We can tell you all sorts of statistics and strategies about how the Ethiopia Medical Project (EMP) is working in cooperation and partnership with Buccama Clinic. However, everyone relates to a story, and these are the most significant ones of our the 2019 visit. There are many many more. Our primary focus is still the health of Mothers but we are also heavily involved with the care of the Podoconiosis sufferers and the efficient running of the clinic. Their on going needs are for food, medicine, fuel and motor maintenance, stationary, and all the day to day needs of a busy clinic.
Melchius suffered for many years with Mossy Foot (Podoconiosis) He originally got help from the Mossy Foot Foundation, a charity based in America.
Melchius is cured now thanks to the very simple protocol for dealing with podoconiosis. He works tirelessly every day in Buccama Clinic helping, teaching and encouraging the many hundreds that are now coming through the clinic. People are coming from far beyond our jurisdiction with the complete range of Mossy Foot conditions. Some just with swollen feet, some with ugly swellings and some with open wounds and disappearing toes. Melchius is a volunteer but we hope to look after him with shoes and a small remuneration. He asks for nothing.
Worki is a young girl who didn’t quite manage to pass her grade 10 exams. It is a tough education system and if you don’t pass that level you cannot go on. Worki is well named. She is employed in the clinic as a cleaner but I have rarely met a harder worker. She has taken on the Mossy Foot work and demonstrates the cleaning regime and shows no repulsion at some of the sights. She is clever and sporty, a real asset. She is taking extra classes at the weekend to further her education.
Magazi is a man of about 40. He hobbled in supported with a stick and a young son. He showed us the most appalling case of Mossy Foot yet. His feet were hot and swollen and covered in open lesions, bleeding and infected. His ankle joints are virtually locked. He had been to hospital and they offered to amputate both of his feet for the cost of 27000 Ethiopia Birr,£777 which he of course did not have so he refused their offer. After one week here, his feet are far from cured, but they are vastly improved. He was given antibiotics, pain relief, food and some TLC. He is now walking without a stick, has new shoes and socks and understands that he is getting better even though it will be a long process at the end of which, he will still have his feet!
Ankari also came in with a badly swollen ankle. There was a 50p size hole in her leg, a deep abscess infected and oozing and looking like a very bad case of cellulitis. Again a stay in our ward, with daily dressing, antibiotics, pain relief and food she is smiling and on the road to recovery. She had no hope or means of going to hospital.
5) Gomozy and Mirette:
Gomozy is one lady we shall never forget. Her 18 year old daughter carried her into Buccama 3 years ago. She was curled up like a baby because she had taken to her bed so shocked and shamed she was to have a prolapse. Her prolapse was the least of her problems, she had lost the ability to walk. Not really knowing what to do, we thought that massage wouldn’t do any harm. So we started. The prolapse was easy to fix. Meanwhile Mirette the lovely selfless daughter learned the massage techniques and gradually Gomozy learned to walk again. We were delighted and each year Gomozy comes back to see us. This year however, neither Gomozy or Mirette turned up to see us. Just as they were picking up their meager life, growing things and selling cabbages at market, Mirette was attacked and raped on the way home from market. Mirette does not know her attacker but she has a sweet babe to show for it. Now the three of them are struggling to make ends meet and living with the shame of no husband.
6) Zenabi and Freyawat:
Zenabi is a tiny lady who lives near the convent and actually used to work in the convent making bread and injerra. Zinabi has an 18 year old daughter who has never developed normally. We cannot tell if she sees or hears but it would seem from her cries that she is in constant pain. She is globally impaired and is actually a living skeleton. Until Freywat was 15 there was a government grant to assist the family but there is nothing now as she is considered to be an adult. We have never seen the like of the condition of child or the courage of Zenabi. Freyawat is without exaggeration skin and bone as she cannot eat but the Mother cares for her in every possible way including frequent turning and massage in order to avoid pressure sores. She is occasionally admitted to the clinic wards when one breaks through. Otherwise, she is on her own. We were reminded of the Pieta when Zenabi posed for this picture. This woman also keeps a perfect house with flowers growing at her door. We were totally humbled.
Sana is a beautiful 17 year old girl. She came to the Mossy Foot Clinic with one grossly swollen leg and one perfectly normal. She is being mocked at school and for obvious reasons very distressed. Her case is interesting because her mother took her to the hospital a year ago where they x-rayed the leg, found nothing wrong with the bone and sent her home. This shows the level of ignorance even among the medical profession of this condition. It is a disease of poor country people. She too has been shown how to care for her leg including a pressure bandage at night. After only three days we saw a difference so I am imagining that she will do the work to restore it to its normal size.
Desalu is a young and dedicated midwife. He has the gentlest way with patients that I have ever seen. He wants to learn and further his studies whilst helping his family. He has been here for about 6 months and I am guessing that he will move on for further study and advancement. In the meantime Buccama is incredibly lucky to have him here. As an aside, he is the most wonderful dancer!
9) Sister Haimanot:
And finally Sister Haimanot and her team still work with vim and vigour and complete dedication. As many of you know, EMP keeps the Buccama Clinic going by supporting the staff in the form of their salaries. We had to increase the salaries this year in order to maintain staff stability. This EMP can do at the moment but our focus this year has to be on sustainability and continuation of the clinic and our involvement with it.