Archive for September 15, 2008

An Ethiopian & a believer

There is no place like the emegency room of a hospital to bring that old Ethiopian saying “sew kentu” to mind, and justify it. The minute you stepped into its hectic & mostly bloody treshhold, you’d learn two things: how spoilt your view of life has been and that you might as well give up. It’s the only place that makes you look at the roof with the humility of a devout believer and mutter such sentiments as “yiQir belegn getaye”, “ayaDirs” and “yebasse atamta”.

Yet, health centers aren’t only the place for woe and horror story. They are also places where you come across not just your humane side but other’s too. People like Ato Wubetu Yemer, Owner and Administrator of WWJ Diagnostic and Image Center, for example.

Sunday morning didn’t start out by promising to be “a day of rest” for the sister. The half-paralized relative she had at the emergency room of Menelik hospital wasn’t showing any improvement. The cute little female doctors who could pass off as twins anytime and sounded exactly the same, seem to entirely depend on past “histories” in their analysis. The “investigations” of the previous day on blood, urine samples and ex-ray have came back with N/A all over them. And she didn’t have an able sibling who could run around doing errands or stay next to the sick when she does.

So when the order came for an urgent CT-Scan, she was terrified. It wasn’t just the payment that worried her. The estimated number given to her by a passer-by in the vicinity of 3-4,000 ETB wasn’t exactly a peanut. But the fact that three of the diagnostic centers with the expensive equipment in their ownership whose number she got from 997, always a bad idea, apparently being short of either a telephone operator or secretary/receptionist was working on her strained nerve. The last one had a secretary receptionist who admitted they give CT-scan and put the price down to 1,050. The drive, in a rented “lada” with a driver who seem to do “complaining” for a living, however, proved fruitless. The machine, apparently, have been shot down by the electricity fluctuation caused by the heavy rain of the previous day.

“What am I going to do now?” she wailed when the receptionist told her of the problem and how it would take some time to fix “I have a woman who can’t raise a finger to help herself, nobody to help me, and I’ve already sent the car. How am I going to take her all the way to the street and back to the hospital (and it’s funny-smelling stretchers which are always occupied by people in car accidents, making them too busy for those in need of medical attention)”.

That’s when this young man in sweat suit came out of the CT-scan room. A tall good looking guy in his mid 30’s, you’d easily mistake him for a staff instead of the boss. “You know what” he said, after taking a look at the woman in the stage-of-the art stretcher their clinic provided us upon arrival, “I was planning to go get the guy who would fix the machine. But your case looks more pressing. I have a friend at St. Gabriel Hospital. I’ll call and ask him if they can give you the service, at the same price that we do”.

“O?” the sister said, unable to decide whether she should put her relative through the painful process of loading/unloading her in another lada with no space for the feet.

“Yes” he said, as if answering her doubt “I’d drive you there myself, we’ve got an ambulance and a person who can assist you”.

It was an understatement! The air-ambulance, equipped with facilities and comfort, is a luxury car for the sick by any standard. The person, a quite man who didn’t seem to judge the sister inspite of sitting at the ring-side while she bitched at the aforementioned receptionist, was more than willing to lend a hand in carrying the sick in and out of all three health centers we entered.

But that’s not the best part. He stayed around until my relative had her brained scanned, helped in the reading and drove us back to the hospital on the ragged Shola road which was under construction & no doubt bad on the wheels reminding one that age old saying “no good deed goes unpunished”.

The undersigned, ofcourse, didn’t just sit around gratefully apologizing for the above act of bitchiness. She asked why they were doing this, for free!. “Because you needed my help!” he answered, simply “That’s why we moved our business from Israel to Ethiopia. So people won’t go through what our mother (the Wosene Wole Jale after whom the center is named) did due to lack of proper health care. It hasn’t exactly been easy for us. It certainly is far from profitable. But we’ve set our minds to help people and we are“.

True enough, my studies later showed that WWJ isn’t simply a health center that provides a fabulous service for cheap but the heavy weight champion that beat all champions and taught them to behave.

So I’m here to announce, my dear readers, the question I put forward in one of my posts a few months ago have been answered. After listing the complications encountered both by the stele of Axum and a medical professional relative, if you remember, I’ve wondered over the wisdom of Abraham Wolde’s (via Gosaye) invitation for the diaspora to come. Going so far as saying “Shouldn’t [the disapora] rather stay where they are and send the bucks, atleast, than come home, lose everything they slaved for, spill desperate tears upto heavens (as we say), go back and never want to see us again (as we are told is mostly the case with Diaspora-come-homes)?!”

The answer is NO. It takes a believer to make a change, true, but there is no barrier that can stand in the way of determination.

May heaven give Ethiopia more believers like the ones at WWJ Diagnostic and Imaging Center in the coming new year.

Here is a before and after picture for you.

September 15, 2008 at 8:59 am 10 comments


The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

Life quote:

"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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