Three Generations’ Friendship with Algeria
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。
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
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.
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