Utahns Bring Aid to Ouelessebougou People

Utahns Bring Aid to Ouelessebougou People

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Coco Warner reportingAt a time of year when a lot of us will be travelling to meet with our families, some Utahns are heading to other countries, to be with adopted families.

They're part of a non-profit group that brings humanitarian and medical aid to West Africa.

Tearful goodbyes or even tearful hellos are a common sight at the airport right now. So many people coming and going.

But this group of travelers is making a different kind of trip, one to the West African area called Oulessebougou.

Martha Ethington/Ouelessebougou-Utah Alliance: "This year we have four trips of medical and educational specialists going-- we usually go bewteen November and February and a couple of them are kind of linking it up with their Christmas celebration and kind of having a holiday celebration where they're involved in humanitarian service."

This non-profit group has been visiting West Africa for nearly 20-years. The alliance focuses on helping residents there become self-sufficient in areas of water supply, agriculture and education. And those who are making the trip can't think of a better way to spend the holidays.

"We actually arrive about 3:30 Christmas morning, so I don't think we're going to be getting a lot of Christmas celebration."

The alliance also sponsors a medical team, and for Doctor Fillerup, that means leaving her practice here and heading to Africa for a week."

This will be Dr. Sharon Fillerup's 2nd trip to Ouelessebougou. She's leaving in a few days with another Utah doctor, an anaesthesiologist and several nurses.

Dr. Sharon L. Fillerup/OB-GYN: "We start at 7 o clock in the morning, we walk to the medical compound, what we'll do is about 4 or 5 surgeries a day... "

Most of the surgeries result from difficult childbirths.

And if the accomodations ever seem rustic or the days long, Dr. Fillerup says the needs of the people there keep it all in perspective.

Dr. Sharon L. Fillerup/OB-GYN: "I was waiting for the next patient to come in and she crawled in, she crawled in... and it was all I could do to just sit there and not get up to help her, but because of the table and that-- the translator got up and helped her get up in the chair, but it made me start to see Africa through different eyes."

These trips, for sure, are a holiday gift to the citizens of this rural West African nation. But, it may be an even greater gift to the people who travel there.

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