DOB: October 2, 1987
Place of Birth: Pakaliba, Lower River Region
Work: Community Health Nurse (CHN)
Education: Masa Kombo CHN School
In my Peace Corps service, I have been very fortunate to have some truly amazing counterparts that I am able to work with daily. My work would be completely in vain without the creativity, knowledge, and unceasing encouragement from these individuals. I hope that, on this blog, I will be able to spotlight each one of them. In my heart of hearts, I wish that each one of you, readers, could personally meet them.
Today’s spotlight is on Mamadou, or more fondly known as HM by me and Jobs by his colleagues and friends. I am extreamly blessed to have a very active community health nurse in my village as well as someone that I can call a great friend! No matter how crazy the idea, he is always ready to work and make it happen and continue the work even in my absence.
HM also has the best cook in town making him food, so he is a great friend to have when I’ve had to eat one too many fish balls at my compound! Getting him, our Community Health Worker and maybe a neighbor or two together for some chow is always a good time!
HM had always wanted to be a CHN. He found himself in a very good situation with parents that fully supported his want to finish school and continue on to university. His three brothers also went on to achieve higher education. One in business management, one in architecture, and one in banking. He fondly reflects on how, financially, they were not always in the best place, but regardless, the encouragement within his family was there, pushing him through.
Although nursing was HM’s ultimate goal, he didn’t singularly desire to work within a health care center. He wanted to work within a community and be more active in the field. He foresaw community health as having more opportunity in a way. Community Health Nursing is a two year program. On the side, he also was a drama team leader for the creation and implementation of health dramas…This makes sense to me, because I am always telling HM that he is the most dramatic Gambian in all The Gambia.
After two years of hard work and renting a place with a room mate, HM was sent to Kulari in 2012. He has been doing CHN work for six years now. Something impressive about CHNs in general, I think, is that they can be placed anywhere in The Gambia. This means that they may not even proficiently speak the local language (something us Peace Corps Volunteers can identify with very well). In HM’s case, he did not know Sarahule. It is obvious how hard he has worked within the community, as I have been able to observe the trust and reliance that so many of Kulari’s inhabitants have placed in him.
I was not surprised when I asked what HM’s favorite part of his job was. He responded that his favorite part is taking care of the malnourished children. Practically all day every day, HM is surrounded by the neighbor kids that bop in and out of the clinic, never giving him a break. I give him so much credit, because it seems as if his patience never runs out.
The hardest part about being a CHN, he believes, is doing monthly surveillances. CHNs have a heavy workload. Generally, they don’t just take care of one village. They have responsibility over other surrounding villages, as well. When surveillance time comes around, its a week of being extremely busy, on top of the day to day responsibilities of running the clinic and seeing patients. Sometimes, depending on the season such as malaria season, men and women will be coming to the clinic 10, 11, or even 12 o clock at night. We sat and came up with a vague job description of the average CHN. They are community workers, they oversee the Community Birth Companions (CBCs), Community Health Workers (CHW), and work alongside the Community Development group, they deliver health talks, preform inspections, run monthly Reproductive and Chid Health Clinics (RCH), and educate on preventative measures. It’s an everyday, all day job.
Like any hard working individual, HM has his favorite hobbies that include watching movies and drinking ataya. Not comedies, though…action movies.
HM believes that it is important for men and women to receive higher education, because knowledge will ultimately give Gambians the ability to do more than would otherwise be done for the Gambia. It is essential for any form of development. He is motivated by experience. Working in the community gives him so many more positive experiences. Just working with the people, alone, is encouragement enough to continue the work that he does. Those who know him can clearly see how he works to better the health of Kulari and The Gambia as a whole.
There needs to be more people like Jobs in The Gambia. He has a passion for his people and his country. It’s the people that care who make the greatest strides in growth, community and development.