Jill first arrived in Senegal in January of 2009 when she went with a group of student midwives to the rural Village of Kafountine. Nothing could have prepared her for the conditions she witnessed in Senegal such as impoverishment among the people and an insufficient health care system.
Loaded with suitcases full of medical supplies, Jill was truly dedicated and focused on her mission—holding a clear vision of assisting women with their needs in pregnancy, throughout labor, and after.
A few days after her arrival, Jill began her work at the maternity clinic in Kafountine. This is where Jill and Atab met for the first time. She didn’t know this would change her life forever; she didn’t know she had just met her future husband.
It was an early morning, and Jill walked over to the maternity clinic, on the same grounds as the Kafountine Hospital, with two newborn babies, one in each arm, taking them for a routine Vitamin K injection. Atab was giving injections that day, and although they could barely speak a word of one another’s languages, they understood each other well. From then on, Atab asked Jill, most every day, if she could assist him. If she was not busy with birth, she would. While working with Atab, Jill saw, first hand, the hardships and difficulties Atab faced providing medical care with little or no medical supplies.
When Jill left Senegal for the first time, she gave Atab her blood-pressure cuff and stethoscope as a gift. Joy overcame him as he had not had a new one in nearly eight years.
It was after the first trip to Senegal that Jill quickly realized that there was a serious need for birthing assistance, supplies and medical education in Kafountine. She learned it was not unusual to run out of the simplest medical supplies for months at a time…such as sterile gloves, gauze, suturing materials, antibiotics and other necessary medications, which there is currently still a continuous shortage of.
Jill has been working with Atab and his patients since they met in 2009. She also provides donated medical supplies for the Kafountine Hospital and Maternity Clinic that she collects during her fund-raising visits in the United States. Jill’s first experience inspired both she and Atab, together, to begin The Senegal Health Institute.
Jill and Atab are deeply committed to one another and their conjoined and inspired calling; nurturing the continuing growth of The Senegal Health Institute—committed to bringing a stable health care system to Kafountine and nearby townships, where currently, there is no healthcare stability.
Jill and Atab were married in Ziguinchor, Senegal, and at Pebble Beach, California in 2011.