Our arrival in Addis Ababa, in mid February 2017 was, as ever, greeted with warmth and support. However, we were happy to finally stop lugging the 92 KGs of clothes and medical supplies, we had carefully assembled over the year in Scotland, through airports and get it to the point of need at the clinic.
Our arrival in Buccama, a long dusty, six hours journey South, was a different matter altogether. Outriders met us at the sign for the clinic. Their horn beeping was the signal for the singing and dancing to start in earnest, as they escorted us for our first sighting of the Clinic extension, which EMP had proudly funded from our 2016 fund raising efforts.
Amid all the turmoil, the new building did not disappoint. We were amazed at the standard of building, and just how attractively it sat within the site. Trees and flowers had been planted around it, making it a very pleasant place to recover in.
We saw first hand the splendid beds and sanitary installation towards which Rotary Clubs in the East of Scotland had generously donated. Because of this, up to 20 additional patients can now be looked after professionally in the clinic, as in-patients, and with the best of equipment.
The ceremony for the inauguration and blessing of the building was held on 3rd March. What a day that was- with wide attendance from Dignitaries, Sisters from all over Ethiopia, plus all the local people, who had worked so hard to make it their own. It was to be a whole day of singing, dancing, speeches and eating. The feeding of the 5000 comes to mind, although in truth it was only 1000. Quite a feat, when you consider no electricity, no huge ovens, and no official caterers, except the woman who was brought in to cook the specially slaughtered bull!
That done, the clinic got back down to its normal work, and Maureen and I reintroduced ourselves to our original purpose, of seeing and dealing with the Mothers with Uterine Prolapses. One tremendous bit of progress is that Government officials are now stating that women’s health, especially this condition, is no longer to be ignored.
Our daily education slots were well attended by pregnant women, and well women, as well as the in- patients. Sisters and friends are now aware of what a “Barca” is (as they call it) and that it can be fairly easily remedied, thus making their lives liveable once more. We are very grateful to SCIAF for making a big difference in this area with their discretionary grant in 2016.
We visited, and gave small donations to our 7 selected pensioners in the area, at the bottom end of the poverty table, funded by Michael’s House, a wonderful charity in the USA, who help care for the elderly and the destitute. (www.michaels-house.org)
As well as working in the clinic, we tried to walk for an hour each evening, when it is slightly cooler. This year seemed hotter, dirtier and dustier than ever before – no rains. Going out into the country side is a further eye opener. We see absolute poverty at first hand, and even the better off are still sleeping on an earth floor, with a cow in the side room. Very, very basic living. If we are accompanied by one of the sisters or Fellaketch, our nurse, the circle of followers is not so intense. If we were to go out on our own, we are just too interesting and white faced, different –“Ferringhi”- not to be stared at by the children, and sadly they have learned the hand out “money, money” habit. The absolute dignity of the elderly men, and women, living well below our “breadline”, struck us again and again. It is hard not to feel helpless in the face of it all.
What would you say to the little mother using basic crutches to support her withered legs? Her two year old, Sammi, is her helper and protector! What would you do about the cleaner, who carries her 15 year old profoundly handicapped daughter around on her back? How would you help the woman whose only need is warfarin after suffering a DVT, but there isn’t any warfarin in Wolayta? How about the salaries of the dedicated staff? What about transportation? How do you deal with people who say “Mission impossible”, or “It’s really not my problem”? We always have plenty of time to contemplate these things, while we are there. We dream big dreams and believe that faith really can move mountains. It can- we have the proof. The experience of living here for a month is over for another year- our 7th– but the hard work begins again now we are back.
A HUGE THANK YOU TO ALL OUR COUNTLESS SUPPORTERS, FAMILIES AND FRIENDS FOR YOUR GENEROSITY OF HEART AND WALLET!
JO MIDDLEMISS AND MAUREEN BURNETT
CO-FOUNDERS OF THE ETHIOPIAN MEDICAL PROJECT – EMP. SCO 44172