We had been carrying out a fistula camp in Hargeisa, Somaliland, at the Edna Aden University Hospital. The work built up slowly from 13th to a climax on the last day, 20th April. I talk of climax because the initial cases were fair and “easy”, as Dr Ambaye , the Fistula surgeon put it. But the worst cases were saved for the last day. The previous day we did some patients who had been flown in from Somalia, one from Baidoa and the other from Mogadishu. On the final day, we had two patients also from Somalia, one from Jowar and another from Mogadishu. They gave heart-wrenching stories of their life with fistula, one of them having to go through the pain of divorce, other than losing her precious second baby. The first baby had died earlier at the age of one and a half years, due to unknown illness. She had been told in Somalia that her fistula was beyond repair. When she was examined in our camp, Dr Ambaye conceded that it was going to be a tough one, given the extensive damage .
Two of the fistula patients had to be booked for surgeries in the next two months, since they had just recently given birth, and their fistulas were quite raw with a lot of infected friable tissue that would not guarantee a successful operation. It was devastating to see their sad hopeless looks. One had hired a taxi all the way from S.Somali, since the regular public buses could not afford to carry a “smelling” passenger for that long distance! She was accompanied by both her parents, her husband having divorced her in the face of her predicament. At the age of 20, this was only her first baby, and he was still-born.
But that was not the only beautiful thing about the Fistula camp this April! Dr Ambaye brought with her so much fun and good company in the WAHA guest house, that we never regretted not having booked her elsewhere! Having recently come from Afghanistan where she conducted trainings on Fistula surgeries to doctors there, we marveled at the stories she had to give.
We had the pleasure of sampling the “shuro” and “anjera” delicacy, a recipe that our cook has comfortably adopted. She gave elaborate details of the preparations and the actual Easter celebrations back home in Ethiopia. The evening shopping was not with drama, as we moved from stall to stall looking for “dhiras”, the light cotton material used for making the Somali dresses. She just had to buy some for her friends back home! As we flew back to Nairobi and we parted ways at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, I could only wish her a blessed Easter holiday with her family!
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