SPANISH MISSION TO ALIADE, NIGERIA

MAY 2010

Fears to travel to an unknown place for us, fears to leave our families to start a new adventure, but we have to thank Prof Kingsnorth for advising us to go to Aliade, in Nigeria. It has been a great experience, we can say again that we have had that feeling of coming back home with a smile on our face. This is our third year of working together with Operation Hernia and we can say that the Spanish team is a group with a deep experience in this type of Projects, and we feel so proud to have the chance to support Operation Hernia and to help local people to improve their quality of life by repairing their hernias.

Spanish Team
Spanish Team

This is a noisy group, we like to enjoy while we are working and we are able to say that we are prepared to end up living for a week in a calm place in which people work at their own rhythm. We are aware of the difficulties to local people to get use to our way of just being, but we feel very happy when they tell us, after just three days, that they are going to miss us when we leave and that we are making then happy during our stay in that place.

We have met many nice people during our stay in Aliade. We have the chance to sit and just talk to them, to laugh, to share a beer or a soft drink, to work while we are sweating, not because the heat but the humidity is very high, and at the end, all what it is left in our heart is that we can say we have had the chance to meet many nice people who work in a part of the world very close to our place, just 5 hours by plane, but very far in terms of opportunities, items availables, possibilities of being attended properly by a correct health systems and water and light canalization. We just hope we can reduce that distance with projects like this one.

As we were saying, many new faces in our hearts: the team of the five doctors of St Vincent´s Hospital, very interested in learning the different mesh techniques and anything we can teach them. Specially, we have to mention Dr Austin Ella, the program coordinator of Operation Hernia at Aliade, it was a real challange for him to manage his first real group of Operation Hernia after the visit of Prof Kingsnorth. He did a great job organizing everything for his first time and, you could say, he was anxious to know how he could improve his effort to maintain the project. We have had many conversation with him, and based on our previous experince in Operation Hernia, we tried to support him with new ideas for the success of future missions. We also have to make a special mention to Dr Charles, always smiling, always happy and anxious to learn the different techniques of mesh repair and the way to perform a spinal anesthesia. He wants to be part of the Spanish team next year anywhere we go, we are going be very happy to have him with us as part of the team.

The nurses at the theater, Peter and his team, nice people, they tried to understand every single step we made in the operating rooms, just to learn and to be able to do it by themself a week later. It was a great happiness for us to see their interests on our way of working, and it was even more important to see how, after just two days, they trusted us. As Peters said overall results are more important that the number of cases we are able to perform , and they were happy because we did many cases and the results were excellent. We were really proud and happy when the team of the theater walked together with us, after the party of the last night, from the hall to the convent, it was a sign of friendship between Peter´s team and the Spanish group, respect as professionals, and a way of rendering thanks to us as teachers of theirs team and as human being that came to help the local people of their own town.

On the other hand, we have to mention the Sisters of Nativity, they all took care of us, they really wanted us to feel comfortable and we can say that their hospitality was well appreciated by the team. They moved out of their own rooms at the convent so we could feel more comfortable. They adapted their own way of living to us and their own way of cooking to our preference. They did not stop any single day of our stay with them to say thanks for our help and to express how happy they were with our visit. They organized a welcome ceremony with a typical dance and a goodbye party with music, dancing, food and even fireworks, just to say see you soon .

And the local people, you could tell in their faces how happy they were of our work. Well done doc , that was the sentence that we heard everyday while we were walking through the open halls of the hospital. Sisters told us how happy they were walking back home by their own feet right after their surgery. Different cultures, tribal chiefs, little boys, families of the staff of the hospital, very poor people, from 12 month to 86 years old, all of them express, one by one, their gratitude for our visit.

The Spanish team, our 3 surgeons, Salva, Antonio and Juan, the two anesthesiologist, Ana and Hilario, our 2 nurses, Patricia and Manolo, and our general doctor, Virginia, have loved this experience and want to support once again this missión to the heart of Africa, because it is necessary for local people. We felt very good with ourselves since we had the feeling that we solved many problems in just five days, 90 surgeries in 75 patients, we teached how to repair hernias using a mesh and how to perform properly a local and a spinal anesthesia to the local doctors and nurses.

Of course, the last thanks, which is very important, to our Hospitals, three in Sevilla, University Hospital Virgen del Rocío, University Hospital Virgen Macarena and USP-Clínica Sagrado Corazón, and two en Huelva, Hospital of Río Tinto and Hospital Infanta Elena , that support this project by covering our work during five days and offering instruments, meshes and sutures. And we also want to thanks to Atlanta-Agencia de Viajes, to Helvetia, to Entrearte Enmarcaciones, to Arena Publicidad and to Estudio Buenavista for their support with the different aspects of this project.

We will continue with our contribution to this mission in order to set the basis of a Project that is a reality, trying to search a better world, continuing what Prof Kingsnorth has already done.

Salvador Morales-Conde