Investigative Team Prepares for Trip to Zimbabwe – New Employee Corinna Blume Introduces Herself

by Steffen Richter,  2008/08/28

By talking about a baptism by fire wouldn’t do the multiple engagements and the outstanding experience from Corinna Blume justice. The newest reinforcement to the international project department is part of the investigative team which will go to Zimbabwe in a few days to lay the groundwork for a humedica relief mission. In an interview, Corinna Blume talks about the actual situation in Zimabawe and of her time thus far by humedica.

Ms. Blume, you will be setting off for Zimbabwe in a few days, in order to search for concrete relief assistance possibilities for humedica. What is the actual situation for the people in the country?

The country finds itself, due to the political problems, in extreme difficulties. The people are suffering from the effects of hyperinflation and three years of constant drought. We recently had a visit from Bishop Mutume from the Mutare diocese, who informed us of a massive famine throughout the entire country.

Over the past decades the African continent has been afflicted time and again with famine problems. Photo: photocase

At the beginning of the famine, people could still buy food from neighboring countries. But because of the drought, even those who have money are now having a difficult time acquiring anything. This development, in regards to the food shortage, has also been confirmed by the newest statistics from Welthungerhilfe e.V.

In addition Zimbabwe, with an HIV rate from 24.6 percent, is one of the most immune-deficient AIDS-affected countries in the world. Many people in the middle age level are dying because of this disease. This leaves only the children and elderly remain behind, who have a hard time being able to take care of themselves.

The consequence is massive malnutrition, which leaves the children vulnerable for additional problems, such as dysentery, pneumonia and parasites.

How can humedica help? The country is politically torn apart and has a government that recently placed a ban on foreign aid organizations.

Our goal is to support the work of Bishop Mutume and his team, and help those primarily affected – the malnourished children and adolescents. We are planning to at least reopen a former “Feeding Center”. Buildings and trained personnel seem to already be living in the area, so now it hangs on funds and the ability to purchase the needed food and medicine in Zimbabwe or a neighboring country.

A few days ago Bishop Mutume visited the humedica headquarters and asked for help for his country Zimbabwe. Photo: humedica

Dieter Schmidt and I are flying to Zimbabwe so that, along with Bishop Mutume, we can look for a way to supply the Feeding Center, enabling them to reopen as quickly as possible.

That the work ban placed on aid organizations in May by the government hasn’t yet been rescinded will show us exactly what options we have available when we get there. We are very confident, however, that the catholic diocese and Bishop Mutume have found reliable partners, under whose names we will be able to work.

When can this help begin?

Naturally we are hoping that we can start as soon as possible after we return to Germany.

You have been working now for a few months in the international project area and already have many years of experience with development assistance. How did your collaboration with humedica come about?

After a long stay in Angola, I decided to further my knowledge and possibilities in development aid in order to be better able to help the people that must live under extremely difficult conditions.

Last December I finished my studies in Community Health in Liverpool and then thought about whether or not I wanted to go directly back in service abroad, or remain in Germany and undertake planning and organization structures , which could then be put into place where needed and really bring help to the people.

humedica is an organization that takes direct care of those affected, instead of merely talking about helping but not achieving much. That’s why I am so happy to have found a place here where I have the opportunity to use my experiences not only in the theoretical planning phase, but also in the practical implementation, like now, for example, in Zimbabwe, targeting the help to the common people.

What's a day in the life of a development assistance planner like - in the office as well as in the field?

In the office it’s really a lot of desk work, which to be honest was a little difficult at the beginning. The advantage is that here one has the opportunity, what with the background information and good contacts with our partners, to jointly develop a good and fitting concept for each project. This means projects are being developed, background information is being researched and requested and contacts with ambassadors, partners and volunteer workers are being established.

In addition, I am responsible for the medical support of the assistance program, as well as supplying the projects with the proper and necessary medicines. Thus, donations-in-kind must be allocated to the appropriate project, needed medicines and equipment must be obtained and transportation must be coordinated with our storage and logistics team. To top it off I am also involved in the training of our volunteer workers. This takes the monotony out of the daily office life - which I like.

Corinna Blume works in the International Project department, and in a few days will be traveling to Zimbabwe to investigate aid possibilities. Photo: humedica

As for the work in the field, that can be just as diverse. In Zimbabwe it’s initially a question of assessment. Before we actually begin the project we make this pre-visit in order to find out what requirements and possibilities there are, to locate partners and helpers and to get the project off the ground. These assignments are extremely important in order to reinforce the work at the desk. From my own experience, I know how difficult it can sometimes be to understand the problems of a country from a distance.

This way we have the chance to learn about the country and people, and to adjust the project to the realistic needs of the population without running over their culture and established customs with our “office ideas”, and thereby running the risk of overshooting the mark.

What's it like to live in Bavaria as a born Hessen?

Different. I come originally from Offenbach, a relatively large town, and now live in Immenhofen in the middle of the Allgäu. I am greeted by the cows, here, every morning, who so pleasantly decorate the street in front of my house, as well as my car. This leads me to wonder sometimes if I really do own a blue auto or if it was always brown.

But I enjoy having so many lakes around me where I can regularly go swimming, and I love the view of the mountains and the beautiful nature. I believe one lives pretty well in Bavaria, although in my heart I will always remain a true Hessen.

Thank you for the interview. Have a safe journey to Afrika and on the assignment in Zimbabwe.

Please support our planned famine relief in Zimbabwe with a targeted donation. Thank you very much.

humedica e. V.
Keyword"Zimbabwe Relief"
Account 47 47
BLZ 734 500 00
Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also make a secure online donation for the Zimbabwe famine relief.

We will be informing you of further developments in Zimbabwe as they happen. Check back regularly and often to see how humedica is helping those in need.

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