AfricaMercyShip-Volunteer-Dental Screening

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Africa » Guinea » Conakry
September 17th 2012
Published: September 17th 2012
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There were demonstrations scheduled for today in Conakry to protest a U-Tube video. I don’t know any more than that. We are under curfew and only the Dental and Eye Teams were allowed to leave port.

At about seven his morning, I went to the Dental Screening Site to help with crowd control. There were five of us who had the time off from our regular jobs along with some hired security people, who were local and spoke the language, who went on site. We went via a Mercy Ship Land Rover though the place is about a 10 minute walk from the port on a side street. It was partly cloudy. (It is still the rainy season here.) I looked very official in my yellow vest with the Mercy Ships logo.

There were about 300 people waiting. The street was closed to traffic. We had them form three lines, men, women and children. There were a few additional translators (Mercy Ships day workers) which was helpful. Mostly, people were obliging and we tried to keep new comers from cutting into the line. If you can remember lining up in grade school, that was a big deal. It went well today. If there had been a problem in a line, then that line would have been closed. That approach has worked in the past to calm people quickly.

Some people had problems other than dental. We took their information and they will be put on a list in the event there is an opening and it is something the surgical staff can address. The Dental screenings (or selections as they are called here) are on Mondays and Thursdays for the next two weeks. There may be more screenings later.

People came hours before the actual screening started. There were venders selling water, bread and a rice dish. People marked their places in line with a rock, branch, umbrella or other item and then sat on the curb until it neared the screening time. At that point, things moved quickly. People with the most urgent needs were seen first. After a very brief check (a few seconds) by a dentist, they were given a wrist band with a date and time to return if they met the guidelines.

We were told to keep moving up and down the lines. If we stopped for more than a minute to talk with someone, then a group would form around us. At about 10:30 then screening ended for the day. Our security leader told us to go to the vehicle. Then it was announced that people who were not seen could return on Thursday.


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