Today I drove a girl home from the hospital. Her family wanted her to
die at home. I drove the green truck very carefully, trying to avoid
as many of the bumps as possible. Every so often her family and the
staff who had come to help with the stretcher and try to provide
comfort had to get out so I could drive across a stick bridge or make
it up a steep hill. I did my best, but she still cried out in pain.

Seventeen-year old Asaitu didn't know that by choosing to become
intimately involved with her friend would lead to pregnancy. Trying to
salvage her reputation and get rid of her "problem," she decided to
try to self-abort with a stick. She had no clue about the
consequences of these decisions. How could she have predicted that
she would get an infection, that her left leg would become gangrenous
and have to be cut off at the groin, and that the infection would
spread to her other leg, sealing her fate?

Sleeping with her boyfriend and then having an abortion; obviously bad
decisions, but still, two mistakes and now she has to die? Why does
she have to bear the brunt of her choices, and so many other people
don't? I've sinned before, and I'm still alive; why her? These are
the thoughts that whirl in my mind as I grip the steering wheel
tightly, trying, by sheer determination to keep from jarring the
stretcher balanced on the bed of the truck.

Later, at her house, I tried to think of a scripture to read. All I
could think of was "Even though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." Scott
Barlow, the hospital matron, shared about the hope we have in Jesus,
and then prayed and annointed her. A few Ormos also gave little
sermonettes while the flies gathered and the sweat dripped from our

Most of the people who rode back to Gimbie with us weren't notably
sad. In fact, one boy asked me if I was all right. Life is
difficult, he said. Yes, I guess so.

So, I keep living, meeting my own challenges, making my own poor
choices. I don't often think about the consequences of my decisions.
I usually just do whatever seems best to me, given the information I

So did she...

Recent Clinic Trip

Recent Clinic Trip
On Wednesday, Shaunda, Renée, and I, along with Priscilla, the new
doctor from Argentina and a dentist, druggist, and eyeglass prescriber
from the hospital, and Ashiber, the driver, left in the ambulance to
go visit the four clinics west of the hospital. We stopped at Inango,
Dalati, and Guliso clinics in quick succession. I helped Shaunda do
payroll briefly, but spent most of my time during the stops fixing
latrine doors. I rigged up a couple different several latches and
reattached a door that was falling off the frame. Then we drove three
hours past Guliso and got to Dembi Dollo, where we spent the night.
The next day we drove to Mugi and started seeing patients. Priscilla
worked really hard; in spite of the delay caused by having to
translate everything from either Amharic or Oromifa into English, and
then into Spanish, and then vice versa, she still saw about 90
patients in a day and a half. Tsegaye, the dentist, also stayed
pretty busy, but he wasn't nearly as popular as Yohannes, the
maintenance man turned eye glasses dispenser. Yohannes worked with
Dr. Hans, the German eye guy who was here for a while, and now he's
learned enough to dispense the spare glasses we have by himself.
Everybody crowded around him and the eyechart, and he pulled in a lot
of the money we made on the trip, selling bifocals for $5.50 and
regular glasses for $3.60. I helped Shaunda with inventory, and
Yohannes with the glasses, and measured the well behind the clinic so
we can find out if it's worthwhile to put in a pump to get running
water (it's not, unfortunately; there's only three feet of water in
the bottom of a fifty foot well.)
Thursday afternoon Shaunda and I went to talk with Merdassa, a SDA
nurse who used to work for the hospital, and who has now opened up his
own competing clinic. Last time Shaunda was there, he expressed a
desire to work for the hospital again. The benefits when
self-employed apparently don't measure up to to those we offer. We
were hoping that we could talk him into taking over the management of
the clinic in Mugi, since he's familiar with the place and seems
reasonably competent and trustworthy. However, when we went and
talked with him, he told us that he was sick and tired of Mugi, and
that he was leaving whether we hired him or not. So, we told him we'd
get back to him. I think he would be an asset to the hospital, but
hiring somebody here is a very momentuous decision, because it's very
nearly an irreversible decision.
Thursday night the girls slept in a tent behind the clinic and I slept
in the ambulance. Ivan's Christmas present finally arrived, so we
watched two episodes of Hogan's Heros before retiring :D Friday we
left around 2:30 and drove back to Dembi Dollo, where Shaunda and I
stopped off at the Zonal Health Office. We'd made an appointment when
we came through on Wednesday, but the guy told us no one was there.
Fortunately we persisted, and he finally went and found the assistant
director. We had a good visit with him, basically just explaining
that Mugi clinic was in pretty poor shape financially and that among
the options we were considering was closing the clinic. Initially he
was opposed to this, but when we showed him the financial statements
and other documents, he agreed that it didn't make much sense to
operate a clinic that was losing 3000 birr per month. We haven't
given up completely yet, but we've learned that doing things slowly,
and laying a paper trail is essential when working with anything
involved with the government.
We met up with everyone else and waited for a couple hours while
Ashebir got a two tires fixed on the ambulance. Fortunately we were
able to make good use of our spare time teaching Priscilla how to play
Seven Up, Seven Down, an essential part of the Gimbie experience ;)
By 6:15 the tires were finally fixed (or so we thought), and we
started on the remaining 4.5 hour drive back.
At 10:30, as we were just getting to the paved road outside of Gimbie,
both front tires went flat. This stumped us at first, because we only
had one spare (and the steel belts were showing quite prominently).
But we ended up making do by putting the threadbare spare on one side
and switching the other flat with one of the good tires from the rear
duals. Finally, by 12:30 am, we were on our way again, just in time
to meet Mark Squires and Gadisa and Tinsaye, who had gallantly come to
rescue us. Pity they hadn't arrived in time to help with our
complicated sequence of raising and lowering the ambulance with a
jury-rigged jack handle!
Anyway, we all got back safely, the ambulance suffered no permanent
damage, three latrine doors are fixed, the government feels like
they're in the loop, and most importantly, there are now lots of
satisfied Mugians, with new glasses, fewer teeth, and hopefully, in
better health:)