Who? Ruben Vorderman, Master’s student Biology
What? Internship, monitoring dengue mosquito (Aedes aegypti)
Where? In Paramaribo and Nieuw Nickerie, Suriname
I spent a couple of months researching the dengue mosquito (Aedes aegypti); this mosquito spreads dengue (breakbone fever), an illness that can be fatal. What’s more, while I was doing my internship, a chikungunya epidemic was sweeping South America, spread by the same mosquito. Chikungunya causes painful joints and can last for months.
I helped to make and place traps for eggs and to count the mosquito’s eggs. All with the aim of establishing the density of the mosquito population. In Nieuw Nickerie I also studied the resistance of mosquitoes (larvae and adults) to pesticides.
In addition, I helped set up a geo-information system. This enabled us to get an overview of the various locations and mosquito populations. It was a challenge as I’d never worked with GIS before. We eventually managed to set up a system running software that is freely available. A nice alternative to the GIS programme that is typically used and costs 1500 dollars per computer (three to four months’ pay for a Surinamese).
Suriname has very beautiful nature and still has a lot of tropical rainforest. What I really loved was that there were iguanas in the back garden and geckos in my house. I have to say it is very hot there. In the first couple of weeks you feel wretched and you sweat like a pig. After a few weeks I wasn’t bothered by the heat any more. The people in Suriname are really friendly and hospitable. For example, a colleague invited me to celebrate Easter weekend there. I am still very grateful to him for that, because obviously my own family weren’t with me. What’s more, I can highly recommend Surinamese food. Actually, Suriname has three cuisines: Javanese, Hindustani and Creole. In addition, the Chinese immigrants brought their own cuisine to Suriname. So there is something for everyone. Another advantage of Suriname is that almost everyone speaks Dutch. So if you want to go to a beautiful country without a significant language barrier, I can really recommend Suriname.’