Our third trip to Buccama proved to be our most profound and inspiring yet.
I have decided to base this review from the angle of three different sets of women, whose lives have crossed, in a way that would have been unimaginable to any of them. It has made me think about the unpredictability of life, but responding to it, and taking chances and opportunities, is what gives life its colour and flavour.
Maureen Burnett and Jo Middlemiss:
We are two Scots who were introduced to the awful prevalence of Uterine
Prolapse * amongst thousands of women, in a small undermanned clinic in the South of Ethiopia. Beatrice Gill, a Swiss nurse, who worked voluntarily in that clinic occasionally and knew the need for support, told us about it several years ago. We travelled there, witnessed the need for ourselves, helped in a small way and returned to Scotland, determined to do more.
Sister Haimanot and Nurse Fellaketch:
They are two stalwart Ethiopian Ladies, devoted and dedicated to helping the mothers who suffer from Uterine Prolapse.
Sister Haimanot runs the clinic, which is there for the local rural community in the district of Wolayta. It deals with the most basic of local problems, inoculation, HIV & AIDS, malaria surges, antenatal work and small injuries.
Nurse Fellaketch is the one who deals exclusively with the Mothers, and it is to her that they flock, knowing that she will help them towards health, through cleanliness, medical care and good nutrition. After that, they will be escorted to hospital, for surgery, if that proves to be necessary. (Another charity picks up the cost of that.)
The Mothers of Buccama:
This is a group of many thousands of women, who have been living with Uterine Prolapse for many years. They are ill, and ashamed of their illness. They hide it from close family and are often rejected or banished, because they cease to be “useful” as workers and wives. We heard endless stories of despair and desperation, before the hope of a cure arose around 6 years ago. The stream of women started as a trickle but
now the clinic has between 150 and 200 women resident, at any one time. They stay on average for about three weeks, although some are there for longer. They receive, help and hygiene, appointments and treatment. They are collected from their villages and returned there, when they are healed. They demonstrate the most amazing resilience, cheerfulness, patience and mutual support to their fellow sufferers.
Ethiopian Medical Project (EMP)
EMP has helped to fund the supply of medicines, food, transport and pessaries. We have also paid for Nurses Fellaketch’s ongoing Professional Development. Thousands of underpants are dispatched, donated by all the people who attend our functions and talks throughout the year. We ask for “Pants and £££££££s”
This year we will continue with all of the above, plus fund another member of staff to assist with the Mothers, a small herd of goats and a cow for the small community. We are also paying for transportation of the women when and if a large bus is required. This year, the clinic is hoping to process 2000 Mothers through the system.
Sister Haimanot keeps a comprehensive record of how our money is spent, and we have absolute trust in her.
One of the reasons why EMP is so successful, we believe, is because we go out there and witness for ourselves the problems and the issues. We roll up our sleeves, don plastic aprons and rubber gloves, learn and do the job. We immerse ourselves in the life of the clinic, the life of the convent, and the lives of the Mothers. We pay all our own expenses.
There is a mutual love and respect, which crosses the boundaries of race, colour, education and age. This is why we are inspired. This is why we cannot give up. This is why we want to thank you, and hope that you can continue to support EMP.
We enclose a short picture annexe.
With many thanks,
Jo Middlemiss and Maureen Burnett.
(*A uterine prolapse – where the womb can become severely damaged, through traumatic childbirth. In severe cases, it can hang outside the body, and become infected, leaving women disfigured, incontinent and shunned by their husbands. They suffer great physical pain and become excluded from society.)