We have, from time to time, on this forum, discussed about education, water and health related resource issues. One thing we have not put on much emphasis might be the vital issue of the lack of adequate health care provisions. Health care issues are one of the most important issues that cannot be ignored. Without resorting to much detail, I will just throw at you an anecdotal example of what I experienced the last time I was in Ethiopia a few months back.
One hot afternoon, we were returning from a visit of Borana Tuba elementary school, in Cheha Woreda, heading to other schools in Negoder and then in Elas, Eza Woreda, when we saw many people taking rides on vehicles prepared for a funeral. Those who were not part of the funeral, no doubt, thought we were a taxi service and tried to flag us down. As we were heading out of the small village, we were discussing and nursing the heart ache we received from seeing the sad conditions of the Borana Tuba school. Then we observed a young mother, may be 18 or 19 years old, carrying her sick baby boy on her back walking on the gravel and dusty road hurrying to prevent a certain loss. She did not attempt to flag us down but she looked very worried and was walking in a hurry toward her destination, wherever it was. We decided to ask her if she cared for a ride and learned that she was in an emergency for her son. He was so sick and she was determined to take him to the health center somewhere near the Gubryie area. She was in such a desperate rush to set out to walk all the distance in that heat? This was a very young lady, who, if she were one of the luckiest ones, could have been in college. But she became a mother at a very young age. She definitely did not want her son become a statistic among the 157 children dying per 1000 in the Region. The child may have been among the 155 children suffering from acute respiratory problems. It may even have been among the 24% of children who had fever and among the 25% suffering from diarrhea. Needless to say mothers in that environ are also the least to receive care for themselves. Mothers know and understand the torment they go through when their young ones get sick. They have no time to rest during the day or at night. The entire household is on their shoulders. Those mothers who live in the USA, for example, know how easy it can be to call the family doctors or call 9-1-1 when the little ones are sick and in serious danger. The young mother as well as many mothers like her are not that lucky though.
The lesson from this is that there are serious health concerns that must be addressed. Like all other problems, these issues cannot go away by wishing them away. They require a concerted effort to overcome the adversities. The desire to create a healthy and wealthy community demands massive investments in infrastructure through government action, community involvement, and private enterprising. There is something terribly wrong when our people do not get clean water which is the basis of good health. Good health is the source of active participation in the community and therefore prosperity. A healthy and educated community can easily tackle the long term consequences of inadequacies in the society.
Gurda as one concerned entity among many can begin to mobilize the stakeholders. It can only do so if each one of us is willing to take some responsible step to fund the areas where immediate actions warrant immediate results. The easiest and most likely immediate solution is the purchase of some vital medicines to distribute in clinics and health stations. Also subsidizing the purchase of gloves for simple hygiene in the harvesting of kocho, the staple diet of the Guraghe. Again sponsoring studies and awarding scholarships in developing such technologies where efficient and hygienic tools can be used to extract kocho products. Also, how about sponsoring engineering students to design environmentally viable toilet systems? How about encouraging and sponsoring a well-integrated city planning that looks to the future by addressing all issues involved in developing the power, water, sewage, communication, road, housing, commercial, industrial etc. needs of the villages and the towns? These are big things that Gurda cannot and, in my opinion, will not and should not attempt to tackle in massive proportions given its limited resources and manpower at the moment. But Gurda can do some things. Keeping in line with the vision and mission, Gurda can become a conduit and a focal point to raise funds and galvanize forces to change the way we look at the infrastructure to build a self-sufficient and self-reliant Guraghe community. To achieve that goal, your undivided support is always welcome, and we have to always be on the same page.
We must succeed!