“Few expectations, but a lot of hope“

by Karin Wilke/RBU,  2010/07/13

Shortly before her departure to Niger, we had the opportunity of holding a short interview with Karin Wilke. The 43-year-old nutritionist from Witzenhausen in the north of Hesse will join the humedica team working on our project in Kollo for a period of six months.

Which expectations do you have regarding your trip to Africa?

Actually, I do not have many expectations. During the week I spent at the humedica headquarters I have received some information about the situation in Niger. Rather than expectations, I have hope. I hope that the famine will not take on a larger extent than already is the case. And I hope that my knowledge and my help will be welcome and accepted, and contribute to improving the situation.

Which tasks will you fulfil regarding the project?

Karin Wilke will work in Niger for the next six months. Photo: private

I will assist and support the team equipping the nutrition centre which is planned to be located within the already existing hospital. And then I will of course be in charge of registering and examining children who are moderately or severely malnourished.

In addition, I will give advice to mothers and pregnant women regarding an adequate diet, food and health hygiene, the use of local products (as far as they exist) and food supplements.

In the field of education I will furthermore have the task of training local staff (among others the nurses) when it comes to nutrition consultation and health education. Our objective on a medium and on a long term is to train the hospital staff in order for them to be able to work in this field on their own. That means they will be able to continue this work without “external” assistance.

On the one hand an exciting humedica project is awaiting you in Niger, but on the other hand also a terrible famine. How are you going to deal with this additional burden?

Well, it will certainly not be easy all the time. But since it is a job I have consciously chosen for myself and since I already have practical experience in this field, I know what to expect and am mentally prepared for my mission.

Of course, the first real impression is always different from what you thought. But fortunately, I am not there alone, and I will be able to share and overcome potential emotional burdens with my team colleagues.

Do you already have some experience with working for a non-governmental organisation?

Yes, I do. I worked for a Mexican non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Chiapas for 15 months directly after I graduated in nutrition sciences. This organisation supported and promoted indigenous Mexican and Guatemalan families in the fields of agriculture, medicine and nutrition.

During my last position as lecturer for nutrition policy in Mühlheim an der Ruhr, I also worked closely together with both secular non-governmental organisations and church-run organisations.

How do you spend your free-time?

In my free-time I go running or swimming. I also enjoy meditation – it is an effective means to relieve stress. And I also like travelling around the world!

What will you miss when you are in Niger?

The cool weather. I was told that it is very, very hot in Niger. And I will also miss my family and my friends and one or the other free-time facility.

Dear Karin, we would like to wish you all the best, God’s blessings and protection for you mission. Thank you very much for this interview.

By means of your support hopefully all children will soon be able to laugh like this once more. Photo: humedica/Simone Winneg

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