23.07.2016 - 23.07.2016
My phone is back! Solomon the ambulance driver took it to his mate who owns an electronic shop. It got a new battery and some 'rewiring' and seems to now be back to normal. An Ethiopian miracle! As you can imagine, I have quickly backed up all the photos onto my laptop and will ensure I use a surge protector whenever I recharge the phone. I've missed out on a few days of photos including my emotional visit to the fistula hospital, but I may be able to get some copies from Garry the builder.
Another day, another inspiring person. Katie is a South African midwife. She works with Andrew and is based in Tanzania but comes regularly to Barhirdar where she provides tuition and support to the local midwives. She is here this weekend to do a workshop.
Katie arrived yesterday like a whirlwind! Her hotel room wasn't ready so she came straight to the hospital, introduced herself to me, hugged the midwives and launched herself into teaching mode. She wandered around the ward, talking to and touching the women like an old friend. She admired their babies and helped them breastfeed. Along the way, she interacted with each midwife; asking questions and discussing management. They clearly respected and appreciated her instruction. Last evening (over a gin and tonic), we sat and talked about the challenges faced by both local and volunteer midwives dealing with childbirth in developing countries. Another inspiring person devoting her life to the women of Africa!
I have a beautiful story to tell which sums up so much about this amazing place and the people it serves.........
Felgu is a 35 year old woman. She had her previous 7 babies at home in the country but the last one was stillborn so she decided this time to have the baby at our hospital in Barhirdar. She made the trip into town twice during the pregnancy with her husband. Her 2nd visit at 36 weeks was fortuitous as she was found to have severe preeclampsia with a BP of 200/120. It took some time to convince her to stay for medication, and then even more time to talk her into an induction. However, all turned out well and she had a healthy 2.4kg baby girl.
After delivery, Felgu needed to remain in hospital for a few days. It soon went around the ward that she and her husband had no support network in town. Each patient then asked their family to bring in a little extra food. It wasn't long before the couple were inundated with food; probably more than they had seen in the last few months! Funnily enough, she spent these few days just eating and sleeping - clearly storing up energy to face coping with her 7 kids at home! Her devoted husband remained with her all the time; sleeping on the hard floor beside her bed.
Today we talked about discharge. Her BP was stable on medication but I suggested she return in a few days for a check. There was lengthy discussion between the couple and the midwives. It turns out that they live far out in the country - a bus journey followed by a 'very long' walk. I questioned how she would be able to walk so far so soon after the birth and was told about the 'traditional ambulance service'. Apparently her husband and other members of their village will carry her and the baby home; either on their backs or on a stretcher. I then suggested maybe she didn't really need to return for a checkup - but her husband was insistent that this was 'no problem'. His wife and baby had been so well looked after that he wanted to follow my instructions to ensure their ongoing health.
I was hesitant to ask for a photo but Felgu was happy to oblige and even encouraged her husband to join in.
In fact, the woman in the next bed was somewhat put out that she wasn't asked and insisted I take a photo of her too!