Surgicorps’ first trip in 2013 was a return to Ethiopia. It was exciting to have a majority of the volunteers making their first trip with Surgicorps. It was a wonderful success with 53 surgeries completed. First-time volunteer Lauren Potter shared this story from the week.
By Lauren Potter
Patient: Hussein Musa, Post-op from a cleft lip repair
With the assistance of an Amharic translator, (a nurse in the ward) I was able to learn more about Hussein from his mother; who held him on her back wrapped in a sheet which she tied around her body. She told me they had traveled over 500km from Diredawa, Ethiopia (10 hours by bus). They heard about the opportunity for Hussein to have surgery by “word of mouth”.
Hussein and his mother live in a catholic home (shelter) called Mother Teresa home. He was born on 12/6/11 so is just over a year old now. Hussein is an only child, but his mother assumes she will have more children. Hussein’s father works odd jobs but does not have a steady income. His mother is currently unemployed with the exception of occasional cleaning jobs (called a house worker) at people’s homes.
Hussein’s mother revealed to me that she was concerned when he was born with a cleft lip because she knew he would face difficulties being accepted into the community. I specifically questioned her on the topic of breastfeeding because I was curious to know how a cleft lip may have impacted Hussein’s ability to breastfeed. She responded that he could not breastfeed and instead she had to purchase cow’s milk to feed him. I tried to ask her about “pumping” breast milk with a breast pump, but she had no idea what that was.
I later learned from Corinne, a missionary at the CURE Hospital, that this woman would never have had access or knowledge about breast pumps due to her geographical location and lack of resources. Breast pumps are rare and only found in hospitals in Addis Ababa, so women whose children cannot breastfeed are forced to rely on using cow’s milk. Getting further into conversation I learned that cow milk costs 500 birr ($25USD/month). Although this seems insignificant to many of us, there is an extreme difference in the cost of living in Ethiopia versus the U.S. 500 birr could be more than Hussein’s mother makes in a year, so this is very expensive for a woman with no consistent job or money, especially compared to breast milk which is free.
I really enjoyed speaking with Hussein’s mother and learning more about their background. I am very glad we were able to change Hussein’s life for
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