Friday, June 29, 2012

Senegal 2012: Field Notes Digest (Part 2)

The Traditional Medicine Hospital at Keur Massar is more of a compound of specialized buildings, well groomed land, and a comprehensive garden of the world’s medicinal plants (and it’s growing). A sign out front lists some ailments they are capable of treating, probably the most common, which reads like a fast food menu. It also makes mention of the price structure: Consultations are 1000FCFA, and treatments are the same. I am told that in the event that a patient cannot afford either, they are more than welcome to make installments. The generous pay-what-you-can policy found at the guĂ©risseur in Dakar might be missing here, but it’s understandable: Keur Massar is a self-sustained property where the plants are grown at the point of sale. One might think that the cheaper rates and wide-open rural space might be more attractive to those in need, but at this time of the year, the hospital may only see five to ten patients a day. Unfortunately, Keur Massar is about an hour and a half from downtown Dakar by autobus (or 3 hours, in my case), though the cost is only 400FCFA there and back. On the other hand, a trip to the guĂ©risseur from my neighborhood could be 10 minutes at 2000FCFA by taxi or 45 minutes at 200FCFA by car-rapide – both prices being round-trip.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Senegal 2012: Field Notes Digest (Part 1)

I’ve been in Senegal for two weeks now. This is my first time to Africa, and it certainly won’t be my last. For the most part, it has been an easy transition, but I’d be lying if I said that my first couple days weren’t completely overwhelming. It is one thing to be a foreigner here, but I get the impression that my experience is strongly influenced by the fact that I am tubaab – a Wolof word that describes me as a Caucasian, and implies that I have wealth. Senegal isn’t special in that regard; people the world over tend to assume that “because you are white, you have money,” which is a phrase I often hear. The onslaught of vendors just takes some getting used to.