We are the world: West African girl connects Chinese surgeons with Mauritanian patients
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Laiya / Mauritania Project Specialist of GX Foundation 

Hello, I’m Laiya. I’m 22 years old. I have been working in GX Foundation for a month. My role is to manage the set-up for patients and translation too, between the patients and the Chinese doctors. And also do the office services like preparing for the medicine, preparing for the stuff like, we have a lot of set-up to go through each day. For me, I feel like it’s a responsibility. It’s our responsibility to do the translation, to really send what they actually said and the intention of them to the patient and also translate what the patients said and their real intention to the doctor. So it’s kind of a responsibility because they cannot communicate.


Laiya is the project specialist of the GX Foundation, which is an NGO established in Hong Kong. In October 2023, the GX foundation launched a project aimed at eliminating cataract blindness in Mauritania. The project is expected to span 18 months to conduct 3,500 free surgeries in collaboration with the China’s Heilongjiang medical team to address the local backlog of cases and restore sight of the patients. Laiya, a native of Mauritania, is fluent in Arabic and proficient in French, English, and Mandarin. 


Emily Chan / CEO of GX Foundation

Our team can speak French, Chinese, English. We will also recruit local staff and work with them. Because when you are working in the community, you have to communicate with the locals and you have to solve the problem with them. Most of our patients are senior citizens. The language they speak is usually basic local dialect even Arabic. Just now, when my colleague doing the translation both of us have to find the best words and expressions to make the patient feel more comfortable and not embarrassed. It is actually very challenging.


China sent its first medical aid team to support Mauritania fifty-five years ago, Laiya said she was grateful to have the opportunity to work under a Chinese organization and even took us to visit her home. She told us that she was born in a middle-class family. Laiya graduated from the Chinese Department of the University of Nouakchott and initially planned to study abroad in Shandong of China for a year at a master degree program of Chinese. But she learnt the GX Foundation's recruitment plan, she has changed her mind. Doing voluntary work since childhood, she suddenly found herself at a crossroads. Should she go abroad to further her study, or remain in her hometown to aid more needy people in local community? At the end, she chose the latter one.


Laiya / Mauritania Project Specialist of GX Foundation 

I got my visa. I got everything. I got, you know, the university acceptance letter. Then, after maybe one week, one of my teachers just said why don’t you do, like the GX Foundation interview. It’s a charity foundation. After I took the interview, I was one hundred percent sure I was going to China. I just talked to my family members and told them about that. They said that actually it’s good to be in the NGO and it will be a good experience to experience a lot of valuable things. One of the patients, she said that she did accessories but she could not continue to do that because of her eye condition. So, after she got the surgery, she said she will continue to pursue her hobby and sharing this work and project in Mauritania for my local people and my people is actually enough for me.


Every day, the Mauritania Capital Hospital receives 80 to 100 patients for screening. Laiya is involved in every step, from registration, triage to scheduling examination and surgeries for eligible cataract patients. When patients have questions, she listens attentively, takes notes, and then arranges the medical team to follow up. She is actually a bridge connecting the GX Foundation team and the people of Mauritania, a live example of people-to-people connectivity on a daily basis. 


Laiya / Mauritania Project Specialist of GX Foundation 

The ability of sharing is coming from what you can offer to the other people. Actually, according to my religion and culture, the sharing is to share anything that can benefit other human being, even a smile, even a comfort, even a small amount of money or milk, or rice, or sugar, anything that you can afford to another person to help them and make his day. Just to be a human being, because we only share this world. We all have different appearance, different races, different types but we all human beings.

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