Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Yellow Fever (Vaccinations)

Over the last few months there have been some cases of yellow fever around the region of Kédougou, so the Ministry of Health got a vaccination campaign together. Along with enough vaccine for pretty much everyone in the region, they sent out banners and hats and t-shirts and posters that proclaimed "One Injection = 10 Years of Protection." I had to get a yellow fever vaccination at my staging in Washington D.C. in order to be allowed into Senegal, so I was all set. Every person who got vaccinated got a little card, very similar to the one I have now, as proof of vaccination in case they need to cross a border that requires proof of vaccination. My role during most of the campaign was to provide comic relief (A toubab who speaks Pulaar! Hilarious!) and also to fill out hundreds and hundreds of these little cards.

Neighborhood Vaccination Station

Vaccination station in a
village without a health structure.

Sedenbou: A ramshackle mining village with no wells. 

Maybe my favorite part was on the last day that I went out en brousse and we went to a tiny little Pulaar village called Medina Jam Weli. It's just a few compounds, the road out to it really isn't a road at all -- It's just a tiny little village wayyyyyy out in the bush. We pulled up, and the health workers (many of whom have been sent out from the cities and do not speak Pulaar or live in huts) were wondering who on earth lives out here, and I realized that I recognized the moto leaning up against the mango tree. One of my host brothers was randomly visiting the village, dropping some stuff off for my host father. Everyone in the car thought it was really funny when I exclaimed "Omigod! That's my brother!" and went off to greet everyone in the village. It turns out that Kade, my youngest host mother (my host father's third wife) is from Medina Jam Weli, so I got to meet her parents and siblings (I took a lot of pictures, which she was super pleased about when I got back and showed her) and they sat me down and made me eat some steamed rice with peanut sauce, which was great because I was really hungry.

Adama (me) and Ibrahima (my host brother)
People were really receptive to being vaccinated, and to getting their kids vaccinated. Many community members helped out with spreading the word about the vaccinations and with running the logistics of the campaign. There were still many problems (communications, transport, gas, and so on) but it was a really encouraging to see a big group of people working so hard to help their communities avoid a really nasty illness.

Vaccinations under a mango tree

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