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Doctor gains fulfillment through Algerian stint

By Aybek Askhar in Beijing and Zhou Lihua in Wuhan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-23 09:48
Li Li poses with some of her Algerian colleagues and patients for a photo at the Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire de Setif in Algeria. [Photo/China Daily]

The gynecologist is positive that work abroad will help her get through bad days

As a member of a Chinese medical team in Algeria, gynecologist Li Li completed 10,750 outpatient clinic services and 1,608 cesarean sections.

Now that the 48-year-old has returned home after two years of hard work, she still feels delighted talking about her journey to the west. Unlike monk Sanzang's adventure in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) to seek the truth, Li's experience in Algeria was more about helping and caring.

Before she went on her stint in Algeria, Li had never been abroad. She was born in the city of Xiangyang, Hubei province, and still lives and works there.

Growing up in a family of teachers, Li was taught to be a helpful person and so after graduating from high school, she accepted an offer from a medical school without any hesitation.

Li said she did not expect she would be able to use her specialized skills one day while she was a student studying medicine and that these skills could give her the ability to serve in a developing country in a way that many others could not.

After graduation, the then-22-year-old was recruited to work at the Xiangyang Woman's and Children's Hospital and became a gynecologist. Over the next 20 years, Li worked assiduously for the hospital, but also had a lot of stress and pain at the same time. She raised her daughter on her own after her divorce.

"I raised my daughter alone, and that was probably the most difficult time of my life," Li said.

"Maintaining a balance between work and family requires tremendous energy and determination, but I had to keep going no matter what.

"My job is to bring hope to families welcoming new members, and I kept reminding myself that I could do the same for my family too."

In 2014, Li's daughter was admitted into a local university, and that news was a great relief for her. From then on, Li decided to live a different life, so she turned her attention to a medical assistance program launched by the government half a century ago.

It has been a long time since Chinese doctors started providing medical services to patients in Algeria. Since two years after Algeria's independence from France in 1962, China has been dispatching medical teams to the country to provide medical care for its people, and hospitals from Hubei province were the first to join the program.

Some of Li's colleagues had been to Algeria before, and she was interested in working abroad after talking to them. For every doctor who had been there, it seemed that the two-year service had left unforgettable memories, and almost everyone told Li that she should take up the challenge.

"My willingness to go to Africa was more of a professional complex. A senior doctor whom I admire went to Algeria many years ago, and he shared a lot of fascinating experiences with me at a meeting. From then on, the idea of working and living abroad was like a seed sprouting in my heart," she said.

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