Hosting Mozambican Medical Students in Saskatoon

Hosting Mozambican Medical Students in Saskatoon

On Sept 10th 2018, Sara Cassambai and Victor Muansinar arrived in Saskatoon after a long, two day journey from Mozambique to spend a month in Saskatoon to learn about the Canadian health care system through a medical observership. Several physicians graciously supervised the students to observe practice in labour and delivery, pediatrics (emergency, inpatient and outpatients), surgery, respiratory services, general practice and the REACH Refugee Health clinic.  Sara and Victor also were able to volunteer their time at the SWITCH clinic and the Saskatoon Food Bank, and were able to tour the Wanuskewin Heritage site with first year medical students.  Our medical students Nick, Kristina and Gabi  generously provided their time as “buddies” to Sara and Victor to show them around Saskatoon, go out for supper and bring them to a few of their classes. A special thanks to Dr. Ron Siemens for hosting these students in his home.

The observership was funded by the Division of Social Accountability to provide a reciprocal exchange opportunity to pay forward the opportunity available to U of S students hosted each year in Mozambique as part of the Making the Links –Certificate in Global Health Certificate.

Sara and Victor left a lasting impression with their big smiles, gentle demeanor, humble appreciation and openness to learn and experience all they could while here. Sara and Victor are due to graduate from the medical degree program at Lúrio University in 2019.

Below are Victor and Sara’s responses to questions about their experience in Saskatoon:

What was your first impression of Saskatoon?

“The biggest highlight of our exchange was the people – Canada certainly makes the stereotype of being the friendliest country in the world. When we landed soon on the way to the residence where we would be hosted, the first thing I learned was Saskatoon is called “the land of living skies.” Today I have a new concept and I am proud to call “Saskatoon the land of good people”.

What have you liked best?

“We lack words to describe what we like most, because it was an exchange with expectations exceeded. Working on community services in Saskatoon bank food and on the SWITCH showed us a different view, college teaches the art of healing but in community service we learned the most beautiful art of life, the love for the next. The SWITCH is a very interesting program [where] we saw students with high social status learn from the lower social class and vice versa. During the four weeks we gained enough knowledge and important things that we could describe each of them in a separate blog. But we will talk about the 3 essential important things though they all were: Community clinic and REACH; Wanuskewin heritage park and [our] accommodation”.



What was the hardest adjustment?

“The climate in Mozambique is tropical and a summer with maximum temperatures of 37 to 41oCelsius degrees, with very cold water and the lighter shirts of our closets we faced the heat suffocated, without notion of the summer that awaited us on the other side of the pearl of the world. To adjust to a summer [in Saskatoon] with temperatures that varied between -3 to 7OC, it was quite difficult. From the cold summer the wise nature showed us in our most difficult setting one of the most wonderful days for us when it snowed for two days, [it] was a very beautiful experience because it was the first time we saw it snowing”.

What was your favorite experience here?

“Our favorite experience was to meet people who even with the language barrier were always willing to pass on knowledge about medical practice and we have no words to express our greatest gratitude”.

“We wondered how much a SWITCH program would be important in our province and convey our greater experience of this exchange to other students in order to help the neediest. Working on SWITCH was the most favorite experience for us, “a man does not change the world but can make the difference” this was the concept we learned in SWITCH”.

What are the biggest differences between the health care system in Canada and the health care system in Mozambique?

“The Canada Health System shares similarities with the Mozambican System because they are divided from primary health care to quaternary care. The major difference lies in the fact that the Canadian systems are built around the principle of equity in which all citizens receive the necessary medical and hospital services (universality) and are treated in the same way (equity) and also by investing more in primary health care, which is not the case in Mozambique where the investments are centered at the quaternary level. We feel honored and privileged to have the opportunity to explore the other side of the world quite different from Mozambique”.

Our greatest gratitude goes to everyone who made this exchange possible. Words are missing to describe our appreciation of gratitude”.