Day1, 4th April
In the Beginning of March 2017 I was invited by Physicians Across Continents (PAC) to join a team of Surgeons on a ‘risky’ journey to save Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) patients in Mogadishu Somalia.
VVF is a dehumanizing condition that happens to usually young girls delivering children as a result of disproportion between the baby’s head and the incompletely developed pelvis leading to often the death of the baby and a hole forming between the girls vagina and urinary bladder leading to continuous leakage of urine. It usually happens in less developed societies with malnutrition, early marriages and unavailability of obstetric services.
Somalia is a war torn and very unstable country with the perfect recipe for endemicity of VVF.
Unfortunately VVF surgeons like myself are likely to be reluctant to offer services in this war torn region with weapons everywhere, common terrorist activities and kidnappings.
Well for me, I feel so passionately about this that nothing can prevent me going to save the lives of these unfortunate girls. So when the invitation was tendered I thought to myself…time for an adventure!! And despite advice to the contrary from family and close friends and financial losses both in real time and my absence from work, I made the decision to go.
My trip was fraught with difficulties and my first attempt to travel in March was unsuccessful due to problems with travel documents. Things were eventually sorted and I was set to go by 29 March 2017.
Air journeys in West Africa are grueling due to lack of direct flights. To go to Mogadishu I would have to go to Dakar first then catch a flight either via Kenya or Turkey before getting a connection to Mogadishu.
It turned out that the flight via Turkey (Europe) was more convenient and cheaper. The Earliest flight available was for Monday 3rd April and the only flight available for Dakar was on Friday 31 March meaning I had to stay in Dakar for two days doing nothing but just waiting for the flight.