Experiencing the Culture of Mali

So it has been a long time since my first post, but here I am with another one. This won’t be about cooking, but I will be sharing my experience in Mali. I recently went on a medical missions trip with Mali in Africa with Team Healthcare. This is my third trip with Team Healthcare, but my first trip to Mali. I went to Kenya twice before. My experiences in Mali and Kenya were very different. The team worked at a hospital called “Hopital Femmes et Enfants.” Mali’s official language if French, but that is spoken mostly by the educated people of Mali. Many people spoke Bambara, which is a commonly used language in Mali too. Team Healthcare came to Mali to work with Dr. Dan Kim, a pediatric surgeon and son of two of the leaders of Team Healthcare. Dr. Kim and his family, wife Julie and children Sophia, Judson, and Anise, have lived in Mali for the past four years. Dr. Kim is a pediatric surgeon at Hopital Femme et Enfants. He and his family are full time missionaries in Mali.

The hospital provides full maternity services and has a pediatric center for both inpatient and outpatient services. I was amazed at the magnitude of the hospital and by the type of patients that the hospital services. One of the main jobs that the team worked on was organizing the “magazin” aka the warehouse. While we were there, the hospital received a container of supplies from the US, and we were able to organize all the supplies for them. It was a huge undertaking, but we accomplished what we could. The team would come home tired and very dusty, but satisfied with a job well done. Not knowing what to expect and what I would do medically, I truly did enjoy seeing the medical aspect of the hospital. It was interesting seeing how a hospital works in other countries. This hospital’s patient population is mostly maternity and pediatric. This is way outside of my knowledge base and comfort zone. During the week I tagged along during the pediatric rounds with another nurse and pediatrician from our team. After each room we rounded on, the whole medical team would pray for the patients. I loved this!! I got to observe some surgeries while i was there and before each surgery someone would pray. It was amazing to be able to combine medicine and faith at the hospital. Each morning at 8am there were hospital devotions. We came each morning and listened to the devotions spoken in both French and Bambara.

One of my favorite days was going to the markets in Koutiala. Markets are always one of the best places to experience the culture of a country. Julie Kim, Dr. Kim’s wife, took us around the market place. The purpose was to buy some fabric and some of the women had skirts made by a tailor. This is a very common practice from what I could tell. The clothing that everyone wears is very bright and colorful. The market place also provided experiences for all the senses. The smells were amazing, the colors vibrants, and the sounds of mopeds filled the market place. Everyone was selling their wares and they had both Western type products, along with Malian products.

The trip was amazing and I wish I could share all of my experiences here. I loved how there is the modernness of today, but people also use donkey and carts to get around. I sat next to a man named Miguel on the plane from Paris to Bamako and got to practice my Spanish. He spoke only Spanish, and I got to translate the French food items into Spanish for him so he could pick what he wanted to eat on the plane. I also got sick on my grand adventure too. Being sick in a foreign country is definitely not fun. But thankfully it didn’t last long. We also had some care trouble on our way back to Bamako, where the airport is. But the people of Mali are known for their hospitality and provided us with chairs and benches while we waited for people. They also provided us with a “lovely” outhouse, but that is another story! Overall the trip was more than I could ever imagine and I loved seeing how God is working in Koutiala and the hospital. I love going on the medical missions because I am able to combine my faith and nursing. Both which have impacted me in my life. I wish I could share more, but that would be a book.




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