Friday, 20 April 2012

20th April 2012

FINALLY, the internet is back on!!! Apparently, the fibre optic cable between Gimbie and Addis was broken (well, that’s what the word on the street was) and so we were ‘stranded’ for the best part of a couple of weeks. I think the phones were also playing up as we weren’t receiving text messages either. So, sorry to have ignored anyone. Hopefully, we’re back on full communication now.
 I’m pleased to report that I am much better now. I’ve no idea exactly what I had, but am guessing it was some odd viral illness. It lasted for several days and although it started with the worst unrelenting, 48 hour long headache I’ve ever had, it then left me with a cough that sounded worse than a 40-a-day smoker. Jeremy managed to escape it but there were a few other people here who fell ill as well.

 The trip to Lalibella and Gondor was great – we walked around all 11 rock hewn churches and since we were there for Easter week (it’s a week later here), we were exposed to endless praying in Geez. It was certainly very interesting and you have to be impressed with the level of praying that goes on within these Orthodox churches – they often start praying at 0500 am and go on until dark, which is when they are allowed to eat and drink. Even then, they only take ‘fasting’ food, which is basically food made without any animal products being used – this includes milk and butter. So basically, a diet of bread, injera, vegetables and shiro. This is practised for 50 days, leading up to Easter day, when there is an enormous feast after the final 10 hour or so prayer.

One of 11 rock hewn churches at Lalibella
A very long and steep walk to the monastry at Lalibella
All day prayers in the Lalibella churches
St Georges church at Lalibella - the last one to be built
Whilst we were in Gondor, we managed to get to the Simian mountains, where we walked for a couple of hours amidst really quite amazingly dramatic mountains. Apparently, you can walk across the mountains from Gondor to Lalibella, reaching a height of around 4500 metres at one point. This takes 17 days and isn’t something that I’m considering doing. As some of you will know, I’m not good at heights.

Castle at Gondor
Baths at Gondor
Waiting for sunset at the Goha hotel
Simian Mountains

Simian Mountains

Having enjoyed our holiday and dropped Hannah back in Addis to catch her flight back to London, I returned back to work at the health centres with a fresh approach – probably also managed to put back on a few pounds, which was just as well as I was beginning to look like a small Ethiopian child. I had a pretty amazing day at Ganjii, with 2 women being found to be very hypertensive and in need of treatment (one had a BP of 260/160 and the other 165/120). There was also a woman who was pregnant with twins, although she wasn’t too pleased when I told her this. Then a woman arrived at the clinic door, having walked for about 40 minutes from home whilst in labour. Apparently, her family had gone back to work/school and she started labour. She remembered being told at the clinics I run that she should come to the health centre to deliver and so she set off on foot to do just that. She arrived looking a little sweaty but managed to get onto the very wobbly couch that I use for scanning women. As she was pushing down, I thought I better have a look to see what was going on and was just in time to see a baby’s head appearing. I have to say at this point that I am not a midwife and delivering babies is not part of my repertoire. Unfortunately, the 2 medical students who were with me for the day were also feeling a little out of their depth and the alleged ‘midwife’ who works at the health centre had disappeared – I am convinced that he didn’t have a clue what to do and so ran as fast as he could. So there we were, 3 English novices and an Ethiopian woman who had come to receive help from us. The delivery room was locked (apparently because they want to keep the equipment safe) and the only equipment that we had was some gloves, which is standard equipment that most of us carry. The gloves went on and I remembered being told that you just have to wait for the head to turn and then the baby can be pulled out. The head turned, a few little tugs and out came a healthy looking baby girl. A few gentle taps on the back and she let out a fairly loud cry and the plug of mucus largely dislodged, allowing her to breath a little more easily.

End result; both mother and baby well, 3 rather bemused faranjis, and a missing midwife.

Quickest delivery I've ever seen
It was a very long day and we didn’t manage to leave for our 2 hour journey home until 4pm. However, as I was backing out of the health centre, which, by the way is at the top of a steep hill, the brakes on the car failed. I managed to stop us from totally sliding down the hill by using the hand brake and getting the car across the ‘road/dirt track’ rather than heading straight down. Then I had a very nerve-wracking 2 hour drive back to Gimbie with little in the way of ability to stop. This was all made more hazardous by numerous cows and donkeys simply walking out in front of the car. If you kill a cow, you have to pay at least 8 or 9000 Birr. Mind you, if you hit and kill a person, you go to prison – not a nice prospect, especially as Jeremy has been forcing me to watch endless episodes of prison break, where the Mexican prison is a fate worse than death and I think it may be similar to prison life here.

On a more cheery note, the boys are here at the moment watching Bee movie – this seems to be going down well, although I’m not sure quite what they are making of the talking bees. Whilst it is nice to see them enjoying themselves, I do wish their feet didn’t smell quite so badly. Everyone takes their shoes off on entrance to a house; largely because the ground outside is pretty dirty and you really don’t know quite what you may have stepped in. However, I think I would prefer the dirt from the ground to the smell that lingers for several hours after they have left.

No comments:

Post a Comment