What would the great pleasures be without the small ones?

Coordinator Thomas Adelsberger reports from the refugee camp in Ethiopian Melkadida

by Thomas Adelsberger/ DWA, 2012/10/11

„Having to live with an incurable disease or a disability is not easy in any country of the world - not in Germany and even less in an Ethiopian refugee camp: Here, humedica has run a health post in the camp of Melkadida, not far from the border to Somalia since 2011.

The humedica staff there treat about 799 persons a week, so they daily meet people with all sorts of different diseases and disabilities. For us it is very difficult to bear that we know which medical aids and kinds of medication would be given to these people under different circumstances, yet are not available here due to the limited possibilities in a refugee camp, and that therefore we have to let people go without them.

Also for the general practitioner Rahel Rötlisberger, it is not easy to put up with this situation. The Swiss doctor has been working for humedica since April 2012 and is all the more happy about every single person we can help here at our modest health post in Melkadida.

One of the relatively common among the more “complex“ diseases here is epilepsy. Most people who suffer from this illness arrive in one of the five refugee camps in the south of Ethiopia without having been treated for epilepsy before. Most of them come to our health centre because of an accident they had during an epileptic seizure but not because of the illness itself.

The reason for this is simple and tragic at the same time: in their families, the ailment of these people is often not identified as an illness, but is seen in a religious context. Sometimes the patients are even considered to be mentally ill. In the treatment room of Ms Rötlisberger, these people often learn for the first time that epilepsy is a disease and that with appropriate medication the frequency of seizures can be reduced significantly, some people even become seizure-free.

At this point, Doctor Rötlisberger told me the touching story of Diyad, a 10-year-old boy, who, one day, came into her treatment room with his elderly parents, with a distressed look on his face. “While we were talking, his eyes wandered nervously about the room.” His parents told her about the strong aggressiveness and strange behaviour of their boy.

Rahel Rötlisberger spent much time with the little patient, which is seldom possible with several hundreds of patients in one week. She dug deeper and learnt a lot about Diyad’s family. The boy lived with his relatives in Somalia and had only been in Ethiopian Melkadida for a short time, since his Somali relatives had been unable to cope with him.

The doctor learnt about the history of this boy, who had been suffering from the twitching of his limbs since his early childhood. She heard stories about his former accidents, his sisters and brothers who where always ahead of him in everything and his passion for soccer, which gave the doctor a deeper insight into the life of her young patient. Unfortunately, he had not been able to pursue his favourite hobby of playing soccer, for some time, because of his frequent seizures. The doctor was enthusiastic about his secure walking, his concentrated look and his obviously clear perception of the surroundings and the situation.

Dr. Rötlisberger was sure that the boy suffered from epilepsy. She prescribed him an anti-convulsant and made an appointment with him for a control check-up in the following week. After only one week with appropriate medication Rahel saw a changed Diyad coming into her treatment room - nothing was left of the strange behaviour of his first visit.

Diyad’s parents happily told her about the changes of the past week. They told her, for instance, that the boy had poured his first cup of tea by himself and had washed himself without help. What an improvement in life quality for him and the whole family! He even had restarted playing soccer and played ball with his siblings for the first time.

The Swiss doctor also wanted to support the boy’s returned joy of life personally by presenting him with a soccer ball during his next control visit. Even without having been there it is not difficult to imagine how happy Diyad was about the present!

Nothing stops him from playing soccer now. He has already made many new friends in his soccer team and is visibly transforming into a happy boy, whose illness cannot take his happiness away. Now he is a boy who, thanks to the medicine he regularly takes, can finally rampage like the other children and enjoy life!

Thanks to stories like that of Diyad, Rahel Rötlisberger and the whole humedica-team can tell how good, how important and how fulfilling it is to help people here in Melkadida.”

Everyone can make their wish to help people come true - and so can you! With your donation to humedica for our work in Ethiopia you can support many people in East Africa in their hard fight against hunger and suffering and you can help children like Diyad to experience joy in their life again. Heartfelt thanks!

      humedica e. V.
      Reference „Famine Relief Africa
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

      SWIFT-Code: BYLA DE M1 KFB
      IBAN: DE35734500000000004747

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