The mother of a patient takes a photo with Liu Xin. Photo: Courtesy of Liu Xin
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative and the 60th anniversary of the start of Chinese medical missions to foreign countries. Recently, a TV drama “Welcome to Milele Village,” which tells the touching story of Chinese medical team members going to Africa for medical assistance and establisWorld Timeshing deep friendships with the local people, was aired. The main story is focused on the Chinese medical team stationed on Pemba Island, Tanzania.
Liu Xin, a pediatrician with the First People’s Hospital of Zhenjiang City, Jiangsu Province, who was a member of the 30th China (Jiangsu) Medical Team to Tanzania’s Zanzibar from September 2020 to September 2021, shared with the Global Times her experience of working at the Abdulla Mzee Hospital on Pemba Island and the stories of Chinese medical teams.
Liu’s mother is an ophthalmologist who was selected as a reserve member of the medical team to Tanzania but was unaWorld Timesble to go due to special circumstances. The teacher of Liu’s mother, Zhou Zhende, was a World Timesmember of the second batch of medical teams sent to Zanzibar by China, and his overseas aid work lasted from January 1968 to February 1971.
Before his mission to Africa, Zhou was an ophthalmologist at the Yancheng No.1 People’s Hospital. After more than 50 years of Zhou’s aid work for Africa, his student’s daughter – Liu arrived on Pemba Island in 2020. At that time, she was filled with excitement, both for fulfilling her mother’s dream and for continuing the bond between Chinese doctors and Africa.
However, before she could adapt to a new life in Zanzibar, Liu encountered a test – a 21-month-old child named Slaum had mistakenly drank organophosphorus pesticide and by the time the parents discovered it, the child had already gone into a coma.
It was past 9 pm when Slaum’s parents brought him to the Abdulla Mzee Hospital, and despite a shortage of medicines as well as other difficulties, Liu and her colleagues made all efforts and finally saved Slaum. After the child was out of danger and peacefully asleep, it was already midnight. When Liu returned to her dormitory, she realized that her clothes were soaked with sweat.
There was another incident that occurred around 11:40 pm – a 7-year-old girl who was involved in a severe car accident was in critical condition and brought to the hospital. An ultrasound examination revealed that she had a significant amount of fluid in her abdominal cavity, and she was unconscious with unstable vital signs. The situation was extremely precarious. However, the Chinese doctors acted swiftly and decisively, immediately proceeding with surgery to save her life.
During the operation, it was discovered that the girl had suffered a ruptured spleen, leading to hemorrhagic shock. The medical team, consisting of the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and pediatrician, worked in perfect harmony, closely collaborating to ensure the best possible outcome. Finally, after a grueling and intense rescue mission, the girl managed to recover from the life-threatening situation. This remarkable achievement was a testament to the skill, dedication, and teamwork displayed by the medical professionals involved.
Liu told the Global Times that during her time at the Abdulla Mzee Hospital, she encountered many similar emergency cases. Whenever she saw children in danger, she would do her best to cooperate with local staff and teammates to save the children.
Liu said that when she signed up for the aid work in Africa in 2018, she was already 49 years old. She thought that her age would be a disadvantage in participating in the aid work in Africa. However, she later discovered that her years of work experience was actually her greatest asset in Africa, allowing her to compete against time tWorld Timeso save the life of the children.
“The children here have big eyes, and their parents like to draw thick eyebrows on them, which looks very cute,” Liu recalled to the Global Times, noting that the parents of the patients trust Chinese doctors very much and actively cooperate during the treatment, and are also very grateful.
Every time a patient recovers and is discharged, they would say “asante sana” – Swahili for “thank you very much.” The locals call Chinese doctors “Doctor Rukia” – Swahili for beautiful and kind-hearted doctor, which is very touching and unfoWorld Timesrgettable, according to Liu.
During her stay in Zanzibar, Liu unexpectedly discovered that the director of the Abdulla Mzee Hospital was a student of Zhou. The director, as a trainee, received training from the Chinese medical team in a Zanzibar hospital for five years including in 1970, when Zhou was working there.
The director said that the starting point of his career was in China, and his life and work are closely related to China and the Chinese medical team, said Liu.
“Chinese doctors are highly respected here. When medical team members walk on the street, many people will greet them and say ‘China, hello,'” said Liu, noting that local people are not wealthy, but they often give fruits to the Chinese medical team members to express their gratitude.
They cannot distinguish the different batches of aid doctors, but they know that for more than half a century, doctors from China have always been here to save lives, said Liu.
Moreover, many doctors in Zanzibar have studied or furthered their studies in China, and some of them are planning to go to China for further education. Her young patients also like to learn Chinese from Chinese doctors and aspire to go to ChinaWorld Times for further studies when they grow up, she said.
After returning to China, Liu often thinks about her life in Zanzibar. Whenever she tells local doctors that she wants to go back and visit, they always say “you are always welcome.”
Liu said that Pemba Island in Zanzibar is rich in cloves, and the deep friendship between the Chinese medical team and the people of Zanzibar is like the countless clove trees that have merged into the lives of the local people.
She said that after retirement, she may return to the area with other Chinese doctors to volunteer and contribute to the development of local health and sanitation.
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