Saturday, October 20, 2007

My friend in Ethiopia's newsletter

This is the doctor I'm going to stay with in Ethiopia. We met there in January of 06, and since then she visited me once here - we drove to Washington and NYC for a three day whirlwind tour, and we met in the Dominican Republic for a week, too. She is an amazing woman. I don't have all the photos, unfortunately.

Ruth's Report

Newsletter 2 June 2007

Early in the morning of the 19th of May, I arrived at Bole Airport, Addis Abeba. After a stay with friends, Co and Marja Tollenaar, who are also serving through Witte Velden Foundation, I traveled to Soddo on the 30th of May. Thanks to Co and Marja, my time in Addis was very productive. I managed to arrange the necessary practicalities as registration at the Dutch Embassy, an Ethiopian driving license, an internet connection and shopping.

Soddo is situated in the Great Rift Valley, a 6.5 hours drive south of Addis Abeba. Soddo is said to have 70.000 inhabitants. I live on the hospital compound at the edge of town. From the veranda there is a view to distant lake Abaya.

I have by now got used to power cuts and water shortage, Kebede (a boy who works in the compound and does the shopping), the guards who greet me and switch on the lights at night, the sound of crickets, the market place with mud, cows and goats and little children calling "ferenchiâ". That means white one. My neighbours and I are the only whites around.

With medical students from washington and neigbour.

Arrival in Ethiopia
Soddo Christian Hospital

Caused by the increasing inflation the number of poor people is on the rise. The local wheat is called tef, which is used to prepare the local staple injera. A kilo of tef now costs 5 Birr (50 eurocents). An average family needs 40 kilos of tef a month. That is 200 Birr per month for food only. The average income is 320 Birr.

Soddo Christian Hospital
I'e been working in the hospital for a couple of weeks now. The hospital has an operation section with four Ethiopian assistant-doctors, two Ethiopian surgeons and an American medical director. Then there is the clinic, first aid, children and internal section which is run by three Ethiopian doctors. I'm the fourth doctor and also work in the clinic, first aid, children and internal section. An Ethiopian doctor and me are heading this part of the hospital.

There is a room available for me to see patients. Fortunately a translator was found to assist me, because sometimes patients speak a language that none here can understand. Apart from Amharic (the national language) there are ten other languages.

Many diseases are poverty and hygiene related. There is malaria, tuberculosis, vitamine deficiencies, malnutrition, intestine and eye infections and HIV.

On of the things I am going to pay attention to is the children's section.

We have nine beds, which are however rarely occupied.

Sometimes small babies are discharged too early. This week professor Glenn Geelhoed and 15 medical students from Washington University visited, and he advised me on this issue.

Malaria in Gadalla.

One day a week I go to see patients together with Mary, a doctor specialized in tropical diseases. She has been working in Soddo for 11 years. The clinic is in Gadalla, west of Soddo. Part of the road is tarmac, but rest is in such poor condition that it takes 1.5 - 2 hours to cover 50 km. The rainy season is setting in and we had already postponed our visit for one day because of heavy rains. The road can become impassable.

At the clinic the patients are waiting. There was a little boy, last in line, with eyes showing yellow (caused by malaria), sick, barefoot in mud like many others, torn trousers and no shirt. I gave him recipe for medicin. When I came back he was standing against the wall, crying. I asked him what was the matter and he opened his hand, showing two wrinkled notes of 1 Birr. He couldn't afford the medicine, costing 6 Birr (60 eurocents)! it was so sad. We gave him food, clothes and the medicine.

Heading back the road appeared to be so slippery that the Toyota four wheel drive was skidding even in low gear. Because the area is part of the Rift Valley, it is not level. For the first time I was a little bit scared.

Prayer issues:
I thank God for:
financial means, the help and friendship of Co and Marja;
safety and protection, also on the road;
support in many ways from the church in Winterswijk, my home Baptist's community in Arnhem Zuid, family and friends.
Please pray for:
the new day clinic 2.5 hours drive north-east of Soddo. Most of this area is Islamic. Mary had been asked for this clinic before. We hope to pay our first visit on June 25th;
wisdom and understanding for the hospital staff and me.
the women's bible study group which I've been asked to carry on with;
safety and protection.

Psalm 18: 31 For who is God except the LORD? And who is a rock besides our God?-

Soddo Christian Hospital,
Po Box 305, Soddo Wolaitta, Africa
Voor giften:
Stg Witte Velden,
Postgiro 1485137
ovv Ruth Droppers
Thuisfront: Esther Droppers,
Ruth Droppers Serving in Health Care in Ethiopia Voor giften:
Isaiah 55:5 because of the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel

Ruth’s Report

Newsletter 3 – September 2007

Often during lunch and supper hours there were no employees.

Sometimes it happened that the emergency department nurse slept during the night in a different room. Which meant that at that time there was no emergency care for the patient.

I try to understand the background of the culture.

It touches me every time how late patients come in to the hospital. To travel 140 miles with a broken arm or 2 days on a donkey with a delivery is no exception.

The disease is prolonged at that stage and the patients are very sick. We also see the damaging effect of the treatment of the local witch doctors.

It happens often that family has no money to pay a whole treatment. The hospital therefore has a benevolent fund. In the committee who checks the requests sits also a Ethopian head nurse and pastor. For me, I see that I have no insite in it, cause how can I distinguish between very poor and a little bit more poor.

The hospital- Soddo Christian Hospital

In the past period we were able to improve the care on the pediatric- and medical ward. Nurses now lay clean sheets on the beds before the doctors round. They measure bloodpressures and write down the temperature as well the used medicines on the chart. As you can see in the pictures below the family members take care for their sick relative. They are in the hospital during the day and the night.

Every day we see in the clinic around 60 patients.

Last month one the general doctors left the team because he started his surgical training. We hope that next month there will be replacement.

Every week we have our own medical meeting in which we talk about diseases.

Together with the other head physician we stressed the importance of a laboratory and rontgen department which are open 24/7 and it seems that it really is working now.

There is 1 doctor to 35.000 people in Ethiopia. In the Netherlands there is 1 doctor to 305 people. They say that Ethiopia has 2000 general doctors. 1000 general doctors work in the bigger cities. Soddo is not a big city.

At the clinic pediatric ward with Korean people and neighbours

Care for twins

In the week when the second newsletter went out, I went with Mary, an American tropical specialist, to the clinic. A mother came walking in to the clinic with her malnourished twins. Their names where Amanuel and Abanezer . They were 2 months old and weight only 2,5 kg. After the delivery the mother was to weak and the babies where given away to family members, with as result that when they returned, the mother had no breastmilk any more. In that area were no wetnurses: mothers who want to breastfeed a second child. There is no clean water. There is no babyfood and when it would be there it would be to expensive. Mary had no place for shelter. What to do? We could not let them die¦.. I decided to take them in with the agreement that they would go back to the parents when they were strong enough. Very soon I had the first necessary baby materials through neighbours, family and friends. And I got help from a short-term American student Ariel who lived a month in my house and helped. And the help of Almaz, an older Ethiopian woman who took care of them from Monday till Friday from 8 am-6pm. In the beginning they lay together in a plastic washing tub and we fed them almost continuously. It the weeks after that grew and started to laugh.

Now three weeks ago, when they weighed 5 kg, they went back to their parents. For me it was nog easy cause I grew attached to them.

We gave the parents baby food, clothes, bottles and dipers and money for the bus to come back to Soddo and get babyfood every week.

Despite this support the parents told us repeatly that they could not take care of the babies; the father has no income and there are also two other children in the family. Recently a son of them passed away.

The parents have decided to give them up for adoption. The twins are now in an orphanage and they are doing good.

The twins at arrival and in week 7
manuel en Abanezer bij aankomst, 3 weken 7 weken

Matthew 25:35

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing.

I would like to thank family and friends for the materials and emails you sent. Often they came at exactly the right moment. I try to answer as quick as possible, but sometimes it can take a while.

I thank the Lord God for:

Safety and protection.
The sent babymaterials trough friends and family.
A work- and Residence permit; the womens Biblestudy group.
Rest in busy times.
Prayer I aks for:

The coming time when I, together with and olders short-term couple, will be alone on the compound. The neighbours and the medical director are for a short period in the States and South-Africa.
The hospital, when we think of expanding the clinic and pharmacy, because the current building is getting to crowded.

If you wish to help Ruth and her work, you can send her a donation (a check from an American bank is fine, there is just no tax deduction here:
Stichting Witte Velden te Hilversum
Postbanknumber 1485137
IBAN: NL 41 PSTB 0001 4851 37
mention her name: for Ruth Droppers

Email of the foundation is:
Email of contact person in Netherlands: