An Ethiopian & a believer

September 15, 2008 at 8:59 am 10 comments

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 not a little 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”.

He was understanting it! 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.

Before

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“Baaro Qen Wetalish!” Like Mike

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Totit  |  September 16, 2008 at 3:16 am

    Hey Abesheet…What a story….Reading things like this just makes me wanna shoot myself…Not really…But it shows me how selfish I am…Ethiopia looses more Doctors to the US than she produces, I some times feel, even though I know it is a complete exageration…seeing all the Ethiopian educated Doctors I encounter here in the US, and seeing how large they live completlyforgeting the people that has made it possible for them to do so, makes my blood boil most of the time…Being in the health care providing business ( and I tell u it is a business), I hope one day I will be able to at least contribute to my country in one way or the other…and Stories like this shows me it is possible…

  • 2. abesheet  |  September 16, 2008 at 6:13 am

    Totitye, I completely agree. Although i doubt it is as neatly cut and dry as “them not wanting to help those who taught them”. As I tried to discuss in my post Is “Nu” enough?!, the situation here is more discouragining than encouraging. It takes a saint or a hero to believe he could beat all odds and make it. And not many Ethiopians are saints and heroes. Especially when they have a more tempting choice.

    I would like to think i am one of those few who would go all the way down to grass root level (as the program officers in my organization call it) and work with the community to bring about change. But i’ve seen myself in action before and i’m either too selfish or impatient to accomplish even the smallest act of kindness “for the sake of the people”. Take the other day for example. I was at the hospital when they brought a young girl of around 20 in a stretcher. She’s been in a car accident that wounded an old man as well (who was making all the classical “sick person from the country” noises that one can’t help thinking one was in a theatre, especially after the lights went out. At around 3:00 a.m. ofcourse I wanted to struggle him and pretend he choked over his gabbi. He was making so much noise that he was disturbing the real patients. Funny thing was hearing one of the cute female doctors ask him “Ababa, lemin yiwashalu? Yemiyamotin bota bicha yingerugn” the next morning. He ofcourse walked out a few minutes later).

    This girl was brought there by two guys who were, i imagine, taking a walk after their “Fetira”. They didn’t know the girl or where she lives. They felt sorry for her when they saw nobody was tending to her, even if she was more injured. “We did it for Allah”, they kept trying to explain to the nurse who badgered them for their ID to be kept as “person responsible”. Luckily, they had a police man with them who bore witness that they were neither the one who created the accident, nor beat the girl up. That the driver has gotten away and the boys shouldn’t be punished for being good Samaritans. (“Gechito mamlet” doesn’t sound so mysterious now, does it?!) A few minutes later, I heard somebody comment that the girl has lost so much blood, was shaking and saying she was cold. The nurses just shrugged their shoulder, the “astamamis” for the other patients “mTs” a lot. But nobody offered a jacket (the boys had gone out to get her something or other from the pharmacy). So i stepped up. Grabbed the jacket my mother brought me to wear through the freezing night and put it on her unconcious body. But i can’t tell you how much struggle that simple act of “bravery” took. “She’s bound to be covered in blood”, i remember thinking “and blood is hard to wash out. IF i could find anybody to do it for me, not that i would for she maybe an HIV patient, these young people in skimpy dresses. I simply can’t leave it on her coz it’s my mother’s, sent for her from somebody abroad who wanted to be remembered by it. What am i going to do if they didn’t give it back? How would i explain this foolish act to my mother? Or should i simply pretend it’s none of my business, as everybody else is doing?” etcetra. I know that sounds minute & definitely way self-centered. But you can see how being a good samaritan doesn’t always come easy for us mere mortals (my fear was justified by the way! Her younger sister, who wore it all day the next day and swore three times she’d bring it back when her sister was “referenced” to Tikur Anbessa Hospital, didn’t show!).

  • 3. beko  |  September 16, 2008 at 8:48 am

    I have been in menelike hopsital.Except the cleaning lady,nobody is around when you need them. They also get angry when you call them in the middle of the night,as if it’s not there job?. What i found strange is the size of the nurses. The life os hospital seems so harsh that i find eating hard when i go home.But the nurses are usually well-fed.Is it they are used to suffering? or the hospital food contract out by the cooks?From what i can tell of the little i tasted,you need to have a strong stomach to digest hospital food. The fact that these nurses are fat,I always wonder about that. Finally,Abesheetye, i hope your relative feels better. God bless the visionaries of wwj.i hope more people like them enter the profession.Kidus Gabriel hospital gene tekedno yibsele naw mibalewe.They make you pay for even visit,sometimes even for changing the channel:).Waht’s more,they have a reputation that nobody comes out alive.it’s day light robbery.

  • 4. Mazzi  |  September 16, 2008 at 10:48 am

    What an amazing story indeed, and I hope by now your relative is at least in stable condition with the promise of full recovery. Emergency situations in any place put us face to face with our mortality and vulnerability as human beings, and how much more in the settings you described in local hospital emergency rooms.

    I happen to know “about” the owners of the clinic who moved their business from Israel, and bless them for wanting to bring “help to the people” where it is badly needed despite the obvious obstacles. The question of why medical personnel trained in Ethiopia prefer to work else where is not as clear cut as it seems. Your post “Is ‘Nu’ enough?!” presented a good insight as to what kinds of factors contribute to why something like that happens on a regular basis. I just pray for Ethiopia and her people who have yet to overcome mountains of obstacles to just reach a level of basic survival. Bless you for coming forward and “forever lending” your mother’s jacket to the girl who needed it most in the emergency room. I hope she at least survived her ordeal.

    On a different note, I also happen to think Abraham Wolde is a talented artist, and I was honored to receive his autographed CD album “BalaGeru” on one of his trips to the US. Our families back home happen to be friends and neighbors, and it was nice to know the Abraham I knew from a long time ago has become a successful artist and producer. Love the song “Nu” even if it is idealistic. Exile always makes you fantasize about one day just dropping everything and finally going ‘home.’ But reality kicks in the next second and you get reminded why you ‘fled’ your home in the first place. Sigh sigh… vicious cycle..!

  • 5. abesheet  |  September 16, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Lol, Mazzi. Yeah, it was a self-less act, lending my mother’s jacket to a sick & unconcious girl 😉 . But see where it got me! My mother has yet to be informed of her heavy jacket’s disapperance and I’m not looking forward to the ensuing interview. True! She won’t “berbere maTen” me, as her father used to do when she’s found crying over a lost door key she’s supposed to have in her possession at all times. But she’d give me that look. You know that look mothers give their daughters their sons never know about. That [condensending? disappointed?] look which makes feel you always have to prove yourself or won’t amount to anything. The same way you’re made to feel when they ask you how much you bought that gift/cloth/antique for and start talking about how ripped off you’ve been and how they could have gotten it for half the price in a voice fit for an Ambessa-Geday? Yes, that look. God I hate that look.

  • 6. Mazzi  |  September 16, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Oh I DO know that look, that “I am so disappointed in you” look, that sometimes is thrown across the room. I think all mothers attend “Mommy boot camp” to learn such skills because this skill seems to be universal :-). But even if good deeds never go unpunished, I hope karma pays you back for the selfless act you were compassionate enough to perform by trying to keep the girl warm when no one else, including the medical personnel, would give a shit.

  • 7. Yohannes Admassou  |  October 3, 2008 at 4:03 am

    This is no joke guys! This is a guy who has saved our mother’s life when her kidneys fell and she was going through hell for 4 days he was using his ambulance car from Korea hospital to Bethel, to Gabriel etc.. untill he found the kidney specialist and had her do her dialysis. This is a man of higher ethics and does it with love and compassion beleive me we only paid a lousy 300 birr.
    God bless this guy and I hope this touch our heart and we do the same for others. God bless you Mr Wubet.

  • 8. terry  |  October 4, 2008 at 5:14 am

    I was not supprised when i read about the the “young man in sweat suit that came out of the CT-scan room. A tall good looking guy in his mid 30’s. “ This man Wubetu Yemer has reached his loving and caring hand to my family too, going out of his way to help my mother. It is people like Wubetu Yemer that makes this world a better place to live in. His kindness is touching many lives, I just hope we all learn from him. Thank God for people like wubetu who have decided to go back to ethiopia and open health care facilities like WWJ Diagnostic and Image Center. We pray God bless Ato wubetu Yemer and his family.

  • 9. ----  |  October 6, 2008 at 3:55 am

    I’m just so proud to be Wubetu’s younger sister! He’s not only a wonderful example for all his sibblings, but for each single person he encounters! May God protect him! Long live Wubetu!!! 🙂

  • 10. Israel yacob  |  January 31, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I am proud of you wubetu. What you do for your fellow Ethiopians is unremarkable. God bless you and your family. We need more people like you. People like you makes this planet a better place to live. Keep the good work. I am glad and proud to be your friend.

    Israel yacob
    Toronto Canada

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