeatedly proven to be invaluable gifts – be it with the students, the hospital manager, the driver, the gardener or our patients and their relatives. With an open mind and ear you can learn a lot from the people… Try not to tolerate (even subtler forms of) segregation – the respect you will earn will be yours.