02 July 2010



Some students from St Mary's College in Maryland, United States, have said that their month-long stay in Foni Berefet on research has been a good experience for them as they had the opportunity to meet and interact with local people whilst learning to speak local languages better.
A Psychology and Neurobiology student, Mike Woodburn, noted that the trip has made him more adaptable to change, more self-reliant and less reliant on technology.
"We had drumming and dancing by women which was nice. I have also been learning Mandinka Language and I am a lot better than I was when I came. Everybody knows everybody and are more open. That is definitely something I would like to take back home".
Amanda Porter who conducted research on traditional Medicine said she had learned a lot from the meetings she had with Marabouts and Alkalos about the different plants and herbs used used in the healing process. Another aspect of traditional Medicine she has discovered in her research, she continued, is the use of the use of spirituality like the Qu'ran to heal people.
She adds: "It is awesome. Friendly people and very welcoming. There are very organized houses and the kids can speak good English so they could communicate with us and the food was delicious".
Sociology and Anthropology Major Frank Callow, the focus of whose research was spatial, organizational and geographical perception said that he dusted off an old World Map and had a geography lesson with kids which he described as "interactive".
He said that the kids with whom he had the geography lesson understand more about the subject in terms of Sports as they could easily name countries from other parts of the globe but would have no answer when he would ask them about the neighboring countries.
He also had the opportunity to make further research on Alkalorship, the local power structure, compilation of oral history and cultural sites. Whilst speaking on his impressions of the local power structure, he said that "power is pretty defused as you can easily meet other people in authority after meeting the Alkalo".
For Elizabeth Benge and Susan Signooelli, working in the country's main Health facility, Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital, has enabled them to learn how to deliver babies and cut Umbilical Chords as well as inserting cannulas, among others.
"I got to know the expectations placed on the shoulders of Doctors. People streamed in double the number of Doctors. There is lack of enough personnel and supplies to take care of the patients" said Elizabeth Benge.
Susan Signooelli added that the Doctors and Nurses are "brilliant" and "hardworking" as she called on the Government of The Gambia to provide more resources for the Health sector so that more people can join the labor force and do their job with less stress.
She concluded that it is "very hard on the emotions" to see patients not getting the help they need and said that the lack of urgency and laid-back approach of the staff should change.

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