Jill's Ethiopian Diary: Memories, good and bad.
I am nearing the end of my three month mission in Ethiopia in the Kambata and Tambaro regions on a malnutrition project. When I look back and reflect on the last three months there are many emotions and fond memories that I wish to hold on to for a very long time… and quite a few that I am sure I will remember, because it is important, but which are not happy ones.
Ones to remember are:
The children that recover from near death, and smile at you for the first time a few days later.
The parents that thank you for providing their children with nutritional support and preventing them from becoming seriously malnourished.
The pregnant women in the supplementary program who return a few weeks later holding a new-born child, healthy and happy.
Working alongside National Staff sharing jokes and laughing until we cry.
Dancing with the mothers of children in the Stabilization Centre which became a daily activity in Mudulla, and playing with the children who are getting ready for discharge.
Unhappy memories are:
Children standing in the rain and mud, wearing only a thin shirt and shivering with cold.
Crowds with over a 1000 people surging forward at the entrance to the Outpatient Therapeutic Program.
Women holding small children and babies, desperate for help, falling over in front of me when the crowd push to get in the centre, as I try and close the gate for our own safety.
Having to turn people away who do not meet the criteria for admission when they have walked over 20km in the hope that they will receive food.
Chronically sick children and adults who have no access to healthcare.
In the places I have worked, Hadero and Mudulla, I have seen thousands of people benefit from our program, and in the whole MSF emergency response, there have been over 40,000 people so far – both severely and moderately malnourished patients.
Crops are now starting to be harvested in certain areas. But there are still concerns: the day before my departure, I saw two children die from malaria. Also, who knows if the crops will be sufficient. And in other areas, the main harvest is expected in November.
(MSF via China.org.cn December 3, 2008)