26 Dec 2008

Mothers Lodge


The construction of the lodge is coming on and we hope it will be finished by the end of January 2009.

26 Nov 2008

AT LAST …A CONTAINER FOR CUBA!!!!!


Last Saturday we were loading the container bound for Cuba. It really is a big container the size of a trailer truck and we completely filled it. In six hours we were able to transfer over 630 boxes from the storeroom to the container which was situated on the forecourt of a storage area belonging to one of our collaborators. It was really beautiful to see the group of volunteers mostly British but not forgetting people from Holland, Germany, Spain amongst others, working so hard for six long hours without a rest. The volunteers were of all ages from 4 to nearly 80. These good people offered their saturday afternoon to help Cuba which was marvellous considering that most of them have never been to the country and do not have the emotional ties that we Spaniards have with the Pearl of the Antillas.

The boxes containing medicines worth approximately €15.000 which were purchased from Farmamundi (a pharmaceutical NGO from Valencia), disposable medical material (catheters, syringes, needles, tubes, catheters ...) 100 computers (20 of which we had built for us and the rest were donations we refurbished and installed Linux on), rehabilitation and orthopaedic material for the disabled children and elderly people, a dentist's chair plus orthodontist material, crutches, miscellaneous materials for a maternity unit, new and nearly new clothing in very good condition, medical literature, wiring and other materials useful for repairs, hundredes of spectacles, toys etc, etc. We still have supplies left over that can go on the next container.

All the material submitted is checked and scrupulously following the principle that "what is not good enough for us is not good enough for others ." .

A big Thank you to everybody in saturdays team and all to all our donors, Victoria . (See the video on Youtube: CLICK HERE )




A puppet show in Yeka



Just a few short days ago we were in Ethiopia .

We first came accros the school at Yeka just over a year ago, when it was not part of the Mediterranea Project. Now in just a few short months the change in the school is spectacular, with the incorporation of a dining room, a new kitchen and new bathrooms.

We went along to tell the children the story of the “three little pigs” which must have been a huge novelty.

We had the great fortune of having an Ethiopian narrator to help us. The children really enjoyed the performance and at the end of the story we could hear them sing the song that they had heard during the presentation.

23 Nov 2008

Visit to Ethiopia Oct.2008

SCHOOL IN YEKA

There are already 135 children under 5 eating at our school of Yeka. As well as the small children there are still two classrooms for the older ones who haven't attended school previously, among them there is a 23 year old pupil very much looking forward to learning.
The new dining hall we built is very big and it is used as two classrooms . We have recruited, teachers that have joined the senior teachers (who are the ones that teach the adult students ), kitchen staff, guards... a total of 12 people.
There are six new toilets and a shower. I did a medical check up on the children and most of them have a physical delay of 2 or 3 years, showing considerable signs of malnutrition. There are 4-5 year olds that weigh 10 kilos. The check ups gave us the opportunity to establish contact with the families of the children and to evaluate the socioeconomic situation. The families, most of them, are single parents, children under the care of grandparents, children of wood collectors and of seasonal workers. The fact that the children are able to eat at the school will reduce the financial burden that this families suffer and will prevent the possible abandonment of the children due to financial reasons. We sent two children to the ophthalmologist for showing significant squints. We will cover the medical costs for them. The children of Yeka , as well as the ones in Abugida are selected among the poorest, our representative told me that the selection of the new pupils at both schools was very hard because of the large number of applicants.

ABUGIDA SCHOOL

Abugida school looks like paradise. Some adoptive parents bought sports equipment and they have put up some goal nets made with sticks so they have formed a football team and the little ones are enjoying themselves a lot, they were even bought England and Brazil football kits (see videos in Youtube).
The new kitchen is up and running and the room the old kitchen was in is now first year primary.
The reception ceremony in Abugida was fantastic, it gets better every time, they welcomed us with dances and many children were dressed in their national costumes, the football team also all dressed up and they played a mini football match representing Spain and Ethiopia and we danced wildly with the teachers to the Ethiopian rhythm, which means dislocating our shoulders and the whole body in general.
The adult's class was very moving to see, there are even grandmothers ( two of them total swots ), women who attend the lessons while holding their babies in their arms, and some men. In total 60 adult students. They are absolutely thrilled to be attending the lessons, that not only allow them to learn but also in the case of the women, to be able to mix with other people and leave the isolation they tend ton endure in their homes.

ASSIGNMENT OF DOCTORS AND NURSES TO ETHIOPIA

We can say that it is now a reality, there is already a medical team working in Akaki.. An internist doctor and three nurses. They are going to be spending their month holiday working in an altruistic way at the two health centres of Akaki/Kaliti where there is not one doctor. At the beginning of November a General Practitioner and two more nurses will join them. All of them are form Catalonia. This is the first time Mediterranea has sent medical staff to Ethiopia, so we are very pleased. The bureaucracy wasn't easy but we managed to achieve what we wanted. The two centres lack means so we have allocated 3000 Euros to buy medication and disposable material. This will be carried out by the medical team during their stay in Ethiopia. At one of the centres there is an Ethio-Cuban nurse, called Frehiwot, who told us that in Cuba they used to call her Fruti, so now I guess she will be known by this super fantastic and super Cuban name- she is very happy with the presence of the medical team and so are they, since she will be of great help where the language is concerned.

HEADQUARTERS OF MEDITERRANEA IN ADDIS AND FUTURE PROJECTS

We are in the process of becoming accredited in Ethiopia in order to be more independent and be able to do more things. We are thinking of setting up at the Head Quarters a service of health support for women who practise prostitution. The idea is to offer them medical attention with diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases ( including cervical smears that we will send to a laboratory ) and prevention through advice and handing out of condoms. At the same time they will be able to have the quick HIV test if they wish to. We also want our HQ ( Head Quarters ) to be a meeting place for this group of women who are so neglected and in need where they can feel comfortable without feeling judged by anyone.
In order to achieve all this we looked for possible premises near the areas where prostitution is and we found a house that is adequate for us at a good price so we are going to take it before anybody else does; it's between Arat Kilo and the end of Piassa and nearby there is a well known area of prostitution. While we are in the process of being accredited we will start some lessons for adults because we want the HQ to be an active centre. It has a big living room, two bedrooms and a bathroom, all in good condition. something important and to bear in mind for when our health project comes to light and becomes a reality.

This is all for now, please fell free to ask anything you wish.

18 Nov 2008

Mothers Lodge construction in the Ada Hospital



Dr.Philip sent us some shots of how the construction of the Mother's Lodge is going at the Ada Hospital.
The dates on the photos are not correct.

We have been very pleased by the speed at which the construction is coming on.


The idea is to have the building finished by January so that it can be inaugurated along with the Physiotherapy department we will be starting in the hospital.

Dr.Philip asked us to study the possibility of starting an endoscopy department in the hospital. This department would attend a population of 4.5 million people who at present have no access to the help such a department could give them.

27 Oct 2008

Ethiopia projects by numbers

135 are the children we have in our school in Yeka and we employ 13 people there. 2000 euros a month approximately is what it costs us.
165 is the number of children we have in the Abugida school in Akaki where we employ 18 staff. This costs us about 2200 euros.
It is estimated that one person employed in Africa supports on average 10 other people. Therefore Mediterranea through the jobs created indirectly helps support up to 310 people.
More than 900 meals are served every day to children in our schools in Ethiopia.
Counting students, staff and those that indirectly depend on these programs, about 610 people live thanks to these projects.
1000 euros is the monthly budget we have for medical supplies for the health centres in Yeka , Akaki and Kaliti.
240 euros will be what renting premises in Addis Ababa for our future HQ in Ethiopia will cost us.
20 euros a month is approximately what it costs us to feed three times a day, educate and dress a child in our schools.

And we are only 130 members in the organisation...... Imagine what we could do if we were 300!

18 Oct 2008

AGM 2008

Dear Members
On the 24th of October at 5pm we will hold the Mediterranea NGO AGM in the Sta.Ponsa Country Club.
We hope to count with your presence.
If you should not be able to come we will inform you about it through email.
Warm regards,
Michael Stoma (President)

If you have not recieved this as an email it means that we have a wrong address for you. Please send us an email so we can correct our address book.
Thank you.

6 Oct 2008

At last, Mediterranea Medical teams for Ethiopia!

We have at laaaaaast been authorised to send in medical teams to work as volunteers in Addis Ababa. Our first team is ready to head out in the next two weeks form Barcelona and no doubt this will encourage other teams of volunteers. This has not been easy and is a particularly good piece of news as the help these people can provide is of great importance and of course, greatly needed.

Mothers Lodge


Dr.Philip sent us an update on the evolution of the building of the Mothers Lodge. He feels that the job might be finished by Xmas. This would be great as we could inaugurate it early in the new year along with our physiotherapy department.







17 Sep 2008

Reading and writing lessons for women.


It seems a few men crept in to the classes, I guess we will just have to let them stay on. The students are full of enthusiasm and keen to learn. These classes were stared at the same time we started to include first year primary in to the school.

The classes in the Yeka school started in the third week in September. We have now contracted all the staff for the kitchen, dining hall, and the guardians who will be providing security 24hrs a day. At the same time the new teaching staff who will help the senior teachers have been contracted.
We will have three classrooms for the smaller children (140 of them) and the elder ones will use the dining room as a class room.
The Yeka school is special in that it accepts children of any age who have never had the chance of going to school before. There they will spend two years till they catch up with their contemporaries. Rain slowed down the final phase of the construction of the dining hall. But we are up and running now.

13 Sep 2008

Roland and the staff at the Hotel Gran Vista


Every week Roland (a member of Mediterranea) and his staff carry out an activity to raise funds for our projects. Their support is very important for our projects.

We would like it if other businesses would follow in their generous steps.

9 Sep 2008

Sod cutting ceremony for Mother's Lodge construction.



On the 8/9/08 the Sod Cutting Ceremony was carried out in the Ada Dangme East Hospital. Present were very important members of the community and the two teams set up by Mediterranea NGO to carry out and supervise the building of the Mother's Lodge.



We will keep you infrmed on this site of the evolution of the building.


2 Sep 2008

More re projects in Addis

We have excellent news about the women’s basic literacy classes in Abugida: they’ve already started with 45 enthusiasic scholars. And we think that next course they will be even more women! They are happy to have this chance, and really looking forward to learn.

Thanks to this classes, they’ll feel more dignified and worthy, and they will be able to get jobs that were unthinkable before: knowing how to read and to write radically changes personal status in Ethiopia – for the best.

In spite of the poverty they live in, these women are receiving the kind of training that will enable them to confront their daily lives with new faith in themselves and their capacities, as well as become more active members of their society.

150 children have been registered in Yeka. Theoretically, we should do a selection, as we counted on a smaller number. But… just how can we do that?
The situation in Ethiopia is very, very tough, and these kids come from abject poverty – and that, in Ethiopia is to be very, very, very poor.

We wish we had Unicef’s budget, but as we don’t… we’ll have to look for more members!

So, adding up the 150 Yeka children to the 160 in Abugida we have a total of 310 kids!!! Let’s see if I can sleep tonight… as that means we will be serving 930 meals a day.

And, at least, it looks as if it’s going to be possible to send doctors and nurses to work as volunteers in Addis, let’s hope so!

And we keep on working…

I remember all the people that warned me about Ethiopia: “it’s impossible to do anything there… Africa is very difficult… “ OK, it’s true that it’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either. And the proof is there: with the help of donors and members, with good will and hard work, IT IS POSSIBLE. And it’s very nice to do it in Ethiopia: because all help iss very necessary, because ethiopians are wonderful people… I might be not very objective, but…

Again, thanks to all of you for your help: without it, it would have been indeed impossible.

28 Aug 2008

Email from our representative in Addis

Hi Victoria,
First and at most, the women who are learning in the informal class at Akaki have told me to forward their thanks for providing them a basic education and they are short in words to express their feeling. They are also asking if the class will continue for the coming year and they wish it will. Three teachers are giving them lessons and they are around 45. May be this number will increase in the coming year.
About the # of the children joining the school for next year at Yeka, we have registered about 150 to screen. I think that as there are so many needy children, 140 is not too much comparing with the # of absolutely poor children in the area. We are planning to use the dining hall as a class room by dividing it with a carpet so that there will not be any problem in this regard. I am looking for a rented place at the piassa area and inform you. I will also look to hire the nurse and social worker. I will contact the medical director at yekatit 12 when we know the details about the volunteers. I will send you the details from the ministry of justice soon.
Warm regards
Adugna

26 Aug 2008

Mission to Ghana, August 2008. Jayne Coombs and Michael Stoma.

Once back home, after a short and intensive trip to Ghana, the whole thing seems like a dream. The photographs on our memory sticks remind us that it was all real.

The mission was frankly a great success. We were able to carry out all the things we wanted to do and we were able to find out lots of things we wanted to know in reference to our operations in the country. We even had the honour of being shown by a king/chief his kingdom. These kings are voted in to their post and remain there if their subjects are happy with them. This gentleman and king, Nene Tsatsu Pediator IV has been in the post for over 30 years. His background as a university professor and his years of experience have probably molded him into a humble, observant intelligent man with a good sense of humour. We saw first hand how he is admired by his people and we could see he was well aware of their problems and was looking for ways of solving them.

Our main objectives were:---

1)Do the ground work so as to be able to set up the physiotherapy centre in the Dangme East Ada Hospital.We have all the equipment we will need for this project as it has been kindly donated to us by the Jones family. We will have to ship it down to Tema (the main port in the country) and then truck it out to Ada about 180km away.

2)Evaluate the possibility of building a Women's Lodge with showers, bathrooms, kitchens and a play area for children, in the grounds of the hospital. Mothers come from many miles away to hospitalise their sick children, and then have to sleep outside or in the corridors as till now there was no place for them. Outside you will find, crocodiles (we saw one, small, but a crocodile) over 20 types of snakes, rats, spiders, and what is worse than all that, malaria transporting mosquitoes.

3) Deliver supplies to the laboratory (which we put installed last year), the hospital and to evaluate future medical projects.

4)Visit Drifting Angels Orphanage in Ho. We wanted to see if the tractor we had delivered was being used correctly and to evaluate the possibility of further collaborations.

Evolution:

1)The hospital allowed Jayne to choose the room she wanted for the physiotherapy department. We were taken to the largest physiotherapist centre in the country and we were greeted by the director speaking perfect Cuban. Tens of thousands of Africans from all nations have been educated in Cuba and have returned to their countries bringing with them expertise and a great social awareness. The centre offered to send graduate physiotherapists to our centre and have started the process to register Jayne in the country.

The medical director of the Dangme East Hospital is Dr.Philip Narh, he with the help of another doctor and a team of nurses attend a population of about 186000 souls.
Unfortunately a very high percentage of doctors that graduate in Africa emigrate to other countries as soon as they can so a very high percentage of the medical attention people receive in the continent is given by a wonderful army of highly trained and dedicated nurses.

Dr.Narh ascertained that we would have no problems bringing the container of supplies in to the country so long as all the supplies were for the hospital.

In January 2009 Jayne will return to Ghana to get the centre up and running and to train the team that will man it. In this country there is a high incidence of strokes, accidents, and back problems due mainly to very tough work conditions. Life expectancy is about 50 years. A physiotherapy centre has low running costs and these specialists take over when doctors have reached that point in that all they can do is give pain killers. Physiotherapists reduce the pain, stop the deterioration or at least slow it down and in the majority of cases, obtain an improvement in the quality of life of the patients. It is a very cost effective system of treating people.

2)Women's Lodge. We explained to Dr.Narh that we only had a week in which to make up our minds in reference to this project. So in just under a week we had meetings with, the hospital administrator, estate manager, accountant, head nurse, medical director, a local architect that drew up the plans for the buildings in 48hrs, meetings with builders, an interview on the local radio, and we formed a committee to supervise the project. All was pending on the final estimate and our decision was made shortly before leaving. Trainee builders would be used to cut down costs, bricks would be made by the builders and not bought, and every effort would be made by the hospital to control expenditure. The hospital asked us to help them establish an endoscopy department for a catchment area of 4.5 milion people. They understood that the more this Women's Lodge cost the further away they would be pushing the endoscopy project. We are honoured to have Nene Pediator, Professor Akpanglo(also a chief), Kofi Larweh (radio Ada director), the hospital estate manager Mr Mattew Narchidah and Dr.Narh on the committee.
During our last meeting Dr.Narh asked me if all this was real. He mentioned that lots of NGOs had come down and promised things that then had never materialised. I answered that we had told him we would help the hospital have a Biochemistry laboratory, and we set up a new one, sent down a team to train the hospital staff and since then we have kept them supplied with the chemicals they need. I had said we could send doctors, and we sent 2 dermatologists last year, I said we would deliver medicines and supplies and to date we have taken over over 5000€ of medicines and disposable goods, a lap top, books, and a doppler for pregnant women and vascular pathology. At this point he interrupted me asking me not to be offended and said that we were the first organisation to ever give something new, first hand, to the hospital. Just before our arrival a container had arrived form central Europe loaded in old medical gear including rusty beds, urine smelling mattresses and a broken dental chair which looked to weigh about 250kg. The 3rd world is becoming the garbage dump of the first world. The hospital will now have to send all this stuff many miles to the nearest scrap merchant. I must admit that the container had had some crutches and a walker or two which Jayne promptly bagged for her department and so we stuck Mediterranea stickers on all the bits and bobs she wanted. They will be put to good use.

3) We handed over 100kg of medical supplies to the hospital. KLM allows you 2 bags of 23kg each and a 12kg hand bag.

4)We visited the orphanage near Ho. The smaller children were awaiting us and sang songs and danced to celebrate our arrival. The older children were out in the fields helping with the harvest. The tractor we donated them was being used but not to its full potential as a they did not have a plough, so we gave them the funds to buy one as soon as possible. The tractor will now help in the productivity of the farm which will help with the financing of the orphanage.
The number of children is now 98 and there are over 20 senior citizens that go there during the day as a day nursing home. 80% of the children sleep on the floor. They were given some beds with foam mattresses but the little children wet the beds and the mattresses rotted so it is back on the floor for the children. A few plastic sheets would have sufficed.

The remarkable pensioner couple who started and run the orphanage have a tremendous responsibility and the stress must be very great for them. They are perpetually looking for ways to be able to pay all the bills. Costs are increasing all the time and load is greater as from now because some of the older children will have to go and stay in the capital so as to be near their university or training centres.
They want to build a little school for their children, that way they will save on school fees and at the same time they can have outside children coming to class which would provide some income for the orphanage. When they heard about our school projects in Ethiopia they were very interested as in the town where they are, there are quite a few street children that get no education. They liked the idea of feeding children so that the children come to class.

Just before we flew we had a call from them as we had asked for the estimate for building the school. It all came to 4500€.

The little boys wanted to show us how well they play football and the orphanage has been allowed to present its team to the local championships. The problem is they have no uniforms or boots.
They reminded me of my children when they used to say "Daddy look at me. Look what I can do!" asking for recognition and encouragement. All children are the same. My heart went out to them. In that moment really needed a father figure to watch and admire them, I would have liked to have given them more.

Before leaving we were informed that the construction of the Women's Lodge would be ready by the end of the year (since then an email has arrived stating that the construction begins on the 6th of September) and that the hospital would like to have an official inauguration of the new Physiotherapist unit and the Women's Lodge.

The guest house, food and our chauffeur driven car were all paid for by the hospital. We were very touched by this. This is the first time this has been done to members of Mediterranea.

7 Aug 2008

100 Members !!


We made it, we are now 100 strong !!

Help us reach the 300. We need 300 to give us a financial stability so as to maintin our schools and be able to give out 900 meals a day to the children we look after in Addis Ababa.

6 Aug 2008

Ghana Expedition

Tuesday very early we, Jayne and myself (Michael) will set of via Barcelona and then Amsterdam to finnaly arrive in Accra by near to 7pm local time. Civilised KLM kindly allowes travelers to carry a reasonable ammount of luggage (just over 100kg between the two of us) so we will be taking supplies for the Dangme East hospital according to the list we recieved from the hospital. We plan to do the ground work for the physiotherapist unit and to then go and visit the Drifting Angels orphanage in Ho. As many of you know we have provided this orphanage with a tractor, medicines, clothes and we will be evaluating the possibility of installing a system for the orphanage to get water out from under the ground not only to water their land but to sell it to near by farms too. If we can help them make an income then they will have less problems paying for the education, clothing, nutrition and medical attention of the near to 100 children they have there.

On the agenda is the possibility of building a dormitory for mothers with hospitalised children. At present they sleep in the road side or where ever they can. We would like them to have a couple of dormitories, bathrooms and a kitchen. A the same time we would like to build a room for visiting Mediterranea and other NGO volunteers. This way they can stay close to the hospital specially if they are working there as collaborating staff.

31 Jul 2008

Loss

This morning I had a phone call to tell me that Robert Murray passed away yesterday. I was very struck by the news, not only because I have known him and his family for many years and have become very fond of them, but also because he has always helped Mediterranea.

Yesterday the poor lost a friend.

In October I will be delivering supplies to Cuba, a large number of these (particularly medicines) were bought with funds raised by Robert and some of his friends. He will be in our thoughts particularly during that mission.
Thank you Robert for your friendship and help.
Hasta pronto, amigo.
Michael Stoma


Boxes for Cuba
On Sunday six of us went to our ware house in Illetas and packed, labeled, classified and measured boxes we will ship to the places we collaborate with in Cuba (see on the web for more details). It was hot, very hot. And so far we have 529 boxes packed and ready, that is about 39 cubic meters. We intend to fill an 80 cubic meter container. With a bit of luck we will be able to include an ambulance or a vehicle to transport physically handicapped children.

Notes written by a Mediterranea Volunteer to Addis


June 2008

I have been trying for days to put in to order my experiences with Mediterranea. It isn't because writing is in any way difficult for me. Neither is it for lack of feelings and emotions. It is simply because I don´t know how to put such experiences in to some kind of an order, or how to reflect them without seeming blase , neither do I wish to be over-sentimental or exaggerated.

When the chance of travelling to Addis with this small NGO emerged, I got scared. I´m a typical product of a Western society and I look face on at how most of the world lives …. well, I didn't really like the idea initially. I feel good by doing my bit for the world, recycling, switching off lights, buying at fair trade shops, helping a NGO, getting angry about injustices …. But, living it face to face? I was distressed. Well, I´m going to stop the euphemisms: I was distressed and I´m not exactly a little languid flower.
When I expressed my fear to Victoria, who is the person in charge of Mediterranea´s Ethiopian projects, I was sincere. “You don´t know how silly I feel. I´m going to spend the journey crying.”
“Don´t worry,” she told me. “At these schools nobody cries, they only laugh and a lot, because the children are happy and because many nice and good things are done there.”
“Yes, OK,” I thought, “blah, blah, blah.” I thought her answer was a way of calming me down. And just in case, on the way, I put three packets of hankies into the suitcase….
But, once again, I was wrong. Because it´s true, I spent two days crying but after the third one I laughed. A lot. Sometimes with a sense of black humour – as black as oil or its price. But, especially I laughed heartily. But never before had I been exposed to such sad and heart-rending stories as the ones I heard from women with their heads bowed and men whose life had been shattered by their destiny. Or the horrific accounts I read in the eyes of abused children or of sick parents. But, at the same time, never until then had I changed my role from passive spectator, ‘voyeur’ of other people´s misfortune, to an active participant in the relief of these dramas. Something which makes a world – sorry, a universe – of difference.

The first day I couldn't stop crying. I wanted to contain myself but I couldn't. It has been hours since my last experience, even so tears were continuing to stream from my eyes (red) but I couldn't avoid it. In fact, I was on a terrace with my travel mates, sharing a table with an Ethiopian couple, when I realised that the eyes of the female of that couple were fixed on me. She talked to her companion in Amariña, the language of the country. The boy turned and he asked me straight. “My friend says you are crying, is that true?” I could say that I had three or four sarcastic answers in my head but it is not true. I could only nod. “Why?” What would I tell her? I preferred not to go into details.
Crying is embarrassing.
On the second day I cried a lot less. Especially because I was embarrassed. Really embarrassed and with a sense of shame. I don´t know, I think there is something obscene about crying in front of people who are living real tragedies.
Our tears of commiseration are inevitable but easy. It is difficult to hold oneself, especially for someone as inexperienced as me, but I know that protagonists of these stories are not only worth tears but solidarity, true and effective.

On the third day, I felt strong. The fourth day, I felt ready to truly help. Because I understood I was not only a spectator but also part of the solution. Because the money we had been sending (that act so real but at the same time so cold) had done things. Really. There were children whose appearance during the 10 months of the school year had experienced spectacular changes. Mothers who had not had to give their children up. Parents who had found work. Sick men who knew that if something happened to them, their children would have a refuge. Grandmothers who were receiving that vital help. Then, everything made much more sense.
The case which could better sum up the feeling of doing something is of a woman, whose story I have recorded in my soul. A woman arrived at the surgery, nervous, she was hiding a piece of paper inside a school exercise book. It took us time to realise what was happening: she was gabbing, crying, getting nervous …. it was her husband´s AIDs test result: positive. She had just found out. We encouraged her to undergo the test as well. “No, no, no.” She was terrified. “No.” She was crying. She was repeating, “No" and again she was crying. “I´m afraid, I´m afraid.” We convinced her to do it, “If you are infected, it could be treated,” we assured her. “There is no point being ignorant of it,” we were repeating to her time and time again: “you are a mother, you have to be all right.”
Two days later, she came back. The AID´s test was positive. She was also sick. She couldn't even talk, she only held out her hand– crying, trembling – with the fateful sheet of paper in it. What do you say to someone in that situation? Nothing. You hug her, you hug her strongly, heartily, because you don´t know what more you can do. You hug her because life is unfair, because you are there and because, at that moment, you can´t do much more. And what is strange is that hug is made of gold. Because probably no-one had hugged her before, because, for sure, she won´t tell anybody that she is sick: the stigma is too big. If someone knew, she would lose her job and, because of it, food for her children. Never again could she repeat it, neither to her parents nor her children. Then, what is important, in that moment is that someone touches her, hugs her and kisses her.
The best thing, fortunately, is that our help doesn't necessarily have to end like that, although it is a lot. We can promise her that her children will go to school, also nobody will expel them from the classroom for being positive. Also, someone will come back regularly to know she is OK, to make sure that with the medication she is able to live a lot longer. She will see her children growing up and, if she is sacked from her job, we will be able to help her.

Misery is like war.
This has been only one case. There are a lot, a lot. Cases of people who have not done anything wrong expect to be born where they were born. Ortega said; “I´m me and my circumstances.” You bet! Because there are circumstances – and there are circumstances.
Once I heard an Ethiopian doctor. She said: “People are afraid of war because it invades but misery is like war, it also invades and destroys what lies in its path.”
And it is true: poverty hurts, it stupefies and drives us mad. But with stories of parents who abandon their children, mothers who leave when they know their children are sick, leaving their babies or grandparents alone, who push their children and grandchildren away if someone is HIV positive. There are stories which only talk about solidarity and love. Like the one about a grandmother, dry and bent like a contorted vine , who, with a 8€ pension, has taken in the daughter of her neighbour who died of AIDs and brings her up as her daughter, her only fear being that something could happen to her and the little child would be abandoned …. The 17-year-old boy who takes care of his two sisters of 11 and five years and works cleaning shoes to keep all three together after their father left them …. The man who fell ill with terminal AIDs, who makes a great effort not to lose his job and also to keep his two children … The good-hearted woman who puts up with her husband´s maltreatment because she refuses to put on to the street the child who took refuge with them after his mother died, even though she has another three children and does not have one bean left over.
There are good and bad people on all sides, in the First and in the Third World, but it became blatantly apparent that to be generous and show solidarity when you yourself are going through such hardship, is an amazing and wonderful thing.

Once, one of my relatives told me that in those countries, as women had more babies, they loved them less, they felt towards their children in a way different to us. I would like to throw that back in the face of the person who said it and confront that person face to face. They are resigned, yes, maybe because the little strength they have, they need it to survive and to move forwards, but they don´t feel less, nor differently.
A friend said to me that it´s not enough to talk like a "Miss" in a beauty contest : ¨What I ask for is peace in the world and no hunger¨. what we have to do is get up and actively work against the problems and injustices.

I do not feel guilty of how the world is . I did not design it. However, I belong to the part which takes advantage of the situation. I was born in the ¨ best ¨side. That one for whom poverty (other peoples poverty) is often very convenient, whether or not we have directly created the poverty. Because of this, I do not feel responsible for it. However, I can check that the help we send is real help, that it changes their fate , that it betters their chances. Because I did not choose where I was born. Neither did they as a matter of fact . And also because I have had the fortune , the immense fortune of being a witness to the help we are providing. And I have seen that our effort does produce results. This help changes people ´s fate. Not everybody´s , but some people's . And this is an important concept when is said with a cool head.
When our eyes meet, skin to skin, hand in hand. Then, there is no choice: We are forced not to forget people who are on the other side of the walls of our well-off society.
SM

29 Jul 2008

Ghana Physiotherapy Center and School


In August Jayne Coombs a physiotherapist from Therapy First here on the island (Mallorca) will be going to East Dagme hospital in Ghana. She will be accompanied by Dr.Michael Stoma.
Jayne will be opening a much needed physiotherapy clinic at the hospital with 25,000 euros of donated equipment from a very special family who lived for a time here in Mallorca. The hospital which currently has no physiotherapy facilites is a sixty bed hospital with only two doctors two pharmacists and twenty six nurses. 24,000 patients a year are seen at the hospital. In December Jayne hopes to open the clinic and begin to treat patients who have survived a stroke, developed paresis or plegia and have a variety of neurological and orthopaedic conditions. In addtion she will begin to train local personnel at the hosptial to carry on treatement when she comes back to Mallorca but will be returning to treat and support the clinic on an ongoing basis.
The ability to carry out this project which includes transport of the equipment provision of professional personnel and the provision of supplies is totally through private funding.
If you would like to donate any supplies such as bandages or orthopadic supports please contact Jayne Coombs at 667732992 or to make a donation to the Physiotherapy Clinic Project, East Dagme Hospital through www.mediterranea.org.es