Just a quick update from the La La Land…yes, that’s an actual place when you’re under anesthesia. For those who have not heard, a week before Team 1 left for Ethiopia, Project Mercy contacted Global Partners for a malfunctioned anesthesia monitor. Because of that, Gundersen donated a monitor, and I packed it in my checked luggage. Unfortunately, it didn’t survived the international trip. The LCD screen was cracked when I opened my suitcase. At that point I almost thought that my role on this mission trip was over. By the grace of God, we have received news from Project Mercy that their broken monitor was now fixed. My role as anesthetist was now “reinstated.”
Although I was at this hospital last year, I had forgotten just how much I have missed this place. From the patients I have served to the friendly staff I have met. As I yelled out, “En-Ma-Ma, Tan feushi” (or “take a deep breath, mam” in Amharic) to my patient yesterday morning, I suddenly remembered that I had learned this phrase before. My memory was now slowly coming back. In the past few days, I learned a lot being in an Ethiopian operating room. Not only did I provide anesthesia on a 1-year-old with an adult manual blood pressure cuff for the most part of the case, I also used an empty 4-by-8 gauze container as a pillow, and an IV bag as axillary roll. Talk about using what we had to improvise…
I’m so glad I have the opportunity to come back to Ethiopia and to Project Mercy. I have missed the amazing Ethiopian culture, the familiar faces and, above all, the friendly people I have met. I now understand the importance of building relationships with the people and this place, rekindling old friendships and making new ones. And I know, without a doubt, that these friendships will not end anytime soon.
Isaiah 60:1 says, “Let your light shine for all the nations to see! For the glory of the Lord is shining upon you.” May our mission be a shining light for the people we serve here in Project Mercy.
Mornings are my favorite time of the day here. It is so cool and fresh. Sig and I have been getting up just before the sun actually rises to walk around the perimeter of the compound. If we are early enough, we can catch the sun as it pops over the eastern mountains. It is a breathtaking sight. We also enjoy seeing the variety of birds as they greet the new day. We saw one blue colored bird on our first morning that looked like an indigo bunting. Yesterday we caught two tiny red colored birds bathing in the irrigation ditch. Once a week water from the spring in the mountain is diverted to this area to water the fields. The birds we watched were enjoying their weekly bath so much, they didn’t seem to notice onlookers.
While Sig has been busy in the OR, I have been helping with the vision screening. We have checked most all of the house kids and the staff here, and up at the clinic. Last year, Sig noticed that most of the scissors (I know there is a more technical term for them, but they all look like scissors to me), were terribly dull. So, during the year, we scouted out ways to bring a sharpening device that would work for surgical instruments. Happily we found one, and were able to get some instruction from the man who does the sharpening for the hospital back home. So, on Tuesday, I set up my “shop” at the clinic, and the staff brought me all kinds of scissors to sharpen. Later that afternoon, Dr. F gathered all the OR team and I did a demonstration of how to operate the machine with the hope that they will be able to continue sharpening their dull equipment.
Wednesday morning, while back at Project Mercy, we were continuing with the vision screening when a little boy came in looking for “Julie.” Once we figured out it was me he was looking for, he said that I was wanted at the hospital. I was taking my time, gathering my things, when he said, “They are waiting for you!” I looked out the door and they had sent the hospital ambulance to take me up to the clinic. I guess they take their scissor sharpening very seriously here! Once there, I had the opportunity to train two of the OR staff on a one to one session on operating the machine. They were very quick to learn, and I am confident they will be able to continue to use it successfully.
I know that the small sharpening machine we brought will probably not be adequate to handle the many dull instruments that need fixing, they could really use the more substantial, commercial grade equipment. But it is a start. And I was greatly rewarded when Dr. F saw me today and thanked me for the sharp instruments he was able to use during his morning surgery.
I was reminded of how blessed we are to be here, and to contribute in any small way we can. Yesterday during vision screening I met a woman whose name is Desta. The interpreter told me her name means “Joy.” He went on to say that her last name means “ Given” Joy Given, what a beautiful way to express the privilege of being with these beautiful people.
– Jean Ann
This is Kathy. A few blogs ago, Devin mentioned an Ethiopian dish we had for breakfast called Bula. Lali (Marta and Demi’s son) really wanted us to try this. We later found out that he doesn’t like it and won’t eat it. So what was he thinking?!?! Bula is a custard-like porridge. It has a smooth texture and creamy color. It really does not taste very good. Lali said we should put sugar or spices on it. Some of us tried that – it did not help. Rosie said it tasted like paste but she would eat it again – if she was starving. Katie said it tasted like goobers going down her throat (goobers???). Cheryl tried it and went “blaaahhh….” Then there was Jacky. He liked it. It reminded him of his porridge growing up as a young boy in China.
I decided to find out what exactly Bula is and how it is made. It is a fascinating and very labor-intensive process. Bula is made from the Enset tree which is also called a False Banana tree because that is what it looks like, however, these trees never bear bananas. Bula is usually made during the dry season. An Enset tree is dug up and a large hole is made in the ground. The hole is lined with a plastic sheet, then layers of the large Enset leaves, then paper on top. The root and trunk of the Enset tree, which contains a lot of water, is then shaved and chopped. Periodically this “pulp” is squeezed out by hand, with the water going into the prepared hole. (The pulp is then set aside to make a different dish called kocho). After the trunk has been completely shaved, it is time to finish the hole. Bula is actually made from the sediment in the water that has sunk down onto the paper in the hole. The water at the top is skimmed off and discarded. The paper in the hole (containing the sediment) is then wrapped up and more layers of Enset leaves are added to cover up the hole. Rocks are piled on top. Now the Bula ferments. It must stay in the ground at least one month, but can stay there up to 10 years!! The longer it stays in the ground, the better it tastes (ya, right.)
When they are ready to eat Bula, they dig it up, take the sediment from the paper, put it in a pail and rinse and drain it several times. They are left with a heavy, almost clay-like mixture. This is broken up, then placed in the sun, eventually drying to a nice, flour-like texture. Bula does have some nutritional value. New mothers will usually eat it for two months after giving birth. When ready to eat, just add water and heat. Then add milk, melted butter and whatever else you want. Personally, I would have to top it with a huge jar of hot fudge sauce before I would try it again although I do have a new respect for how it is made!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHERYL
Greetings and thanks to all who are following the blogs. We are all having a great time and enjoy the people at Project Mercy, and I’m especially appreciative of my fellow volunteers who tolerate me and all my sayings…like unity for an infinity scarf, calling the waiter “Walter” when his name tag stated waiter. My co-workers will get the drift!!
So I’ve enjoyed a surprise birthday on Wednesday evening with cake and singing the birthday song in English and in Amharic by our fellow Ethiopian friends at dinner. What a surprise and MmMm whipped frosting over angel food cake. So needless to say, I thought I would just let another day go but everyone has been so kind with greetings, and I’ve been in the best of company. Thanks to Team one group who each signed a picture with their name in English and Amharic and my sister Cindy for the card and chocolate and Rosie for the delivery. Thanks also to Rosie for great card and gift certificate and Sally and Jeff for the homemade gift and cards.
While the rest of the staff has been busy at the hospital with surgery and vision screening, I’ve been enjoying the company of the house children in the sewing room. All 40 children now have brightly colored backpacks. I was able to sit with each one while they selected there color of fabric and string and then to sewed it together. Wow, at one time I think I had 20 children in the room at the same time. Once they had finished, they all signed their bag in Amharic and/or English. During one of these past days we also took out the yarn with the knitting needles and crochet hooks. Most are very happy to see so many supplies and now have started projects. Just today while walking around the grounds, I had seen a couple of girls carrying a plastic bag with the yarn and they were knitting while walking…something I can’t do!!! Also today several of the children were sitting around the sewing tables making friendship bracelets and necklaces. There are some interesting ways that they create such colorful items. I was delighted to receive such a priceless gift from the Ethiopian friends.
Earlier in the week, I was able to present to the cooking staff aprons and calico hats to wear. I’m truly touched to see them wear these every day. The surgical staff have also received the surgical caps and bonnets and I hear they also enjoy wearing them. I don’t think I made enough so will have to get busy for next year. My co-sewers will also be helping me make new curtains for the college and recycle heavy old green gowns from the surgery department for more aprons. The house mother that I was able to teach sewing to last year has now access to the sewing room and mends the children’s clothing and has helped finish projects. I was glad to see all curtains that had been started last year hanging in windows of the school.
Everyone has been enjoying the awesome food. The fresh salad with avocados, tomatoes, onions, and fresh greens has been a real treat every night. We hope to get the recipe for the dressings. Of course we also enjoy the fresh ground and brewed coffee at every meal, homemade bread and fresh vegetables from the garden. We also enjoy the staple food of waht and ingera along with the spices of berbere and mitmita.
An adventure to the market in Butajira this afternoon was made by several of us and some of the house children. Thanks to our interrupters Tesfiye and Basa who could barter with the sellers. Some were able to purchase wooden crosses, baskets and Ethiopian soccer shirts. We also were able to stop and get papaya, mangoes, and pineapple to enjoy.
Well we have been enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery and hear your updates of cold and snow. We are all happy to give back to people that are so thankful for everything that we can offer. These people at Project Mercy warm our hearts, and we love them all. Keep us all in your thoughts and prayers.