Fayaada! (that’s the beginning of a greeting in Oromifa, and one of the most useful words I’ve picked up) I’m sad to say that sending updates from the past few weeks was a bit futile, because Gimbie was without internet for the vast majority of my stay there. In a way it was nice—I’ve read more novels in five weeks than I had my entire first year of medical school—but it’s nice to be back in Addis Ababa and a little more connected to the world again! It’s unfortunate that my posts will be retrospective, but I still hope I can share a bit of the amazing experience I’ve had learning about women’s health care in Ethiopia.
Gimbie Adventist Hospital (GAH), my home away from home this summer, is a 70-bed private hospital serving the town of Gimbie and the surrounding rural communities in the West Wollega Zone of the nation. There’s a male ward, a female ward, the OR, and some outpatient rooms—it’s small, but it covers the basics and is the most sophisticated health care facility for a very large area. GAH also operates six outer clinics, a nursing school, and a new midwifery school as well. I stayed on the hospital grounds in the “volunteer dorm” with a few medical students from the UK who were completing their final year clinical electives, and the accommodations were quite nice; electricity, running water, and hot showers are quite a luxury in Gimbie!
The town of Gimbie itself is arranged around one paved road filled with minibuses, goats, cows, donkeys, little shops and stalls, children yelling “faranji!” (“foreigner!”) as you walk by, and hoards of people just sauntering up and down. There is a wonderful cook, Bejidu, who provides for us at our house, but if one feels so inclined you can wander into town for a juice (available flavors are papaya, mango, and avocado, which is surprisingly good with lime), a soda, or a little cup of the very strong and ubiquitous coffee. The ebb and flow of the town coincides with the daylight hours, so people are up early (all the better to gawk at and mock me as I attempted to run in the morning) and there’s not too much in the way of nightlife, but I think Gimbie is quite charming. People here are outwardly friendly, the surrounding countryside is stunningly beautiful, and there’s enough to keep oneself challenged and entertained.
I’ll write next about my endeavors doing research, but having just left Gimbie, I already miss it and wanted to give a brief snapshot of daily life. Gimbie Adventist Hospital is one of the biggest assets in the community, and I’m happy OHSU is invested in working with the hospital and creating positive change for all the great people I’ve met this summer.