“When I look around, I can still hardly believe my eyes”

by Simone Winneg,  2011/01/10

“It is a strange feeling. A year is coming to its end, and at the beginning of the year nothing was the way it is now. This may apply to everyone and everything in the world, but here in Kollo I have become particularly aware of it.

During distributions and hygiene trainings we explain to mothers how they can provide their children and themselves with sufficient nutrients. Photo: humedica/Simone Winneg

On occasion of the Christmas Dinner with our local staff, I realised how many things had changed and I thought back to December 2009, when I had last left Niger in order to go on a holiday in my home-country Germany.

Back then, there had been a little out-patient clinic in Kollo, a clinic that did not take in patients and was very small with only 13 employees. It certainly was efficient, but possibilities at the clinic were very limited. And now? When I look around today, I can still hardly believe my eyes.

Thanks to our new hospital ward we now have the possibility of taking care of 15 in-patients. We have professional employees, excellent equipment and hygienic standards all of which are usually not granted in this part of the world.

Since July, pregnant women have the possibility of attending our hospital not only for pre-birth and follow-up treatment, but they can give birth to their children here under good conditions. They are taken care of by four midwives who are available at the hospital day and night and who have so far assisted with more than 50 births. At times when the in-patient ward did not yet exist, women were not allowed to give birth at our hospital and we had to refer them to the next hospital.

And even more has changed at the hospital. Thanks to the warehouse that has been completed on the hospital grounds, we have finally solved almost all our chronic problems of too little space and only difficult storage conditions and now all our drugs, consumable materials, additives and other things are stored under excellent conditions and appropriate temperatures.

Offering sustainable aid by passing on knowledge to local employees – Simone Winneg with a warehouseman. Photo: humedica/Corinna Blume

What is also new is the fact that there is an employee who is mainly responsible for warehouse management – and this innovation was required urgently with a volume of more than 40 tons of additional food provided by the World Food Programme of the United Nations, with 14 tons provided by the German Federal Foreign Office, and further 38 tons of medical material and equipment.

But not only that! In order to get the famine under control, which had been tormenting the country since April 2010, an extensive undernutrition project could be initiated in cooperation with the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF and thanks to the support of the German Federal Foreign Office. This project comprises not only our hospital, but also eight health centres in the surrounding regions.

Thanks to the urgently needed additional food, more than 2,000 children could so far be prevented from suffering from the consequences of severe or moderate undernutrition.

Actually, nothing is like it had been one year ago. The hospital family has grown by numerous staff members. We have doubled our staff and there are now 27 employees working at the hospital. In addition to our permanent staff, we could once more welcome numerous medical assistants and experts from Germany in 2010.

13 honorary doctors, nurses and assistants with the task of caring for the undernourished have been welcomed at our hospital since May 2010 and at this point I would once more like to thank them – for their unequalled commitment for the people of Niger and above all for the children of Kollo, and for the hope they have brought to our hospital and its patients.

Like a large family – that is how coordinator Simone Winneg describes the staff at the humedica hospital in Kollo. Photo: humedica/Corinna Blume

All the programmes, projects and aims we had set ourselves for 2010 were exceeded by far. While at the beginning we had “only” planned to build the in-patient ward, this plan was not only implemented excellently, but in the process we also solved a large number of other problems caused by people’s misery and we set ourselves further aims for the future.

During all these activities I acted as coordinator, and after I have spent almost one entire year in Niger without interruptions, I have now arrived at the point of leaving the project. It is a strange feeling after so many months filled with countless stories and events, a lot of happiness, but also so much suffering.

Even after a total of two and a half years in Niger, I have still not got used to children dying and I probably never will. But besides the misery and poverty in this country, there are so many moments of hope that fill people’s hearts: wonderful persons who have accepted me like their own daughter.

Mothers who are grateful that we were able to help their children. A glimmer of hope, because we have created something important here; something that has already helped so many persons and will help them also in future.

I am proud when I consider all the things humedica has achieved in Kollo – thanks to you, dear friends and sponsors, thanks to the generous support of the German Federal Foreign Office and the company ALPENSOLAR.

And last but not least thanks to the highly motivated staff members here in Kollo who have always shown their commitment for the population and have not spared any efforts for promoting our projects.

Simone Winneg has worked for humedica in Kollo for a total of two and a half years. Thank you very much for your untiring efforts! Photo: humedica/Karin Wilke

I would like to wish you and the hospital in Kollo a good start into the New Year – with new challenges and new objectives and I hope you will continue supporting our work in Niger also in future.

Kind regards from Kollo

Simone Winneg”

Also in 2011, your support will be needed urgently and will enable us to offer targeted relief to the population in Niger. Send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90 and contribute 5 euros to our relief projects, or make a donation for the humedica hospital via our online form or 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

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