The plane takes off at 6:40. One hour later it lands in the mountains and I arrive in mythical Gondar. The road to the hospital is serpentine. The taxi avoids ruts and donkeys. Men and women walking along the road are wrapped up in cloth to fight the cold.
Following an intern, who came to welcome me out of the taxi, I enter a building under construction in the heart of the University Teaching Hospital. I meet up with Dr Sinan and Dr Mulu who visit the third floor’s aisle with the university’s president. This building is planned for the ophthalmology service. But at the present time the third floor is vacant. Dr Sinan and Dr Mulu are convinced that it could be dedicated to the fistula section WAHA has opened in collaboration with Gondar Hospital. For the moment, the section dedicated to fistula only has 7 beds, which greatly limits the number of women who can be admitted. The third floor of the building under construction could have up to 75 beds which would be totally awesome and enable to operate 130 women every month! It is still an idea but everybody is already excited about it.
In the afternoon, I visit the fistula section with Dr Mulu. Three women are still hospitalized there, the most complicated cases of the last fistula camp where 10 women were treated.
Dr Mulu first examines them and then I discuss with two of them. One woman who has suffered from incontinence for 35 years and another one for 4 months. These women’s strength dazzles me.
The day ends with a visit to the maternity department. For a first time it was a shock. I had never heard the shouts of a woman giving birth and it was unsettling. Several of them are laid down in the hallway in labour. Doctors sit next to them to help them manage their contractions, touching their bellies. In the delivery room, a woman is laid down, her baby who was just born is a little further away, and another one is delivering in the same room under the gaze of the first one. It’s simply incredible, I am witnessing this with a certain emotion that is quite difficult to describe.
In the evening, we end the day in the University’s president’s house who is celebrating the baptism of his third daughter. The chance to be part of an Ethiopian celebration. Gondar won me over, I feel happy to have touched the reality of what we do on the field.
Read Cyrille's Blog in Ethiopia 3 - Assela