5TH TO 9TH JUNE 2023
Ankavandra is a rural commune in the District of Miandrivazo, on the Manambolo river. Ankavandra is among the red zones in terms of security, especially in the outlying villages. The commune has about 10,000 villagers, most of whom are farmers and fishermen.
In total we were 14 people, 12 in the medical team and 2 pastors. Because of the weight limit and the number of passengers, 6 people had to travel by car from Tana to Tsiroanomandidy and the others by direct plane. The distance from Tana to Tsiroanomandidy is about 250 km and the flight time from Tsiroanomandidy to Ankavandra is 20 minutes vs 2 days by road. Many villagers were already waiting for us at the airstrip to help transport our materials and equipment.
After installing the tents and equipment, we made the courtesy visit to the local authorities. We were well received by the mayor of the town and his colleagues. They helped us a lot with logistics during the mission. After the courtesy visit, the surgical team began the sterilization of equipment. We used the dispensary of the Ankavandra church to carry out our activities with the very strong collaboration of the midwife / nurse who is in charge of the dispensary, and will be responsible for the postoperative follow-up of MMS patients.
On Tuesday June 6 at 8 a.m., we started the day with a religious service led by the Pastor of the Ankavandra church and the pastors we brought along, followed by a speech by the mayor for the official opening of the mission. Afterwards, presentation of the whole team, and information concerning the progress of our activities to all the patients who came in large numbers. Many of the patients live very far from Ankavandra; because of this, the first day focused on patients coming from far away, and the following day on Ankavandra villagers. Everything went well.
Most patients still practice witchcraft, which is a bit difficult, especially for the surgery team. A 2-year-old child we brought in for hernia surgery. Everything went well but when the team was going to take him to the post-op room, they noticed that the child was no longer breathing (the child had 3 balls of hair on his head and the family said that they are “idols”), the team tried to revive him for hours.
We felt that an unholy spirit had held the child back and we asked the family if we could pray for the child and give him a deliverance. The family did not accept. His father said that there are 2 male sorcerers in their village who take care of the child and even his mother still stayed in the village with these sorcerers. He says one sorcerer gave the blessing to the child but the other refuses to operate on the child. He tried to call the other sorcerer to give the blessing to the child and remove the “ody” they put on the child to deliver him but the sorcerer could not be reached by telephone. In the end, we could not save the child.
Like every mission, MMS is not only a medical mission but it is above all a spiritual mission because 80% of the people in the bush, especially on the coasts, still live with witchcraft and the “idols”. Alot of people carry a small ball of fabric with them, like necklace or bracelet and when I asked them what is that, they said that they are “idols” to provide protection from thunderbolts, dahalos, enemies…
Our pastors worked a lot during this mission. After this incident, we decided to do a kind of delivery to all the patients who are going to be operated on. They did an evangelistic film screening on Thursday afternoon, many people attended, I hope it will bring a change of mind to all these villagers.
Wednesday morning we had a visit from our fellow brothers from MAF Norway and Antananarivo led by Patrick Keller. It was an honour for the whole team to receive them and show them how things are really going with the Madagascar Medical Safari mission. It allowed them to ask questions to have more information. They visited the village and they left for Tana in the afternoon.
The gendarmerie and the head of the commune took a great initiative for the safety of the plane during the visit of the MAF team to the village and their safety on the way to the village. Given the large number of patients that we have not yet been able to receive, we decided to continue working all day on the last day of the mission. Many people were not consulted during this mission but we hope to do the maximum for the next one to Ankavandra, scheduled for October 2023.
During the medical consultation, a young boy of 17 years old was taken by his family, he fell from a mango tree and he had a spine problem. Part of his spine swelled up, we couldn’t do anything but we gave him an anti-inflammatory. I showed them to Patrick from MAF to ask if we could do a few things for him, he agreed to give a flight so that we could examine the child in Tananarive, but the problem is the medical budget side. So I ask our Hoveraid sponsors if it’s possible to help this child, he still has a future ahead of him but now because of that, he won’t be able to do anything. Even if only a scan to find out what is really going on in his spine will be a great thing for him and his family.
The building we use is in a poor state, especially the ceiling and we had to use tarpaulins to cover it. The manager asked if we can help them to repair this ceiling or to at least paint the surgery room.
Medical consultation 384; Ultrasound 88; Dental extraction 72;
Surgery: major 26, minor 4, Ophthalmology 61