Today we travelled about two hours south to visit the Shichicho hospital. We began our tour by walking through the construction site.
They are literally building the hospital brick by brick as the cement blocks are made on site. Mike, the Ethiopian engineer in charge of the project, was able to tell us what each room will be used for.
It was very cool to be able to envision the finished hospital and what a difference it will make to that community. First and foremost, the new facilities will help bring in doctors.
I know it’s hard enough getting physicians to work in rural North America so I can’t imagine the difficulty in recruiting and retaining doctors in rural Ethiopia. The hospital must be equipped once the construction is completed.
Patrick, who travelled with us, has been an integral part of this process. To date, two x-rays along with numerous other supplies have been donated but the process of getting them to the site must still be dealt with. We had a hard enough time getting shoes to the people of Silte so I can imagine transporting (and getting into the country) medical equipment must be a logistical nightmare.
And, of course, more supplies are still needed. I recognize that a partnership with the government, the local community and Holt is integral to success.
After seeing the new hospital walls it was time to tour the current facilities. I didn’t anticipate it, but this was the hardest part of the trip for me and much more challenging than the physical labor of building a house.
I was shocked by the complete lack of resources available. For example, the lab testing area basically consisted of two microscopes and a fridge. My junior high school science lab was in far better condition.
The in-patient facility consists of 6 beds crammed into a room the size of my bedroom. It made me feel horrible for the money I spend on things I don’t need when I’ve seen how far that money could go here.
I was surprised to hear from Sarah that sometimes cost of health care isn’t the biggest obstacle. Often, the big issue is accessibility.
People simply can’t make it to the health clinic in time. After seeing the woman being carried on a stretcher out of the Silte community the other day and the woman arriving by donkey today it makes perfect sense that accessibility is an issue in this area.
It was good to be able to talk about what I saw with the other student-athletes on the trip. I’ve always known that I’m fortunate as a student-athlete at OSU, but today that fact really hit me hard.
One of my favorite quotes instantly came to mind, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Reflecting on what I saw today, I need to figure out how I can use the amazing opportunity I’ve been given to truly make a difference.
Yesterday I was so optimistic and happy while today I feel cynical. Yesterday was such a high with finishing the house and handing off the shoes where as today has been really hard to take in everything we saw at the health clinic and hospital construction.
This trip has been an emotional roller coaster. I’ve also really been forced to stop and seriously consider what I want to do with my bioengineering major.
Once I graduate I’ll be well prepared to work in the bio-processing or pharmaceutical industry, but do I really want to contribute to the billion dollar industry of pharmaceuticals? The answer is no.
Next year I’ll be maintaining my status as a full-time student for NCAA requirements by taking the pre-med classes and maybe med school is something I need to consider more seriously rather than as a back-up plan.
Like I said, today truly made me stop and think and it hasn’t been easy, especially because I don’t know the answers to my questions. I need some more time to let the events of today and the entire trip settle in.
Limited Internet access prevented Stephanie from posting these blogs while she was in Ethiopia. The trip was completed in late June 2012.