Three Gen­er­a­tions’ Friendship with Al­ge­ria

Special Focus - - Spotlight - By Zhou Zhi­tao, Zheng Yi, Liu Zhenyu, and Sun Ya­jun

My name was given by my grand­fa­ther, so I de­vel­oped a strong re­la­tion­ship with Al­ge­ria from birth.” At noon on July 24, our cor­re­spon­dent met Shen Ali out­side the oper­at­ing room of the Anes­the­si­ol­ogy Depart­ment of the Yingcheng Hospital of TCM in Xiao­gan, Hubei Prov­ince. The 38-year-old anes­the­si­ol­o­gist had just fin­ished his fourth oper­a­tion of that day, his back soaked with sweat.

Re­cently, at the pro­mo­tion event held by the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs pre­sent­ing Cen­tral China’s Hubei Prov­ince, the story of Shen Ali’s fam­ily was told far and wide, as three gen­er­a­tions from his fam­ily were in­volved in pro­vid­ing med­i­cal as­sis­tance to Al­ge­ria, as a demon­stra­tion of the friend­ship be­tween the two coun­tries. One in­ter­view re­ported that Shen Ali’s fam­ily, which in­cluded his grandpa Shen Dong­sheng, his un­cle Shen Hongx­ing, and him­self, had been par­tic­i­pat­ing in the aid pro­gram for nearly 40 years since 1979. In to­tal, they had par­tic­i­pated in seven med­i­cal aid teams from Hubei. With the three gen­er­a­tions’ re­lay as­sis­tance to Africa came warmth and love from an or­di­nary fam­ily.

Pride of the Fam­ily

In Shen Ali’s mo­bile phone were kept many pho­tos taken by Shen Dong­sheng, his grand­fa­ther. Though a lit­tle faded and yel­low­ing, we can still see how Shen Dong­sheng spent his life in Al­ge­ria.

In 1979, Shen Dong­sheng, an anes­the­si­ol­o­gist at the Anes­the­si­ol­ogy Depart­ment of Xiao­gan Cen­tral Hospital, was dis­patched by the Hubei Provin­cial Health Plan­ning Com­mis­sion to Al­ge­ria. Far away from China and feel­ing homesick, he sent letters to his fam­ily al­most ev­ery month.

Shen Hongx­ing, Shen Ali’s un­cle, still re­mem­bered read­ing the let­ter to his mother ev­ery time they came. Some­times, a pic­ture of his fa­ther was en­closed, re­veal­ing scenes of his fa­ther work­ing in hospital, or walk­ing in the lo­cal streets and farms.

At that time, Shen Hongx­ing

“我的名字是爷爷取的,一出生就注定了我和阿尔及利亚的缘分。”7 月 24 日中午,记者在湖北孝感应城市中医院麻醉科手术室外,见到 38岁的麻醉科医生沈阿利时,他刚完成当天的第四台手术,衣服后背已经湿透。

近日,湖北全球推介会上,沈阿利一家三代在阿尔及利亚接力从事医疗援助的事迹,作为中非友谊的见证被推介。记者采访了解到,从 1979年爷爷沈冬升参与援非,到二叔沈红星,再到沈阿利,沈阿利一家三代援非跨越近 40 年,共参加 7批(次)湖北援非医疗队工作。三代人接力援非背后,是一个普通家庭的温情与大爱。


在沈阿利的手机里,翻拍有很 多爷爷沈冬升留下的照片。泛黄模糊的老照片上,依稀能看清沈冬升在阿尔及利亚工作、生活的场景。

1979 年,时任孝感市中心医院麻醉科医生的沈冬升,受湖北省卫计委派遣,远赴北非阿尔及利亚。远离故土,思念家人,他几乎每个月都会往家里邮寄家书。

沈阿利的叔叔沈红星回忆,每次都是他负责把信念给母亲听。有时,信里会夹带一张父亲的照片,有医院工作的场景,也有在当地街头、农场的照片。当时,沈红星兄弟三人和母亲住在应城白杨村老家,村里相片并不多见,非洲的样子大家更是没有见过。村里的乡亲们听说沈冬升从非洲寄信回来了,都会围过来看,称赞道:“老沈真厉害 ,为国争光了!”

沈红星说,听到乡亲们的赞扬, 一家人脸上都浮现自豪的笑容。

1980 年,正在阿尔及利亚参加援非医疗队工作的沈冬升,得知孙儿出生,便给他取名“沈阿利”。爷爷回国后,经常跟沈阿利讲起自己在阿尔及利亚的经历。“在爷爷的影响下,我从小就立志当一名医生。”沈阿利告诉记者,小时候的他,经常在医院观察护士的工作,身边的小伙伴受伤了,他还能进行简单的包扎。




lived with his broth­ers and mother in Baiyang Vil­lage in Yingcheng. Pho­tos were still a rar­ity in the vil­lage, and Africa was nei­ther heard of nor seen by any of the lo­cals. So, when the letters ar­rived, vil­lagers would all swarm into his house and have a look at them, say­ing, “Old Shen is bril­liant. He wins glory for our coun­try and home­town!” The praises from vil­lagers made his fam­ily very proud at that time.

In 1980, while work­ing in Al­ge­ria, Shen Dong­sheng got the news of his grand­son’s birth and im­me­di­ately named him Shen Ali, as “Ali” is kind of an ab­bre­vi­a­tion of Al­ge­ria in Chi­nese. After re­turn­ing to China, Grandpa of­ten told Shen Ali the sto­ries of his ex­pe­ri­ences in Al­ge­ria. “Un­der the in­flu­ence of my grand­fa­ther, I de­cided to be­come a doc­tor at an early age.” Shen Ali told us that when he was a child, he of­ten ob­served how the nurses worked in hos­pi­tals. So, when his play­mates were in­jured, he could per­form sim­ple med­i­cal treat­ments for them.

Build­ing a Steamer in the Desert

In 1987, Xiao­gan Cen­tral Hospital was told to send a chef to work for the Hubei Med­i­cal Aid Team in Africa. Shen Hongx­ing, a chef for the hospital at the time, was a lit­tle tempted. His fa­ther then en­cour­aged him, say­ing “A chef pro­vides lo­gis­tics sup­port for the med­i­cal team and is very im­por­tant to the team.”

The hospital then rec­om­mended Shen Hongx­ing to work in Africa. Since he was a good cook who could pre­pare a va­ri­ety of dishes, the doc­tors in the team were all happy with him.

When he ar­rived in Al­ge­ria for the first time, he was in­ex­pe­ri­enced and didn’t bring many cook­ing uten­sils. There was flour but no steam­ers to make buns. Shen Hongx­ing made a grid by us­ing wire, and then put the grid on the pan, mak­ing it serve as a steamer, which suc­cess­fully steamed buns. When mut­ton was


初到阿尔及利亚,因为没有经验,带的炊具不够,有面粉却没有 蒸锅做包子,沈红星就用钢丝扎成格网,架在锅上蒸包子。有羊肉却没有炊具做火锅,他就用电饭锅改装成火锅。

当地人吃得最多的就是土豆泥和面包,时间一长,许多队员脸颊消瘦。沈红星除了变着花样烹饪土豆、胡萝卜等蔬菜,还抽空在驻地开辟菜园子,种起了小白菜、莴苣、苦瓜。听说离驻地 60公里外的水库有淡水鱼,他和年轻队员带着一瓶水和几根黄瓜去捕鱼,大半天就捞起来几百斤大鱼。

1987 年至 2016 年,沈红星先后五次随队奔赴阿尔及利亚。

恩施州中医院的医生谭奎, 2010年曾和沈红星一起到阿尔及利亚。据谭奎回忆,沈师傅可以一个星期做早餐不重样,无论队员们什么时候回到驻地,都能吃到热饭 菜。曾有一名队员犯了胃病,他每天将熬成糊的稀饭送到这位队员面前,一熬就是几个月。在异国他乡,每逢队员生日,沈师傅都会专门准备一碗手擀长寿面,让队员们倍感温暖。



2015 年 2 月,沈阿利和来自全省各地的 80多名援非医生一起去了阿尔及利亚。沈阿利驻扎在距离首都阿尔及尔 300 公里的地亚雷特省妇产医院,每天接诊最多的就是产妇。

avail­able yet hot pots were not, he made it with a rice cooker.

In Al­ge­ria mashed po­tato and bread were daily meals for the lo­cals. The mo­not­o­nous diet caused many team mem­bers to be­come pale and thin­ner. So, while cook­ing pota­toes, car­rots, and other veg­eta­bles in a va­ri­ety of ways, Shen Hongx­ing set up a veg­etable gar­den in the sta­tion, where he planted cab­bage, let­tuce and bit­ter gourd. Hav­ing heard there were fish in the reser­voir 60 kilo­me­ters away from the sta­tion, he de­cided to go fish­ing with some young fel­lows, tak­ing only a bot­tle of wa­ter and a few cu­cum­bers. It was not long be­fore they got hun­dreds of pounds of big fish.

From 1987 to 2016, Shen Hongx­ing went to Al­ge­ria five times with the med­i­cal team.

Tan Kui, a doc­tor at En­shi Hospital of TCM, went to Al­ge­ria with Shen Hongx­ing in 2010. He re­mem­bered that Chef Shen was ca­pa­ble of mak­ing a dif­fer­ent break­fast ev­ery day of the week. When­ever they re­turned to the sta­tion from work, they were al­ways served hot meals. Shen heard a doc­tor suf­fer­ing from stomach ail­ment, so he pre­pared por­ridge for him for sev­eral months. When cel­e­brat­ing some­one’s birth­day, Chef Shen would al­ways pre­pare a bowl of hand- made “longevity noo­dles,” which of­fered a bit of warmth to the team mem­bers in this for­eign land.

More than a Thou­sand Op­er­a­tions in Two Years

As a child, Shen Ali heard a lot of sto­ries about Chi­nese doc­tors in Africa while on his grand­fa­ther’s lap. Grow­ing up, he heard more sto­ries from his un­cle about his fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and veg­eta­bles grown in Africa. All of th­ese sto­ries had cre­ated in Shen Ali a dream of fol­low­ing his grand­fa­ther and his un­cle’s foot­steps to Africa.

In Fe­bru­ary 2015, Shen Ali went to Al­ge­ria with more than 80 doc­tors from all over the prov­ince. He was sta­tioned in Tiaret Provin­cial Ma­ter­nity Hospital, which was 300 kilo­me­ters from the cap­i­tal, Al­giers. Most of his pa­tients were ex­pec­tant moth­ers.

刚到医院不久,沈阿利就碰到一个高危产妇:一名 30多岁的妇女在附近一家医院剖宫产后,出现大出血,被紧急转送至地亚雷特省妇产医院。当时这名妇女已经面色苍白,处于休克状态,主治医生研究后决定为她切除子宫。手术前对产妇使用麻醉,种类如何选择、剂量如何控制,都考验着沈阿利。最终,他沉着冷静地参与完成了手术。

当地医生紧缺,尤其是麻醉科医生,更是稀少。工作中,沈阿利常常会跟当地的医生交流分享手术技巧。比如,一种名叫连硬外麻醉 的局部麻醉技术,在当地医生看来,操作非常繁琐。沈阿利耐心地分解了手术环节,示范并讲解自己的操作手法,将技术无偿地分享给当地医生,当地医生因此常常把沈阿利和队员们请到家中做客。

“有时候走在医院附近的街上,会遇到很多不认识的人,他们看我是中国医生,就会笑着伸出大拇指。”沈阿利介绍,当地的居民非常热情,听他们说得最多的是“麦丝果果”(非常感谢),经常有家属将亲手做的古斯古斯(当地一种宴请重要客人的特色食品)送到医院, 表示谢意。


记者了解到,刚刚回国一年多的沈阿利,已报名参加第 26 批援非医疗队,他希望能有机会再次踏上非洲那片热土。(沈阿利供图)

Shortly after ar­riv­ing at the hospital, Shen Ali re­ceived a high- risk mother: a woman in her 30s who had ma­jor bleed­ing after a ce­sarean sec­tion in a hospital nearby. She was ur­gently trans­ferred to Tiaret Ma­ter­nity Hospital. When Shen Ali saw her, the woman was pale and in a state of shock. After con­sid­er­a­tion and dis­cus­sions, the at­tend­ing doc­tor de­cided to re­move her uterus. Shen Ali was the one re­spon­si­ble for ap­ply­ing anes­the­sia be­fore surgery, choos­ing the right type of anes­the­sia and giv­ing the right dose. With calm and com­po­sure, he com­pleted his duty with suc­cess.

In Al­ge­ria, there was a se­vere short­age of doc­tors, es­pe­cially anes­the­si­ol­o­gists. At work, Shen Ali was al­ways happy to ex­change sur­gi­cal skills with lo­cal doc­tors. For ex­am­ple, epidu­ral anes­the­sia, a lo­cal anes­the­sia tech­nique, was con­sid­ered very com­pli­cated and dif­fi­cult by lo­cal doc­tors. Shen Ali pa­tiently broke down the sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure into mul­ti­ple steps, demon­strated it to them, and ex­plained his own oper­a­tion skills. He shared this with lo­cal doc­tors with­out reser­va­tion. Due to his kind­ness and pa­tience, lo­cal doc­tors of­ten in­vited Shen Ali and med­i­cal team mem­bers to their homes as guests.

“Some­times when I was walk­ing on the street near the hospital, I would meet many peo­ple I didn’t know, who would smile to me and give me a thumbs-up when they rec­og­nized me as a Chi­nese doc­tor.” Shen Ali said that the lo­cals were very en­thu­si­as­tic and al­ways ex­pressed a lot of gratitude to doc­tors in their lo­cal lan­guage. And very of­ten pa­tients’ fam­i­lies would bring hand- made cous­cous ( a lo­cal spe­cialty food for im­por­tant guests) to the hospital to ex­press their gratitude to the team.

Dur­ing the two years in Africa, Shen Ali en­coun­tered crit­i­cally ill ex­pec­tant women al­most ev­ery day, up to three cases in one day on some oc­ca­sions. He also re­ceived other trans­ferred pa­tients with se­vere con­di­tions, such as ges­ta­tional hy­per­ten­sion com­bined with eclamp­sia, or pos­tural syn­drome. He per­formed anes­the­sia for more than a thou­sand op­er­a­tions in two years with­out a sin­gle med­i­cal in­ci­dent.

It was learned that Shen Ali had signed up for the 26th batch of the med­i­cal aid team after re­turn­ing to China just more than one year ago. He is look­ing for­ward to set­ting foot on the vast land of Africa again.

(Pho­tos cour­tesy of Shen Ali. Trans­la­tion: Lu Qiongyao)

Shen Dong­sheng on the way to Al­ge­ria 沈冬升在援非路上

Shen Hongx­ing with his Al­ge­rian doc­tor friends 沈红星与当地医生结下深厚友谊

沈红星为客人烹制可口的菜肴Shen Hongx­ing cooked var­i­ous de­li­cious dishes for the lo­cal friends

Shen Ali just fin­ished an anes­the­sia 刚做完麻醉手术的沈阿利

沈阿利和爷爷 Shen Ali with his grandpa Shen Dong­sheng

Shen Ali and lo­cal chil­dren in Al­ge­ria 沈阿利在阿尔及利亚与当地孩子合影

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