Project Stories:

The Kara tribe: help at the other end of the world

humedica intervention team ensures the continued health care of the Kara tribe

by Brigitte Nieberlein, 2017/07/07

For five years now humedica engages for the Kara, a tribe living a simple rustic life in the South of Ethiopia: first by sending out regularly German medical teams, since 2016 also by running a small hospital, which offers continuous medical support for the people.

A few weeks ago intensive care nurse Brigitte Nieberlein travelled with a humedica intervention team to the Kara to treat ill and injured tribe members. Her very personal review shows how such a support can work far away from modern civilisation:

„Even so former medical teams had already given impressive insights in the time they had spent in the South of Ethiopia, I was very excited about my upcoming experiences with the tribe of the Kara. On top this was my first visit to Africa ever! Thanks to the red humedica vest I had no difficulty to locate the other members of my women power-team in the hustle and bustle of the Istanbul airport. From there we all took a flight to Addis Ababa, before we started our two days jeep drive to the Omo region in the South of the country.

humedica Äthiopien Kara

A two weeks intervention for the Kara: the humedica team around Brigitte Nieberlein (in the middle). Photo: humedica

MWith every kilometre ridden our tenseness loosens. The landscape passing before the car windows allows us to arrive finally on site. We travel through fertile farmland, mountains with terrace cultivation and vast open spaces with breathtaking panoramic views. The further we go South, the more barren and dried out the landscape becomes. We see goat and cow herds everywhere, they often walk or stand in the middle of the streets. On the second day of our trip the streets become slopes, for many hours we drive through steppes and scrubland. Now it is becoming really hot!

Temporarily the foreign world lets us forget the time, when in the middle of the landscape suddenly and quite unexpectedly a sign appears pointing out the humedica project. All of a sudden we remember, why we are here. Another two hours drive brings us to our final destination, the small village of Dus. I would feel like being at the other end of the world, if I were not standing in front of a brand-new hospital.

Kara humedica Äthiopien

In the middle of nowhere: the sign pointing out the humedica hospital for the Kara tribe in the South-Ethiopian village Dus. Photo: humedica

Adventurous nights in tents are history, in the freshly installed hospital rooms with proper beds and even a bathhouse with shower and toilet are awaiting us: a real luxury in the middle of the steppe, crowned by the warm welcome of the local team. The hospital property is bordered by the Omo river. Its low water level is alarming and the waterside alluvial land, which is used by the Kara for farming, is limited and dry.

The following days we drive in our jeep to settlements and small villages further away to treat sick and injured people in our mobile clinics. I was lastingly impressed by the fact that people here still live totally isolated from the rest of the world in such a simple, rustic manner. Nevertheless they appreciate our medical assistance very much thanks to the committed work of our German coordinator Trudy, who lives here permanently since one year now. By successfully installing basic structures she has managed to reduce the people´s fear of contact, so they now accept to be treated by “white medics”.

We work in the empty rooms of a little school, under shady trees or in open fields. Personally I found this constantly improvised work especially challenging. Due to the draught our patients often suffer from malnourishment. Vitamins and clean drinking water are lacking, and so we have to treat many gastro-intestinal diseases, eye infections, pneumonia as well as skin and worm infestations. Our to-do-list also includes malaria tests.

Of course we also work on site in the new humedica hospital. Together with the employees we prepare the pharmacy and the treatment rooms, so that we all can work there easily and efficiently. The practitioners in our team have also started to train the motivated local nurses to prepare them to work independently. The hospital has definitely laid the foundation to ensure a better health care for the whole region and will stay a continuous drop-in centre for basic medical treatment.

To me this intervention proved once and again, what can be reached even with quite limited means. The next task is to assist the Kara project also in the future, to provide ongoing support and training of the local personnel to keep it on track. Our joint goal to improve the medical care in the long term will hopefully be accompanied by adequate farming support and enough water. It is my personal aim to visit the Kara again in the next one or two years to continue my assistance of this ambitious target. “

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