We are near the end of the rainy season in Ethiopia, but you wouldn’t know it by the amount of rain that we get nearly every afternoon here.
Kathy Gross, one of our Pediatricians, spoke with the father of one of the children and the following are her notes.
Yididiya is a 9-year-old boy who lives a days journey from Addis. He came with his father to have surgery, to correct a cleft palate. He also has a birth abnormality of the bones of his neck and upper spine, so that he has a shorter neck than normal, which results in a webbed appearance to the base of his neck. Despite the boney abnormality, he was still able to move his neck well. He has had problems learning to speak because of the wide defect in the roof of his mouth.
Yididiya and his father arrived in Addis on the first day of our clinic. He was dressed beautifully in a suit with a waistcoat, white shirt and polished dress shoes. He has a lovely smile like his dad and his large eyes gleamed with mischief. When we asked about his endurance, we learned that he is a keen soccer player and a good student at school. He and his dad are very close because Yididiya's mother died of breast cancer when he was two years old.
He went to the operating room the next day without fear, nestled into the arms of nurse Irena Ray, as she carried him into the operating theatre. The operation was done by Angelo Capozzi, but was a difficult and challenging operation to do, and took about 4 hours. After the surgery, he had to stay most of the day in the post-anaesthetic recovery room. All of us were concerned. He stoically coped with the discomfort and repeated check-ups that we needed to do.
Everytime I went out to his dad to give him a progress report, his dad said, “No problem.” He said that he knew his son was in good hands. He blessed us and thanked God for his son’s surgery. Over the next 12 hours, Yididiya finally stabilized. He spent another 3 days with us recuperating and none of us wanted to see him leave.
Today, he and his dad headed home in good spirits and they epitomize the strength, trust, and faith that many families share in Ethiopia.
It is truly touching to be able to help these people and I am glad to be here. - Katherine Gross
I am pleased to show you a picture of one of our patients that we have been following. Anberu Mestewai on the day that she was discharged.
Last evening, September 24th, the Rotarians in our team joined the Rotary Club of Addis Ababa East at their meeting. We shared our thoughts about the medical missions both present and future.
Anne Delaney, our Medical Director, described how the mission has been up to now. At first, we thought that we might not have enough patients but that has not been the case. In fact, we are now at capacity right through Wednesday, she said. The Addis Rotarians said that we would have had too many to turn away if they had advertised the clinics presence. They would like us to continue to do additional missions and said that the greatest need is in the rural areas of the country.
Anne was asked if there were more cleft palate deformities in Africa. In fact, the average in North America is about 1 in 750, and in Africa, the incidence is about 1 in 1000 births. She also talked about minimizing the toxins in the environment and the supplementation of Folic Acid in a woman's diet as effective preventative measures. But, there is no magic bullet yet, such as in the case of Polio vaccination drops.
It was an enjoyable evening, and I think that we have forged a better friendship and understanding of what we can do with each other. And isn't that what Rotary is all about.
Some of our team then went out for dinner with a very interesting doctor, Rick Hodes. Rick Hodes is an American doctor who has lived and worked in Ethiopia for over 20 years. He is the Medical Director of Ethiopia for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a 95-year old NGO. Over the years, he has been in charge of the health of Ethiopians immigrating to Israel. Currently, he is the senior consultant at a Catholic mission helping sick people that are destitute with heart disease (rheumatic and congenital), spine disease (TB and scoliosis), and cancer. He has also worked with refugees in Rwanda, Zaire, Tanzania, Somalia, and Albania.
Tiblet has just had surgery to further repair a gunshot wound. She was from Sudan and unfortunately, she was in a hut that someone had just set on fire. She was inside getting out, and was shot by the assailant. Solomon Haregewein, our Translator on this trip, was the surgeon who first operated on her at our previous mission in Bahir Dar 2009. I spoke with her and we remember each other well.
Steven Schnepf our Patient Transporter, met Addis and Tiblet in the recovery ward and approached Lois, asking if we can buy some new clothes for the 2 women. It was a great idea and a shopping mission was started. With the assistance of our bus driver Fekadu, Tom, Ken and Solomon, they were able to find some very attractive traditional dress and sandals. The garment can be tied in the middle and came with a shawl. Who knew! Four guys can buy women’s clothing.
You will recall from my previous notes, that we met Addis in the Merkado shopping area. She has had her operations; the release of her arm was done by Stan Valnicek and her eyelid reconstruction by Dr. Angelo Capozzi. She will be kept in the Cure Hospital for a couple of weeks while she heals.
Dad Atelo and his daughter Jilo have travelled from Moyla which is on the border of Ethiopia and Kenya. It took them 2 days of travel by bus to get here. They first heard of our clinic from the ads the Addis Rotaracts posted for us on the radio and from relatives who live in Addis. Jilo is 4 years old. She received both a cleft palate and lip procedure today. Atelo is very happy that she had the operations.