Back to Niger after Haiti and Germany

by Simone Winneg, 2010/05/06

Simone Winneg (Kaufbeuren) has been responsible for the construction of the hospital in Kollo (Niger) since 2008. After she had accompanied the first doctor team to Haiti as a coordinator, she returned to Niger – to her large hospital family – a few days ago.

“When I returned to Kollo today, after 133 days, and saw the humedica hospital, I was completely lost for words. I was standing there with tears in my eyes and was unable to say anything but wow.

In December 2009, Simone Winneg signed the building contract. The last few days have been one continuing surprise. Photo: humedica

The annexe to the hospital, the construction of which has been possible thanks to the exemplary support of the company ALPENSOLAR from the Allgaeu region, has been finished and it is absolutely perfect! When I left, the building has been bare brickwork in the first building phase, and now it is finished and ready for taking in the first patients – we have access to electricity, water, air conditioning and oxygen adaptors.

This has been a wonderful moment, which has only been exceeded by the event that followed: that is by the meeting with the whole hospital team. Although we usually do not work on Wednesday afternoons, all the employees have stayed at work until I would arrive from Niamey – only to welcome me back.

And this welcome has been a warm one: big hugs, tears of joy and many questions about how I was, how my family was, what the journey had been like and how humedica was doing in Germany. Everyone laughed, talked and shook hands.

After a short tour around our new hospital ward, I was surprised for a second time: the hospital team had not only stayed longer, they also had prepared a little welcome gift for me. My return was celebrated with biscuits and soft drinks in the hospital’s entrance area which had been decorated with colourful balloons for this purpose. This was when I became aware of what the people had come to be to me: a family.

A large family with no less than twelve members who had missed me over the last four months and who now wanted to know everything about my time in Germany. Some of them even asked me about the situation in Haiti and the commitment of humedica in the Caribbean state. They were very interested in my “other” life far away from Niger.

Above all, however, they were happy that I had returned safe and sound. There were so many delighted smiles when I thanked them all for the party and told them greetings from Germany.

This little welcome party has reminded me once more of the importance of the presence of humedica here in Kollo, and of the importance not only of our financial, but also our of professional and above all personal support, and of the recognition this help is receiving here.

The humedica coordinator has been received and welcomed with food, drinks and admirable warmth. Photo: humedica/Simone Winneg

Every German doctor who has worked in Niger for humedica is remembered for a long time by the people here. The employees at the hospital asked me how hospital director Dr Irmgard Harms was, who had been to Kollo for four months in 2009. Or they asked me about Dr Matthias Heß, who had stayed at the humedica hospital in Kollo already twice, each time for a period of three weeks.

And also the recent past is still at their very hearts: so they asked me about Ilias, the medical technical assistant (MTA) who had supported our laboratory assistants for nine weeks last autumn. And they wanted to know whether the electrical engineer Sebastian would return once more – he had come to Niger for the second time only six weeks ago in order to organise the further construction works.

On the one hand all this made me feel as if I had never left. But on the other hand so much has changed here. And what pleases me in particular is that the hospital has passed its first test exceptionally well: after the hospital had been managed by German humedica coordinators for nine months, the hospital team has established itself without any support by German employees over the last four months.

Regular consultation was only handled via the internet or the odd phone call, but apart from that the hospital team organised and managed all necessary tasks on their own without any problems. When thinking of the fact that we founded the hospital only 14 months ago I am very proud of and pleased by the fact that the personnel in command have developed such good organising skills and that they are reliable and able to solve problems by means of their own initiative and creativity. Completely without our help!

A new beginning always brings new challenges

As always is the case in face of a new beginning – and the next five months here will definitely be a new beginning in many aspects – I have been thinking about many different things. On the one hand I am thinking about the existing hospital: what can be improved at the hospital? Where have been problems despite the overall effective hospital operations? What can be changed? Are there any staff bottlenecks?

Four-year old Ibrahim still loves playing with Simone’s mobile phone and balloons as much as he did four months ago. Photo: humedica/Simone Winneg

And on the other hand I am thinking about the new hospital ward, since this will be my responsibility over the next six months. New staff needs to be recruited and trained, rooms need to be equipped and furnished, the inauguration needs to be planned and then, finally, the first patients will be taken in.

But first of all, I am looking forward to the arrival of the aid shipment – the container which has been sent on its way to Niger from Germany at the beginning of March and which is expected to arrive probably within the next three days. The shipment includes drugs, hospital equipment such as baby cots, sheets, bandages and other urgently needed material which the whole team here in Niger is waiting for excitedly.

These are grand plans for a wonderful project which could only be realised thanks to your support and help. The humedica hospital is a shining star of hope in this desperately poor country called Niger and it provides the population of Kollo with what seems to be a matter of fact to us: a right to health for every child, every woman, every man.

I would like to thank you for this, dear donors and sponsors,

Yours sincerely
Simone Winneg"

Please continue supporting our project in Niger also over the months to come by means of a targeted donation for the shipment of relief gods.
      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference "Niger"
      Accont 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

Please also donate online in order to support our humedica hospital. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

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