A Return From Ethiopia

I am glad to be back home in Kinross after a momentous month in Ethiopia I have found my Re entry has been challenging though as leaving all our friends was tough and I managed to contract Covid somewhere along the way on the journey. That was annoying as its only 5 weeks since my 5th booster.

So much has happened since we were last there. We left in 2020 just as Covid was closing in. For once our friends in Ethiopia were more concerned about us than we were with them. They had all the fears and preparation and separations wrought by Covid but they never really got the disease.

But then when it was almost time for us to go back a vicious war in the north of Ethiopia broke out and we were again prevented from returning. As luck would have it, times have changed, we were able to return and to return to the most joyous reception which was both overwhelming and humbling in equal measure.

Ethiopia Medical Project (EMP) has not been quiet during  the 2 and half years of our absence.

We have secured funding for a Podoconiosis Treatment Centre which we were able to open to great acclaim. Our generous donor wants no publicity which is very unusual in the field.

Then after a tortuous year of bureaucratic confusion, our container finally arrived in Buccama to hysterical reception. This is a story all of its own. A story of incredible generosity by The Malin and Bertling Shipping Companies . Generosity and patience from all concerned. The container reached the Port of Djibouti by Christmas Eve 2021 but the rules of import kept changing.  The team in Ethiopia and the team here  in Scotland lost many many hours sleep from frustration, irritation, anxiety and anger. Eventually as fate would have it, the container arrived 3 days before we did. The Health Centre was determined not to open it until we were there and they had a storage  facility fit for the contents and to manage the distribution of the contents.

When it was finally opened and stored, the contents brought so much excitement and pleasure that it is hard to quantify. The most important things were the Baby Warmer for premature babes, and 2 oxygen generators for seriously ill people and a proper autoclave for sterilising equipment and other vital medical equipment. There was also a computer for each department and many many bandages,  dressings, syringes and assorted medical kit.

But far and away the most dramatic and exciting  things were the 600 pairs of brand new and pretty funky shoes. Given by a London Company, Good News Shoes. Giving new shoes to people who have never had a new thing in their lives is quite a thrill. They do have these little plastic shoes or flip flops, costing virtually nothing and made from recycled tyres. Shoes are vital as part our push to eliminate the foot disease of Podoconiosis and so it was an important and wonderful aspect of our most recent visit.

Our visit this year was greatly enhanced by our latest EMP recruit Bea Sparrow. By some wonderful coincidence Bea was in Ethiopia with her family whilst we were there. She joined us on Saturday October 16th and stayed She settled in quickly and was helpful in every possible way. What an asset she turned out to be and is now a firm friend of Buccama and EMP

One thing that shocked us whilst out there was the incredible rise in the cost of living. Everything had  tripled in price. I am very aware of the our own cost of living crisis here. We are all having to tighten our belts, use our cars less, cut down, cut out and generally watch our pennies. But over there the war on Ukraine means less food for Africa, their own war  and Covid means no foreign visitors and every possible cut back for the poorest people that you can possibly imagine.

Set backs aside, there was also an enormous amount of joy and things to celebrate. The new building meant that plentiful water had to be brought into the Health Centre. Stand pipes abound and so little allotments are springing up all over the place. Carrots, potatoes, cabbage and lettuce are coming on nicely. Bananas are plentiful at this time of year and the Convent is growing its own avocado and coffee trees.

The prolapse mothers and the pregnant mothers are being looked after beautifully and we are truly impressed at the level of loving care being given in both these areas.

But if our history is ever written and the question asked of us “Did you make a difference?” Then the answer would have to be yes a thousand time over for we heard countless tales from people whose foot disease had been reversed and cured. The treatment in the early stages is simple and effective. Soak the feet, wash the feet and encourage the uses of socks and shoes. Simple. Simple but not easy when you don’t even have water, soap socks or shoes. We can provide those things and we do plus the expertise to keep it going three times a week 52 weeks of the year.

With the help of our many supporters we will continue to do this work.

 If you do have anything left over after you have cared for your own, you can always help our efforts either with pants, socks or cash.

Everything goes to the Health Centre.

With thanks

Jo Middlemiss