In Mali, your name is extremely important. That is to say, your family name. What's cool is that we, as adopted members of the culture, are expected to choose a Malian last name. It's not something to be taken lightly. Most people choose the last name of a friend or significant person they get to know. I haven't actually counted, but there are ten or so names that are the most common ones. Most people I meet have a last name that I've heard before. So, there aren't that many to choose from. Everyone I meet asks me my last name. Before I chose one they would insist that I choose their name. Now that I've chosen they insist that I change it to their name. They suggest the change only after feigning great dismay and disappointment that I chose a different name. It is really quite hilarious. What is fun about it is that different people groups, represented by the different names, call themselves "joking cousins". So, if your last name is Coulibaly (the majority) and you meet someone named Goita or Dembele, then instantly the teasing starts. Even if you've never met before. They laugh constantly over this. I can't claim to understand what they are saying or the humor behind it, but they have fun teasing each other.
Two weeks ago we went out to a village on a Sunday. We went with one of our local Malian pastors who was in charge of introducing all of us to the village leaders. One by one we stood to be introduced and pastor Enoch would introduce each of us using his own last name, Coulibaly. This is Jason "Coulibaly". There was lots of laughing as each one of us would shake our heads and correct him. No one in our group had the last name of Coulibaly and with each introduction, and name correction, the laughing would start over. It never got old. Pastor Enoch cracked himself up calling each of us Coulibaly. The name I chose is Kamate (kaw-maw-tay). Jason Kamate.
Some of our hospital staff and me in the village
I had a fun week at the hospital this week. I got the chance to help out with a surgery. Dan Nesselroade is our OB doctor and has to do a lot of non-OB type surgeries. So, we had a little boy with a terrible infection of his right leg and thigh bone. We actually had to open up his poor leg and remove the infected part of the bone. I thought I'd be observing mostly, but, as it turns out, I scrubbed in and helped Dan with the whole thing. I even got to sew up the wound at the end of the surgery. The last time I helped with a surgery was in medical school. It was really fun (medically speaking, not so much for the little boy). We're hoping an praying that his leg heals well and that he'll be able to walk normally one day.
Dan and me in surgery.
Here are some random pictures of life here in Koutiala.
One of our patients who had a skin graft.
Kids at the market.
The perils of rainy season...getting stuck.
Dried fish in the market...smelled great.
Marianne, who has TB, had been in the
hospital for 3 months. She's getting better.