Wednesday, 11 January 2012

12th January 2012

I haven’t blogged for a few days as I was laid up with a rather nasty stomach bug. Although it was my first attack since being here, it was pretty acute and left me feeling totally washed out for a few days. Not quite sure what brought it on but possibly a sandwich I ate in Green Bar B a couple of days previously. Oh well, a few days of Cipro and boiled water to drink and I seem to be on the mend.
Before setting off for Addis yesterday, I packed all of Jaba’s things up for Makabe as she is going to take him back to her house today, where he will hopefully grow up to be a happy little chap. Actually, packing his things didn’t take too long as he has grown out of most of his clothes and so only has 3 pairs outfits that fit him.  Thankfully, there are many friends who have collected things for us to take back so he will soon be dressed like a King again. Makabe has ordered a bed for him from the carpenter so that will probably be ready by the time we return. Until this time, he will sleep in ‘case 14’, which is a plastic box that we used to pack our luggage for the car – everything had to be listed for customs by case number.

Having arrived in Addis, the first port of call was the Greek Club for supper. I am worried that I will never be able to manage a whole pizza again as I think my stomach has shrunk. I was full after just 3 slices and was not even able to contemplate the baklava – shame as it’s really good here.

We spent the morning in the immigration office – oh how I love those government offices – as we needed to get Jeremy a replacement residency permit (his was stolen). It seems, however, that this is not possible on a temporary passport, despite the fact that he is on the computer system as having one. They did say, however, that he needed to get an exit visa to leave the country. So yet a few more queues and $20 later, he has a ticket to return tomorrow to pick up his passport (emergency) with an exit visa stamped in it. I still have my residency permit, although this doesn’t match my passport number.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Jaba in his Christmas outfit

The boys with their new T shirts
Christmas lunch on the veranda
Ashabere (Makabe's husband) happily holding Jaba
Jaba and his new family in their house

7th January 2012

Today is Ethiopian Christmas. The day is spent eating and inviting friends, family and neighbours round for food. I don’t think there is any exchange of presents but rather it’s all about having a large meal and sharing it with others nearby. Apparently many people fast for a few weeks beforehand, in as much as they don’t eat meat during this time, but then they all come into hospital sick as they gorge themselves with meat cooked in palm oil (if they ever get it to melt). There was also a man admitted today having sustained multiple stab wounds to the bowel yesterday. Apparently there was some kind of fight over coffee, probably induced by too much alcohol. As I mentioned previously, this is the time for boozing and coffee picking – the coffee brings in the money to buy the alcohol.
 We started the preparations for the day last night, when we cooked the meat for the day – I got Makabe to buy some beef from the market as I know our guests will want to eat meat. I am sticking to my vegetarian diet on the basis that the there are far too many flies on the meat that I’ve seen and I’m not sure whether the prevalence of TB in cows is as high as it is in humans.  So I put the meat in the slow cooker and then went to the Christmas service at the church down the road. Lensa, the nurse from Homa called for me and took me along so that I could see what an Ethiopian Christmas service was like. There were some quite sweet children singing as they walked in carrying candles. Well they were sweet until they gave each of them a turn on the microphone, which induced them to cream in a high pitched voice and near deafen the entire congregation.

 Having got the meal all sorted, we went along to Makabe’s house as she invited us for lunch. On the way, I noticed a goat in our garden – I reckon he must have escaped from becoming Christmas lunch. Anyway, despite having told Makabe that we were having various children round for lunch, she insisted that we also ate some food at her house. Seemed rude to refuse and so we have adopted the Ethiopian Christmas tradition of eating all day. We took Jaba with us and he looked really at home amongst the family. Hopefully, a picture will be posted later on as I have sent one to my mum.

We returned home in time for Clara, the boys and Lensa and Galana (from one of the health centres) to arrive for lunch. So the ten (well 11 if you count Jaba) tucked into a Christmas feast of beef or vegetables and pasta – this is a feast here anyway. Then we watched Harry Potter on the ‘big screen’, followed by pancakes with nutella spread, which Clara had found in the supermarket.

 The to top it all, we were able to give the boys a present as yesterday we had just picked up a parcel of t-shirts that Karen had sent. They were really excited and rapidly dressed in their new tops, eager to pose for a photo. ‘Just like a football team’, I called out to their beaming faces.  All children are football mad here, with Man United or Arsenal being amongst the few English words that they speak (well apart from ‘you, you , you, give me money’).

So all in all, a very good day and we are now exhausted and ready to watch an episode of the mentalist (yes, we seem to had got addicted to this now). Jeremy is on call as Washuin, the Ethiopian doctor has gone away for a few days holiday – he will need this as he is soon to do 3 weeks on his own. Mind you, it is normal for doctors here to always be on-call all of the time.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

5th January 2012

Jaba had his BCG and Polio vaccinations yesterday. He was pretty good and didn’t cry too much. We have finally found a solution for Jaba’s future. Rather than send him to the orphanage, which was on the cards for any day now, Makabe (our cook/cleaner) is going to look after him. We will cover his costs and also pay Makabe to look after him, but this doesn’t amount to an enormous sum as living costs here are not vast. So if anyone has any spare baby/small child clothes or useful baby things in the attic just waiting for a good home, I know just the place.  Second hand things are just perfect and would be considered a luxury here. Only yesterday, a woman with twins was asking me for some of Jaba’s clothes and blankets. Indeed, when people see Jaba dressed like a King, they often ask for spare clothes. Babies here are generally not put in nappies or dressed in clothes as they are simply too expensive and so they are mostly wrapped in large sheets of colourful 1950s patterned material, which is frequently repositioned each time the baby soils.
 It is fairly quiet at the hospital at the moment as it is coffee picking season and everyone is out in the fields from morning to night. I wonder whether there are more maternal and neonatal deaths during this time. Coffee is the biggest business here and brings quite a lot of money to families living in the villages, whether it is from owning the coffee trees or from picking the beans. Rather than paying people for picking the beans, they get 1Kg of beans for every 5Kg picked for the owner. Then the coffee pickers take the beans to market to sell for 85-90 Birr a kilo (£3.50).

 In addition to my maternal risk assessment project, I have been collecting data from the waiting house and the hospital at Ayra to try and see what happens to women who stay in the waiting house. It’s not easy as the records in the waiting house are kept by an elderly lady who writes in Amharic and the delivery book in the hospital is written in English. So I have had to get someone to translate the Amharic to English and then try and match up the records. The waiting house is a place where women who are considered to be at high obstetric risk and who live far away from the hospital are encouraged to stay for a couple of weeks prior to delivery. I don’t think that there are many of these places in Ethiopia and certainly not one in Gimbie and so I though it would be useful to see how effective they are at preventing maternal death. The woman who looks after the waiting house is paid a pittance; just 300 Birr a month (£12.00), which is really only just enough to buy basic food. When we visited, I gave her 100 Birr ‘for Christmas’ and as we walked away I noticed that she was crying. It really is tough for some people here.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Respose to comments

As I still can't see any blogs out here, I am not able to post any comments. However, as luck would have it, I set the blog up so that all comments are emailed to me.
Thank you for your responses to the photo challenge - it seems that it's possible to upload text but not photos.
For those of you who have managed to see the photos posted on Jeremy's blog (chickens - who by the way are becoming incredibly demanding), you are able to see these because he emailed them to his son and got him to post them form the UK! So Shaheen, you see, there is always another explanation. I can't believe you would even contemplate the possibility of user error........?
Thanks again for reading - keep the comments coming and I will post loads of photos when I am in the UK.

2nd January 2012

Well I am pleased to say that the woman that had the twins here by caesarean section told me that she did not know that she was having twins before I scanned her and at that time, she was not planning to come to hospital for her delivery. Indeed, she hadn’t planned anything, which means that she would very likely have stayed at home (approximately 90% of women have their babies at home in Ethiopia). So when asked why she came to hospital, she laughed and said, ‘because I told her to’. This is of course very true, I did tell her to go to hospital as very few women seem to manage to deliver both babies alive when at home. Moreover, one of the babies was in a transverse position and was unlikely to come out on its own accord. So, she is a lucky woman and hopefully she will tell others in the village that it is better to have a check-up at some point during the pregnancy, and hopefully, when they do, someone will spot when there is a problem and will hopefully refer them to hospital if they need to be there. Yes, a lot of ‘hopefullys’ but I think it is certainly possible to bring about this change, even if on a small scale in a couple of regions.
Last night we took the boys to the Green Bar for a meal as the bonfire is lit on a Sunday. On the walk up to the bar we stopped off to buy Lalisa a belt as he has developed a crooked posture from walking along with his hand hitching up one side of his trousers.  The poor little chap almost completely lost his trousers, revealing his naked bottom, when I tried to thread the bright pink belt (his choice of colour). His waist is about half the diameter of the trousers.

The Green Bar (named this by faranjis as it has a green gate) also doubles up as a butcher’s kiosk and they use all the bones for the bonfire. It kind of smells a bit odd – a bit like an operating theatre where they use diathermy to stop the bleeding – but along with the booming and somewhat wailing music, it creates a nice atmosphere.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

1st January 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR – I wonder what’s in store for 2012…..
We saw the new year in in Spanish style as Clara invited us over for cheese, tomato and chorizo, then paella, followed by orange cake – you may wonder how on earth we manage to have these exquisite dishes when there is a distinct lack of ingredients. Well, we are becoming resourceful and manage to collect up all sorts of goodies from Addis. We also have some things that we brought over from the UK and they are rationed so that we get some ‘treat’ nights. So tomatoes, oranges and rice comes from Gimbie, cheese from Addis, a tin of mussels and a tin of squid and a tin of tuna from Spain, and Chorizo from the UK. Oh and then we undertook the traditional eating of 12 grapes over 12 seconds just before midnight (enormous grapes bought from Addis). Unfortunately the electricity went off in Clara’s house for the whole evening but we had enough candles to see what we were doing. The internet went down around 11.30 (predictable) and we had planned to play the gongs from a YouTube video. So we had to improvise by making a recording of Clara banging an empty dried milk tin 12 times over 12 seconds and then playing this at about 1 minute to midnight so that we could eat one grape every second. We totally failed on the grape front and I only managed 5 in the 12 seconds – despite having peeled them beforehand.

I have just returned from the hospital, where there is a woman who I scanned in the health centre about 8 weeks ago. I am pleased to say that I spotted that she had twins and told her that because of this, she should have her babies in hospital. So yesterday, she did exactly that and had a caesarean section. Mother and both baby boys are doing very well. I am sure that not all women take the advice but when they do, it makes me feel very happy as it means that the project does seem to be working. I am going to chat to the woman tomorrow (with an interpreter) to ask her about her decision process behind coming to hospital to have the babies. I am obviously hoping that she will say that it was the advice given in the health centre that persuaded her to come to hospital but we shall see what she says. I need to be careful that the translator doesn’t lead her into saying what I want to hear but I think I can get him to do this.