"... there's nothing on the news!"

by Simone Winneg, 2011/02/25

"Unfortunately this is true - the disaster that has taken place in Niger is invisible. There is no obvious damage, nor are there ruins, or floods. Everything looks just the same as ever. Only when looking carefully, you realise that there is something wrong. For example when looking at the skinny children who are standing by the roadside, or the numerous children taking part in our nutrition programme who are in a dismal state of health.

One of the many large families in Kollo. Photo: humedica

After three weeks of holidays in the Allgäu, Bavaria, I return to Africa - 30 degrees difference in the temperature, 100% less precipitation and I am entering another world. In the meantime, after having worked more than two years in Niger and spending only little time in Germany, switching between the two worlds has become almost normal to me.

During my holidays many people asked me: "What is happening in Niger? Why is humedica active there and why have you been working there for such a long time? ...There's nothing on the news!?" My answer that Niger experienced the worst famine for decades in 2010, is simply met by surprise. Why has this been completely disregarded by the world public? Why has no one heard about it?

When talking to the locals, you are told that no one had had food anymore, that food prices had been too high to sustain the partly very large families. But this does not provide spectacular pictures.

No one back home knows that Niger is the least developed and one of the poorest countries in the world. Neither do they know that in Niger children die from diarrhoea and respiratory diseases day by day.

It makes me sad to see that the Nigeriens' misery is met by complete disregard here. That no one seems to be interested in what has happened in Niger and in the immense efforts taken by non-governmental organisations, the government and organisations of the United Nations in order to more or less overcome this crisis.

Mother and child at the in-patient and birthing ward. Photo: humedica/Arnold Breuer

All the more important is the work and support humedica has been able to offer in Kollo. We will soon celebrate the second "birthday" of the hospital in Kollo! I can still hardly believe that the hospital has been operating for such a long time now and I cannot stop wondering about all the things that have happened in this actually very short time:

a health station where more than 20,000 out-patients could be treated, a well-equipped laboratory, the nutrition programme, a new warehouse, the inauguration of the in-patient and birthing ward, the introduction of preventive check-ups and more than 30 international honorary doctors and nurses taking part in the mission... A lot of work, a lot of commitment and motivation that has been worth it!

The short break in Germany has paid off: I return to my work with new energy - and (as always) there is enough to do. Belated reports need to be compiled as soon as possible, a shipment of almost six tons of relief goods needs to be collected, the staff contracts will soon have to be extended, new shipments of additional food to the external health stations need to be organised and carried through.

There is no time to get bored - and there is loads of work ahead of us, since we want to continue the numerous programmes maintaining the standards we have reached so far.

Simone amidst a group of children. Photo: humedica

For all this we need your continuous support! All the projects and progress we could implement here over the past months and years, need to be continued! Dear friends and sponsors, please support our important plans!

Send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90 and contribute to our relief efforts with 5 euros, donate for the humedica hospital in Niger via our online form, or make a donation in the traditional way to the account below.

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference "Hospital Niger"
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

Kind regards from Kollo,

Simone Winneg"

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