And so my second week comes to an end.. While in the first week I spent much time getting settled in, and getting to know the people and places around me, in this second week I’ve tried more to settle into what I feel my role here will be, and therefore tried to apply myself to where I felt was needed and where I could be of assistance.
Some of this I’ve been able to do from home, such as applying for grants, researching materials for my project etc. This in preparation for what to come on the 26th, when my advisor arrives from Denmark, and my research here starts for real. But having gotten to know the projects operating here, and gained insight into some of the most common problems they face, I’ve also spent my time thinking of and implementing some more efficient routines and equipment at both the hospital and the project.
These include storage and organization of supplies, ordering Wifi equipment for network enabling printers at project and Simao Mendes Hospital (as most people now have to carry their computers into the printer room, and manually connect via USB or in some cases LPT1..), sorting MAC filtering access tables at project to remove old and unknown entries, researching sea cables connecting Guinea Bissau to the Internet in order to determine if a better connection may be set up at project, and centralizing Anti-virus updates for project computers on ISDN speed connection (ex. Update = 80Mb, x 10 computers all downloading at the same time => Will never finish (people only work at the project 4h in the afternoon), will slow internet connection to a halt, will start over every time computers reconnect to Internet..
In general I find that many of the technical solutions already set in place are rather fragile and unstable. This, as they were in most cases implemented by people now long gone, and now left in the hands of others, who sometimes do not possess even the required knowledge to maintain them, let alone the ability to understand and evolve upon them, and to see where improvements might be made.
Therefore, so far, much of my work here so far has been rather geeky in nature. But it’s actually been a great pleasure to be able put some of my non medical knowledge to good use, and in this particular case it also makes me happy I spent all those hours of my youth playing, and later working with computers.
This has actually been somewaht a general feeling that I’ve experienced down here, and one also I’ve had before in other 3rd world countries.. It’s that in places like this, where education is poor, and the luxury of seeing beyond the necessities of everyday life is not afforded to all, that every skill counts, and those possessed and willingly shared, are most often both needed and much appreciated by all.
For someone such as myself, who’s dabbled in a lot of different things over the course of my life, it’s actually a wonderful feeling to be able to fully apply one self and feel that privately as well as professionally, all the parts are allowed and asked to make the whole. I consider this as opposed to a feeling that I’ve had in both Denmark and the rest of what we call the western world, of our society becoming ever more inclined towards specialization in most fields, professional labelling and general conformity strived for with each fold that seperates the sheets.
To put it simply, where in our part of the world, a doctor is a doctor, and a mechanic is a mechanic; here the sum of both is a gift sent from the gods. – If you possess a skill and advertise it, you may almost count on being asked to apply it, as most often the alternatives are none.