Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Don't give up!"

I’ve been postponing writing a new blog post, as I’d like to be able to tell you something new. Things are moving in the right direction, but very very slowly. A month ago, the specifications for the construction of the Maternity Waiting Home were almost finished. Now they are still almost finished. A month ago, we found out that Ment, pediatric nurse at the hospital and the mother of Merlijn and Elin’s playfriends Fikir and Mar, is allowed to adopt Mimi. Wonderful news, as the family is so loving and Ment has known Mimi since the day she was born (which I now know was on September 10, 2013, the last day of the Ethiopian year). Within a week they said they she could be at Ment’s house, but the procedure is still ongoing. Over a month ago, we were told that are contracts would be extended by a year within one week, but still no news.

Being used to a fast pace or at least knowing when to expect an answer, it takes a great deal of patience (not in the genes of one side of the family) and confidence (not in the genes of the other side of the family) that it will eventually happen. It helps that goodhearted Ethiopians remind me at crucial times: “Don’t give up!”. While trying to motivate everyone to make progress, I focused on making the survey aimed at mothers in this region about their reasons for and barriers to seeking maternal health care. In addition to support from our supervisors, we are very lucky to get advice from the Addis Ababa Research Centre, which has been doing mental health research in this region for 20 years. It is an honor to be able to work with such friendly and smart Ethiopian psychiatrists and PhD students.

The visitor flow from Holland will dry up soon. From November to now, we’ve had many visitors, starting with Ralf and Lonneke and the last visit from Martin – gynecologist from the Netherlands – who has given Floris supervision. Not to forget the visit of my parents, (almost) 70 years old but adventurous, relaxed and open-minded about Ethiopia. In April, Niek and Laura will be the last ones to visit us, and to bring us some Dutch cheese and craft materials for Merlijn and Elin.

Talking about Merlijn and Elin, have I mentioned they are the coolest kids? (I realize I am biased). Merlijn has started to speak (steenkolen/African) English, and is - as I write - playing with an Ethiopian boy named Nahom. Different from playing with his love Fikir, Merlijn and Nahom are throwing rocks, running endlessly, pushing and kicking and then examining where it hurts. Elin has been the coolest chica since birth, and is now taking in the space she deserves. She eats more than Merlijn, she leads the way while holding your hand and isn’t amused if you decide against it, and loves to stay up late and read books in her bed. While Mimi is waiting to go to Ment’s house, she comes to visit us frequently for hugs and kisses and time out from the hospital. Thanks to advice from former VSO-volunteer Klaas Koop, she gained approximately 1 kg in the last few weeks, weighing now 3.5 kg at 6 months.

To end this post, here are some pics of the last few months and a special thank you to....

... Renske, Suzanne, Gerdien, Gijs, Joke van Missie Club Hillegom, en Phia en Mirjam (beide via Marktplaats) for helping gather clothes for Mimi, for the twins whose mother passed away shortly after birth and for other sick children at the hospital.
... Lonneke, Ralf, Thom, Toos for helping with the logistics around getting second-hand laptops here for Ethiopian students, they are very happy!
... Thom, Toos, Harrie and Martin for not traveling light and helping to get the clothes & laptops here.