17 Apr The volunteers’ journey back to Adwa
Volunteers doctor returned from Adwa. They were missing for a long time because of Covid-19 and war.
Here’s the testimony by doctor Giampaolo Fasolo, back to Adwa after three years:
We haven’t been to Adwa for three years.
One year of pandemic and two of war prevented it. There were fragmentary news of what was happening through sporadic reports of those who still were there, but now that arms are silent it is important that we go personally and check, touch by hand and study how to restart.
We formed a small group: Leda and I, Antonio e Alberto construction technicians, Daniel fixture technician. We left having the idea of “observing”, checking what the events in these three years have caused, how they have organized themselves to face them, which are the most urgent needs, what is to do immediately and what in the future.
The city appears to be the same as always: there are no evident war signs, there are no ruined houses nor bomb craters, no mine fields nor heavy weapons.
Only some burned trucks or bus along the road.
But people seem to be different: more sad and absolutely poorer.
Once there were many small shops with any kind of merchandise, now only few are left and practically almost empty.
There is still a market on Saturdays, but now along the roads you find makeshift small markets with some merchandise exposed on the ground hoping to find some customers, a fruit, some vegetable.
Before the Salesian Mission and the institute of the nuns of Mother Teresa: dozens of meters of row of people waiting to get something to eat or some drinkable water. And what is shocking is their apparent resignation; they stand in line, without shouting, waiting their turn and with much dignity: nobody comes and ask you something, not even with discretion. There is no money circulating therefore who suffers of this situation is commerce and crafts. Prices are very high being with depreciating currency.
And it could not be different: a couple of kms far from the Mission there was a fabrics factory where more than three thousand people were working. Now it does not exist anymore and the same goes for a stone quarry in the area.
Obviously in this desperate situation someone wants to leave, risk the skin in the desert, in the refugees’s camps in North Africa or with the barges. But should they have the possibility to work there where they live, nobody would leave.
When the mission gave work to 250 people and factories were active, Sister Lura can state and confirm that nobody went away from Adwa.
And school. In the last three years schools have been closed, with thousands of boys accumulating unbridgeable delays in their education and future life.
And health. Apart from the personal drama, if you are not healthy you cannot work.
Let’s speak about our hospital. There has been a period when it had to give housing and shelter to hundreds of refugees and therefore great part of the existing equipment had to be set aside, with big damages. After that, activity restarted, with few means and little staff. Obstretrics has been activated with daily more than 100 patients. It works as a small hospital in the back of the front, but at least it works. In fact it has been decided not to interfere, at the beginning, in its organization but to move all activity in the new structure as soon as it will be ready. We have therefore prepared a development program which goes through three stages: structure, equipment, staff. If there will be no problems in the transport of materials, we have planned to have the hospital ready at the end of 2024-2025.
In conclusion, I would like to say two words about the patients. We have seen the “usual” dramatic situations that we find in Africa:
disastrous traumas, outcomes of snake bites, burns, gangrenes.
To all this we now have to add results of serious war injuries and we are preparing all to deal with this next autumn.
The many wars of these years have unfortunately made indifferent people that hear about this. Mutilations, permanent damages, death itself do not make more sensation. I therefore prefer not to dwell on what we have seen. I just want to speak about a 3 years old girl who arrived in Adwa after weeks of walk from the Sudan border.
She presents results of very serious burns in the body upper part, especially in the front neck: retraction goes from the chest to the lower lip, she cannot extend the neck or open her mouth, she cannot rotate the head. A first surgical operation has given a certain mobility to her neck, she can close her mouth , she can smile. When medicating her, she cries but after she smiles and with the healthy little hand she beats five on the hands of everybody.
For all this, we have come back and will come back to Adwa.
Giampaolo Fasolo- president in ASPOS