On this mission trip to Ethiopia, our team of nine volunteers based out of an orphanage where we treated its 160 adorable young residents and served the community population through clinic at the local hospital.
When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by children, children, and more children! They were so excited we were there and hugged us all enthusiastically. They showed us around the orphanage and picked fruits vegetables from their garden for us to try. Their beautiful smiles and infectious laughter made us feel welcome and right at home.
The next day we spent in clinic seeing all of our young hosts and treating them for a variety of ailments that are common in areas where there is limited access to health care, such as fungal infections and parasites. We even diagnosed one little girl who wasn’t feeling well with appendicitis, and were able to get her to a nearby hospital for treatment. We taught the children the importance of hand washing, basic hygiene, and clean drinking water, and how to help someone who is choking.
“I am pleased to say that Clinic Day 1 has already changed my life. Spending two days with the children is a blessing. The smiles on their faces and laughter and cheer in their hearts have put my own life into greater perspective.” – Don, Team Ethiopia volunteer
We saw about 100 patients on the first day at the hospital clinic. One of our patients was a local priest. He was so revered in the community that the hospital staff members kissed his staff and cross as he passed to show their admiration. We showed our respect for him and our hosts by tending to him immediately and providing some relief for his back pain. Our sole physician on the trip was kept busy diagnosing conditions but she still made time to offer learning opportunities to our four med and pre-med students.
In our last full day of clinics, our team received great field experience helping the doctors in the local hospitals. As a result, they really gained an appreciation for the conditions we have in our medical facilities in the U.S. We were absolutely amazed by how these heroic doctors and nurses are able to accomplish so much with so little. Our medical providers offered suggestions where they could to the local doctors; one of our RNs was able to show them an effective way to find veins in children to give them IVs. She even gave her own vein finder to the doctors to help make their jobs a little easier.
At the end of the day, we celebrated at the orphanage with the children’s birthday celebration. Because many of the children have no recorded birthday, IMR has made it a tradition every year to throw a birthday party for everyone. We gave the children treats and gifts, then we painted faces and fingernails, braided hair, played games, and had a wonderful time. The children went to bed long after their regular bedtimes, exhausted and happy.
We were exhausted and happy, too, but so fortunate to have been able to make a difference in the lives and health of the people we met. We look forward to another journey to Ethiopia.