Sunday, 9 September 2012

Goodbye Ethiopia

So it is our last day finally.  The week was eventful with a trip to the Fistula Clinic, a healing service and the Donkey Sanctuary.  Funnily enough it took a long while to pack – we have spread ourselves out over the weeks.

It has been a great experience and we have really enjoyed ourselves and hopefully left behind some good memories for the children, teachers and Dawit too.  It is hard work for him I am sure, answering questions, sorting out our problems and making sure we are happy.  This is on top of his usual pressing tasks.  So a big thanks to him also.

However much we have enjoyed our experience in Ethiopia, we can’t help but feel excited about our next adventure in the Sudan!

Watch out for the next blog and if you have enjoyed reading this then feel free to look at my other blogs.

Here is the link to my blog about teaching in government Schools in The Sudan.

Our year teaching in government schools in the Republic of Georgia (former Soviet Union).

Walking the Camino Ingles – the English route of the Camino de Santiago de Compostella including details of our time walking the Camino Portuguese and Camino Frances.

The Fistula Hospital

Click here for the website to the Fistula Hospital

Fran the other volunteer plans to do her undergraduate dissertation on attitudes to Fistula and so we went and visited the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis for some background information and for her to make some contacts. I had heard about Fistula before this.  In the Catholic Women’s League we regularly donated money to an African Hospital – can’t remember which one.  When I first heard about this problem it struck me how for very little money you can truly change someone’s life.  Some of these women sit in a hut outside, away from everyone else, in their own mess, to such an extent that they cannot walk as their muscles and tendons atrophy.  How awful.

There is some amazing work done by people, like you, in this country and I am just trying to share with you what I have seen.

The most devastating of all childbirth injuries
An obstetric fistula develops when the blood supply to the tissues of the vagina and bladder (and/or rectum) is cut off during prolonged, obstructed labour. The tissues die and a hole forms through which urine and/or faeces pass uncontrollably. Women who develop fistulae are often abandoned by their husbands, rejected by their communities and forced to live an isolated existence.

More than two million women live with fistula
Eradicated in the “developed” world at the end of the 19th century when caesarean section became widely available, obstetric fistula continues to plague women throughout the developing world. It is estimated that there are 100,000 new fistula cases each year, but the capacity to treat fistula is only around 6,500 per year. The United Nations Population fund (UNFPA) estimates the world’s population of fistula sufferers at more than two million.

Nerve damage and psychological trauma
The WHO has called fistula “the single most dramatic aftermath of neglected childbirth”. In addition to incontinence, a fistula victim may also have nerve damage affecting their ankles and feet. If a woman lies on her mat for a prolonged period of time, waiting for the urine to dry, she may also develop contractions of the joints of her legs, as her muscles and tendons shorten from lack of use, and be unable to walk. Fistula victims also suffer profound psychological trauma resulting from their utter loss of status and dignity.

This hospital was started in 1974 by two doctors – Reginald and Catherine Hamlin and it has grown today into  a large concern with outreach centres in 5 locations, a residential village and training for midwives, now having treated over 30,000 with a success rate of over  90%.  Even Oprah has donated money for a rehabilitation wing.

This link is to the autobiography of one of the founders Dr Catherine Hamlin.

                                       Link to the Webpage for this book on Amazon

The Healing Service

We had been watching a programme on the TV that was the coverage of a big healing service that was somewhere in Africa.  It was a huge event and we saw a lot of people being healed.  It was fascinating because it was so dramatic and un-English.  The problems were perhaps the same; priest who has bad knees tot eh extent that he cannot go to the toilet unaided; woman who doesn’t love her husband and has no feelings towards him but it was very dramatic.  Bandages were waved about, woman now relaxed and happy next to her non-communicative husband.

I asked Dawit if he thought these were genuine and he said he did.  This prompted a big discussion about the whole topic – is it made up? People believe anything etc.  But we were all intrigued and said that we would like to go to a healing service.  So Dawit arranged for us to go to one.

It started at 2 and for the first hour or so there was a lot of singing and prayer.  It was all in Amharic and so we couldn’t understand what we being said but we just thought about things in our own way.  Dawit translated as best he could and I whispered into the ear of Martin and then whispered to Fran.  After a long while, Martin nipped out for a fag and so missed the entrance of the leader himself.  He was a charismatic and commanding figure and he started to prophesise straight away.  “There is someone who can’t sit still and has a problem with cigarettes”.  Dawit translated for me.  “Is that Martin?!”  I said “It sounds like it” said Dawit “Did you tell him?” I asked - was my first thought as Dawit had been on a prayer retreat the previous week.  It seemed incredible that he would choose Martin but Dawit insisted that he had said nothing. 

Martin was called back and stood up in front of the crowd.  It was a rabbit in the headlines moment.  Dawit translated.  “How are you feeling?”  The man asked “Here?”  He pointed to his heart.  “Fine.“ said Martin with a self-conscious giggle.  “You have an addiction to smoking” the man continued. “In 2 years 3 months you will have a big operation.  You will have a scar from here to here.”  He made an imaginary cut from the top of his chest to his stomach.  “I can pray with you and deliver of your addiction” He said.  Martin clearly didn’t know what to do or say to this and the man told him to “sit down and pray to be open to God” and so that’s what he did. 

With Martin sat down, the man continued, and a long list of people came up and were healed.  Someone stood up and was trying to edge out of the room, but like the unwitting target of the man going to the toilet during a stand-up comic’s act, the man pounced on him and told him about his business problems and a man named …… and so he got a healing as well.  After another couple of hours Martin dared to go outside for another cigarette and meanwhile the prophecies and healings continued.  I have been to a number of healing services and they are mostly like this but this is Africa and there is a heavy dependence of witchcraft and there were a lot of people with problems related to their involvement.

Towards the end people were called up for healing of sickness so I went up and asked for a healing for my arthritis and Dawit went up for a pain in his chest.  As I said I have been to a number of healing services like this and was not fazed at all by people crying and falling over.  But what was different was that he used a mike and did a lot of blowing out of air which sounds really loud through a mike and he poked people’s stomachs.  He did this to me and also gave a little slap on my chest, just below my throat and blew on my face which is kind of startling.

We had been there for 6 hours and most people had been prayed for we were waiting for him to return to Martin.  Finally he said that he hadn’t prayed for him because he went out for a smoke and was not listening to the message.  He then then called out to him “God loves you and he has saved you for many car accidents.”  Martin then says “Oh yes that’s true – we were in a near miss accident just after arriving in Ethiopia!”  However Martin had made his choice and so we left, all feeling a little strange and made our way back in record time from Addis to Nasret and were very quiet in the car.
I wold like to say that I woke up with no pain in my hands the next morning but that wasn’t the case.  However, I have reduced the steroids by half and am only taking one other painkiller instead of three with no difference in the pain level so maybe it is just a matter of time.  I don’t know how these things work!

Martin had his last cigarette outside our hotel room that night and he has not smoked since, that’s 6 days.

 So please keep us both in your thoughts and prayers x

The Donkey Sanctuary

We are going on a school trip to the Donkey Sanctuary
Fran had visited the Donkey Sanctuary the previous week and so we decided that this would be a fitting location for the Summer School Trip for the Grade school student as it wasn’t too far away, was educational and me and Martin hadn’t seen it!

The Donkey Sanctuary is part of the University of Addis Ababa veterinary department and was founded by an English vet with its purpose to treat and care for sick donkeys.  Donkeys and horses are widely used in Ethiopia as beasts of burden and their care is neglected through lack of education by their owners.  The sanctuary has a surgery and runs a day clinic where people can bring their donkeys and horses for medical treatment.

The children were very excited about going on a trip and for some, it was the first time they had been out of Nasret.  The day was a great success and Dawit and Stephanie plan to invite the Sactuary’s school visiting project to come and work with the children at the school in the future. 

Some of the donkeys being treated; the one in the front got bitten by a hyena.
A brilliant picture and yes the donkey is doing what you think it is!

Donkey Ambulance
Wall poster - education room
Wall poster -  education room
Operating Theatre

Retrieved form the insides of animals

Wormy things that donkeys may have
Fascinated Children
Here we all are!

A van full of happy kids

The Goodbyes Begin!

Grinding the Coffee for the ceremony
Welcome to the coffee ceremony
In we go with Seble throwing home made confetti over us!
Getting ready for some nice coffee!
The teachers were preparing for the coffee ceremony in the nursery as the last of the children left and so it was a nice surprise for us to find everything ready.

It was lovely to all sit together to say goodbye.  We got to know some of the teachers better than others as teachers worked in particular classes and also not all the teachers came to English / computer classes.  But it was a lovely ending on that Friday afternoon.

Next week we will only teach the language-only class but are continuing with the now combined Computer-English lessons with the teachers.  In fact we are taking them to the Dire Hotel  on Sunday (pronounced deer-ray haha) to show them how to use email and search on the internet.

More confetti!
Making the coffee

Coffee, Popcorn and bread!

Gold Silver Bronze and Goodbye!

We hoped that we would be able to finish the Long Jump, High Jump and shot put the next day and then do the medal giving and play some party games but we were far too optimistic!  Firstly, it was pouring with rain again and so we went to the Grade School first and then to the KG school by which time the rain had still not stopped.  So we went straight for the ceremony!

My big classroom was set up with chairs at one end and a low stool, medium chair and higher chair were arranged Olympic style for the medal giving.  An Ethiopian flag was produced and three of the older girls were chosen to be medal carriers.  We were waiting for one of the teachers to return with the biscuits so there was a bit of a delay in starting and the children were really good, just sitting there patiently, even the 2 year olds! 

This was a good opportunity to let everyone see the pictures from the day before and so I walked round with my laptop and the pictures on slideshow with some rousing music playing that we had dug up – The Final Countdown (doo-doo-loo-doo-doo), ‘We are Young’.  It was the best we could do under such short notice haha!  It was a nice touch and it went down well.

Showing the children pictures of the races from the day before
They thought it was great!
The ceremony opened with the children singing the Ethiopian National anthem and the stage was set.

Singing the National Anthem
Names were called, children stood on chairs, Martin shook hands and placed medals over heads and Fran kissed and wrapped the flag.  I took photos.  Children returned to seats and so on.  Many children received more than one medal.   Mainly due to the fact that medals were given for individual heats as well as the finals!  Oh dear never mind – there were none for the abandoned events so plenty to go round.

Very excited about the medal giving
These littl'uns were so good sitting for ages 
Kisses from Fran
Martin vigorously pumping the poor boy's arms until they came out of their sockets.
More winners!
Three-legged race winners!

Very pelased with themselves!
Finalists of the teacher's race receiving their medals


Bye Bye!

Have a good Summer!

Nom Nom biscuits and toffees left over

So good!

Children went home and we stayed to have a goodbye coffee ceremony with the teachers.