Jaba had his BCG and Polio vaccinations yesterday. He was pretty good and didn’t cry too much. We have finally found a solution for Jaba’s future. Rather than send him to the orphanage, which was on the cards for any day now, Makabe (our cook/cleaner) is going to look after him. We will cover his costs and also pay Makabe to look after him, but this doesn’t amount to an enormous sum as living costs here are not vast. So if anyone has any spare baby/small child clothes or useful baby things in the attic just waiting for a good home, I know just the place. Second hand things are just perfect and would be considered a luxury here. Only yesterday, a woman with twins was asking me for some of Jaba’s clothes and blankets. Indeed, when people see Jaba dressed like a King, they often ask for spare clothes. Babies here are generally not put in nappies or dressed in clothes as they are simply too expensive and so they are mostly wrapped in large sheets of colourful 1950s patterned material, which is frequently repositioned each time the baby soils.
It is fairly quiet at the hospital at the moment as it is coffee picking season and everyone is out in the fields from morning to night. I wonder whether there are more maternal and neonatal deaths during this time. Coffee is the biggest business here and brings quite a lot of money to families living in the villages, whether it is from owning the coffee trees or from picking the beans. Rather than paying people for picking the beans, they get 1Kg of beans for every 5Kg picked for the owner. Then the coffee pickers take the beans to market to sell for 85-90 Birr a kilo (£3.50).
In addition to my maternal risk assessment project, I have been collecting data from the waiting house and the hospital at Ayra to try and see what happens to women who stay in the waiting house. It’s not easy as the records in the waiting house are kept by an elderly lady who writes in Amharic and the delivery book in the hospital is written in English. So I have had to get someone to translate the Amharic to English and then try and match up the records. The waiting house is a place where women who are considered to be at high obstetric risk and who live far away from the hospital are encouraged to stay for a couple of weeks prior to delivery. I don’t think that there are many of these places in Ethiopia and certainly not one in Gimbie and so I though it would be useful to see how effective they are at preventing maternal death. The woman who looks after the waiting house is paid a pittance; just 300 Birr a month (£12.00), which is really only just enough to buy basic food. When we visited, I gave her 100 Birr ‘for Christmas’ and as we walked away I noticed that she was crying. It really is tough for some people here.