Today the newly built BACE health clinic in the village of Bonsa, in The Gambia, was open for the first time.
BACE held a trial run at the clinic, opening one treatment room, as volunteers continued to paint the rest of the building. The clinic is still without windows, doors, steps and a lot more, but that did not stop villagers forming a long queue outside.
Two nurses from the UK, Charlotte Barnett from benenden hospital and Nicola Norton, from Stoke Mandeville Hospital, saw more than 30 patients who had a range of ailments. Two patients had signs of malaria. Others had ear infections, eye conditions, foot infections, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and other problems.
Fatou, who visited the project yesterday, returned to have her infected foot washed and dressed for a second time. We were pleased to see she was wearing the shoes we gave her yesterday and that her foot was already looking a lot better.
People had walked for many miles to attend the clinic and sat and waited patiently until it was their turn, even though some of the elderly, an expectant mum and several children looked quite poorly. It made me realise just how much we take healthcare for granted in the UK.
Charlotte and Nicola helped people with the aid of interpreters and a book of Wolof phrases, one of the main languages in the local area.
Two visitors to the clinic ended up helping out. They were Joe, who is an intensive care nurse in The Gambia, who is working closely with the BACE project and Ebou Bah, from the Medical Research Council, who had heard about the clinic and wants to give his support.
Meanwhile other volunteers were helping children at the Favour Preparatory School to decorate canvas bags, which were donated to BACE. The children were then able to take the bags home to their families.
Tomorrow the clinic will open once again. Work will continue on completing the health clinic, as will efforts on the garden project, which is not easy when watering newly planted seeds means many trips to and from the nearest well.