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Poverty Alleviation Projects

September, 2011 UPDATE

Dear Adam and Friends at The $10 Club,

Karen Jackson here, your grant recipient for the Health Clinic in Madiana Village, The Gambia West Africa.

I returned home just two weeks ago - still do not quite have my feet under me. It is difficult to buy a cup of coffee without feeling frivolous. My friend Lucia Robinson and I were in the Madiana Village from February 20th to the 1st of March, then spent a week in the nearby village of Furato, then returned to Madiana until March 12th. During that time I saw and treated approximately 250 patients, with a young girl interpreting who was fluent in three tribal languages - Mandinka, Jola, Fula - and English. Her name is Naffi and she was a god-send. (We have initiated a scholarship to help her finish high school and apply to nursing school).

Lucia and I had expected to help with the construction, painting and set up of the clinic. Instead, when we arrived, a large village celebration was in progress to open the freshly painted clinic. The workmen proudly showed us the six exam rooms and an office space, two beds, several plastic tables, and long wooden benches for waiting patients to sit on.

The very next morning we had patients lined up on the porch of the clinic and patients coming to our compound at all hours looking for the "American nurse". From sun up to sun down we met with mothers and their children. Lucia, an experienced herbalist and health care worker, was taking blood pressures and gathering as much information as she could, while I tended to everything from malaria, hepatitis, burns, parasites, gynecological problems, new born babies and young just-birthed mothers.

We both had arrived with donations of medical supplies, herbal salves and tinctures, some homeopathic remedies, three solar panels and wiring. Every other day a driver took us into the larger town of Serrakunda to a pharmacy where we restocked with whatever was available - the pharmacies having limited supplies themselves. During our return visit to Madiana, I was able to meet with an Israeli pharmacist who was very helpful in giving me bulk discounts and much needed advise on local diseases.

The grant money spread remarkably far and wide.

The building is essentially complete, the solar panels were being hooked up and batteries purchased during our final week there. Some income will be generated by the solar panels being utilized to recharge cell phones at a small price.

One disappointment was to learn that there is no immediate staffing for the clinic. Baba Jammeh, a nurse living in the village, works for the ministry in HIV and AIDS education. His work has him traveling frequently and his time in the village is limited. Further, 90% of the patients we saw needed immediate dental care. We were at a loss to provide much relief from abscessed teeth, other than temporary pain killers.

Lucia and I came away with immediate fundraising goals for a (at least) part-time nurse to staff the clinic, a watchman to protect the solar panels, batteries and supplies, a dentist for at least once-a-month clinics. As I mentioned, Naffi has also stated that she would like to attend the University to become a registered nurse.

We soon learned that we need to be patient, as things move according to "Gambia Time". Lucia and I are collaborating on slide presentations, trying to raise sustainable support.

I cannot possibly thank you enough for this experience. Many of our goals were achieved. Others are going to require continued effort, but the village is now a part of us and we feel a responsibility to follow through.

Love, peace, and endless gratitude,
Karen


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