Changing perspectives and learning from each other

by Hanna Bellmann,  2010/10/20

The entire September I, a medical student from Cologne, spent at the humedica hospital in Kollo, Niger. From the first moment I felt comfortable there, and even after a stay that short it has become something like a second home to me.

Hanna Bellmann (left) at the inauguration of the new hospital ward in Kollo. Photo: humedica

The first exciting festivity was the inauguration of our new hospital ward. I was in charge of the inpatient ward, where I worked together with the nurses and midwives. At eight o’clock every morning, Chief Physician Dr Yacouba went on his medical round during which I was always present. Each patient was given the time and attention they needed.

After that, every-day life at the hospital started. I was responsible for ensuring a hygienic way of working among the nurses and to give them a better understanding of appropriate working standards.

On the first day, young, fresh and absolutely over-motivated as I was, I made thousands of suggestions and wanted to realise each and every single one of them immediately. But that was not possible – in contrary: everything went slowly, if at all. So I spent the next few days only observing how our coordinator Simone, who has been working in Niger for two years, talked to the people and how they treated each other.

On the first day, young, fresh and absolutely over-motivated as I was, I made thousands of suggestions and wanted to realise each and every single one of them immediately. But that was not possible – in contrary: everything went slowly, if at all. So I spent the next few days only observing how our coordinator Simone, who has been working in Niger for two years, talked to the people and how they treated each other.

I was able to learn a lot about ways of interaction and acting by means of copying the behaviour of the people around me. People who had already more experience than I, who I admired or simply respected.

Children in particular depend on assistants such as Hanna Bellmann, who take part in relief missions during their holidays. Photo: humedica

Among my objectives were things that are a matter of fact in Germany, such as wearing gloves, using drip systems only once, being nice to our young patients instead of threatening them, handling drugs properly and showing personal commitment. Every time I saw my local colleagues realise these objectives, I was happy.

Unfortunately, I was also forced to watch children die. Their death was caused by severe malarian diseases, which occurred even more frequently this year than over the last few years. The same applies for the number of people suffering from undernutrition.

I want to become a doctor and my heart is always telling me that I must help each and every Creni (term for severely undernourished children who also suffer from additional diseases) immediately and without exceptions. Although it made me sad, I had to give up this notion, since it simply cannot be achieved and we are unable to reach some of the children at all.

Day by day I saw how urgently people needed our help and I wish I could use all the time I do not spend studying at university for assisting the team in Niger.

I would like to thank the entire hospital team and my new friends who I am still missing a lot for this experience. For this mutual benefit. I have learned to look at things from another perspective, to change my standards and to develop cultural awareness. I have “raised my toleration level” regarding every-day life, which has always been our motto in Kollo.

Learning together and from each other, this has been the aim of the young woman from Cologne during her month in Niger – and she has reached it. Photo: humedica

And I would like to thank the German Federal Foreign Office for their financial support extended to humedica for our relief efforts. Without these financial means and private donations, my and our help in Niger could not be realised.

Now I am continuing my studies at university, so I will have greater skill next time and will be able to teach even more.

Kind regards from
Hanna Bellmann

Dear friends and sponsors of our humedica hospital in Kollo: please continue supporting our efforts to fight the famine in Niger. You can support us by sending a simple and secure text message containing the reference DOC to 8 11 90 or you can make a donation for the people in the West African country via our online form.

Of course you can also choose the traditional way of supporting our relief efforts by means of transferring your donation to the account below:
      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference “Hospital Niger
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

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