The story behind the picture: waiting for work in Jijiga

by Ruth Bücker,  2011/12/05

Many experiences in our lives are very special moments that leave behind their traces and remain in our memories for a long time. That can be moments linked to the current situation. But that can also be moments in which we relive many old memories that tell a story that goes far beyond one single moment. The story behind the picture - this time from Jijiga in Ethiopia.

We stop in front of the gate of the local hospital of Jijiga, the provincial capital of the Somali Region. The road in front of the main gate is torn open and it looks like a large construction site. Men equipped with shovels, pickaxes and wheelbarrows are lounging against the hospital wall and seem to take a short break from the construction works. But this is only the appearance to outsiders.

Measles, malaria, HIV, tuberculosis and childbirth complications are the diseases most commonly treated by the local hospital staff. The common cases, as the local humedica employee Ibrahim tells us. And it is just as common for patients to die of their diseases.

The men, whom we at first thought to be road workers, are prepared for this worst case scenario. Their tools are not used for building or repairing roads, but they are tools for digging graves.

In this way the waiting men earn a little extra money for supporting their families. This does not only include their own wives and children, but the extended families, whose social cohesion is typical for life in the Ethiopian and Somali society and probably for life in most African countries.

Death is a part of life, Ibrahim tries to relief us of the discomfort we feel for some time after the unexpected revelation. Although the death of a beloved person is no easier to bear for the people here than it is for Europeans, due to the situation prevailing in many parts of Ethiopia, above all in rural areas, people deal with such a loss and come to terms with it in a different way.

Life and death closely entwined: everyday-life in times of famine at the Horn of Africa. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

In order to help the people living outside the big cities, and who otherwise would have no access to medical treatment, humedica is planning to set up a health centre in the Somali Region. Please support this plan and our relief measures to fight the hunger at the Horn of Africa by means of a targeted donation. Thank you very much.

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference “Famine relief Africa
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also support us in a secure, fast and simple way by means of sending at text message: Simply send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90. By doing so, you will make a donation of 5 euros, with 4,83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica disaster relief projects.

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