18.07.2016 - 18.07.2016 27 °C
Over the last 2 days, I've had the privilege of spending time with the most inspiring man I have ever met. Andrew Browning is the gynaecologist who has worked here in Africa for many years; setting up this hospital in Barhidar, as well as several others scattered throughout Ethiopia and Tanzania. His passion and commitment are palpable and I am blown away by his humility. Andrew has dedicated his life to improving women's health in Africa. I wonder how many women and babies this man has directly or indirectly saved; not to mention the lives he has returned to those many women who have had a fistula repaired under his care?
I can't believe my luck at being here for this visit. Andrew is in Barhirdar for just 3 days to check on the hospital (including the new one currently under construction) and meet with the Board. On Thursday he is spending the day in Addis and catching up with 2 other amazing people - his aunt Valerie May Browning and the famous Catherine Hamlin. Oh, to be a fly on the wall at that meeting!
Today Andrew took me to visit the fistula hospital here in Barhirdar. He started up this place about 10 years ago but it is now under different management. It was one of the most emotionally overwhelming experiences of my life. Andrew was treated like royalty. All the staff - nurses, cleaners, kitchen staff - came running out to hug and kiss him. Many of these women had themselves been fistula patients and Andrew had operated on them years before. We then had a tour of the hospital. I was (somewhat embarrassingly) totally overcome by emotion seeing firsthand the difference he has made, and continues to make. A formal 'coffee ceremony' ensued which is a very complex and prolonged procedure starting with the roasting of the coffee beans. I'm sure the entire hospital staff turned out to show their respect. I'm am still struggling to hold back the tears as I recall the experience.
Unfortunately, just before we left for the fistula hospital, my phone totally died. I suspect there was a power surge which has cooked its insides. One of the locals has taken it off to be looked at but I am not holding much hope. Sadly this means there are no photos and there may not be any more from now. I hope the ones I've already taken are still safe as I haven't backed up for a week or so! It also means I have no phone, clock, torch or internet. Very, very inconvenient. My computer is still functional and I have found good wifi at the nearby hotel. However, future blog posts are likely to be few and far between......
Some other exciting news has been the return of Marjolein. She's back from Holland with wonderful goodies including wine, cheese and chocolate (for the midwives). Having been on call continuously for 2 weeks, it is a relief to get a break. She was very impressed that the midwives and I kept the hospital in good order without any major disasters. I had told her the caesarean rate at Murdoch so I think she expected to find I'd cut everyone open during her absence. Actually, I had done only 5 (all necessary!) caesareans thereby keeping our background rate of less than 10% (actually it is currently 5% for the month!!).
And......breaking news.......I passed my first solid stool since arriving in Ethiopia. Happy days!! Looks like I'll be able to donate my 2 remaining rolls of luxurious toilet paper to the hospital!