Monday (day 5): under the tree, into the ward (screening day)
Today the rest of the team arrived: both surgeons and the anesthesiologist. After they'd settled in and eaten a quick lunch, we headed to the clinic area to start screening the women.
We found the women waiting under the tree as usual. Some women had previously been operated on in May and were returned for a check-up; some had been screened previously and were already on this week's surgical schedule; some had simply heard of the fistula center and came seeking hope.
|The ladies brought their mothers, daughters, sisters...|
|Marouka and Aichatou|
We set up our screening area in the maternity clinic, and one by one the women came through to be examined. I assisted the surgeons with the physical exam, handing them supplies and trying to anticipate their needs. We screened somewhere around 20 women, although I am not sure of the exact numbers. 10 will be operated on this week, and some of the others will return for surgery in November when the next VVF team comes.
|Screening VVF ladies in the maternity clinic in Danja|
At the end of the day we had a surgical schedule made up for the week, and we brought the first two women from under the tree into the ward that night. Similar to on the ship, we had to teach the women how to shower in preparation for surgery the next morning. One of the local nurses working with us explained that for many people in this region of Niger, you are considered clean if you have bathed your face, hands, and feet. This makes sense when you also consider the great distances that many people have to haul their water!
Tomorrow: the first two surgeries!