Project conclusion in Zimbabwe – humedica team returns

by sha/Rosalyn Hoppe/Heidi Nicklin, 2009/10/09

After five months, our two coordinators, Heidi Nicklin and Rosalyn Hoppe, have returned safely from Zimbabwe. During their stay there, they gained valuable experiences with the country and the people as well with the challenges of humanitarian emergency aid. In the following, our coordinator Heidi gives an overview of the work of humedica in Zimbabwe

When we arrived in Zimbabwe in April, people were eagerly waiting for us. We were also excited about getting to know our new colleague, Sister Anuarite, who welcomed us at the airport in Harare. From there, the 3-hours-ride to Mutare was arranged. On the way there we gathered some first impressions of the impressive landscape. The premises of the St. Dominic’s Convent became the central hub of our work. It was from there that the delivery of medicines and donations in kind was arranged for and the supplies were distributed.

The humedica coordinators Heidi Nicklin and Rosalyn Hoppe at the project headquarters in Mutare. Foto: humedica

In May we focussed our attention on the ten mission hospitals situated in very remote areas. With the arrival of large deliveries of relief supplies (18 tons of air freight) sent by action medeor, we were finally equipped with the necessary medicines to fulfill all the requests. For the clinic staff we gave a training course on cholera and cholera prevention, general clinical hygiene and the administration of vaccination campaigns.

Some patients also suffer from severe malnutrition and are given additional meals consisting of a special diet. Having prepared everything in detail, we distributed food for these patients in the clinics during the following months. Among other things, we distributed corn meal, oil, beans, milk powder, sugar, soya, dry fish and peanut butter.

During the malaria season (June and July), the intake capacities of the hospitals were stretched to the limit. Moreover, some clinics faced the treatment of a rising number of HIV/AIDS-patients.

Well-attended surgery in one of the clinics. Foto: humedica

Many patients live in areas so remote that it is not possible for them to come to the clinics. Fortunately, almost all of the mission hospitals offer the possibility of mobile treatment. At least once a year, a medical team sets off for remote locations to provide basic treatment for the people living there. Because of the high number of people who depend on mobile treatment, it was very important to us to make sure that it would be continued after our departure.

During the last two months (August and September) of our stay, we saw to it that the hospitals were provided with enough medicines and food for the high summer to come (winter months in Germany, given that Zimbabwe is situated on the southern hemisphere). Moreover, in these months we organized a general overhaul of all the ten ambulance cars. Altogether, almost 69 tons of medicines and gifts-in-kind have been delivered and used and about 54.000 patients treated.

Although we sometimes spent long hours on the truck in order to distribute the enormous amounts of relief supplies, we were repeatedly reminded how vital our efforts were. Each smile that was given to us by patients and their family members, the gratitude of the hospital staff, the happy faces of the children in the orphanages and the support and appreciation of our highly-motivated colleagues in Mutare – all this is what humanitarian aid is all about. Helping people in need!

Yours sincerely, Heidi

One of our many little patients. Foto: humedica

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