Thursday, December 6, 2012

Getting to Motta

The Bus arriving in Motta
To get to Motta from Sydney I flew with Emirates  firstly to Dubai, a 14 hour flight which was rendered hellish by a shrieking toddler that didn’t sleep one minute the entire way. Its parents regularly lifted it up above the level of the seats so its whining penetrated the headsets of everyone tin the cabin and at one point a heavyset bloke not far from me yelled out something in a foreign language, no doubt expressing what everyone felt, that the damn kid would shut the hell up! The flight left Sydney in the evening so all we really wanted to do was sleep. However I did watch a great documentary about the life, music and tragic early death of Bob Marley.  We had a four hour stopover in Dubai, a place that just seems wrong to me – the ostentatious wealth, the massive skyscrapers in the desert, exploited foreign workers, women covered head to foot, those ghastly artificial islands crammed with luxury villas…..I never feel comfortable there.
And then four hours away is the Bole International Airport at Addis Ababa. There are wrecked and rusting planes and helicopters off the runway and the terminal itself is an almost empty shell of a building with a tiny Duty Free Kiosk selling cigarettes and not much else. Security and Customs are unsophisticated, so pretty soon I was dragging my one suitcase out the front door and along a rough concrete path to the Domestic Terminal, an even more worn out building where I tried to sleep on some plastic seats while waiting four more hours to catch my flight north to Bahar Dar. By the time I got there it was 8 pm local time, and dark. I had been travelling and had hardly any sleep for 36 hours. The Summerland Hotel courier van took me to the hotel and I slept well in a bed that sagged massively in the middle.
In the morning after breakfast of two fried egss coffee toast and jam I walked to a nearby Bank and got some Birr, then walked further along to meet Birhanu, the local co-ordinator for the BMF. These crowded streets area familiar to me now, the beggars in the dust, the people praying along the wall of the local church, the women wanting one Birr to weigh you, the shoe shine boys, the rubble of still unfinished building sites spilling onto the road… Birhanu took me for a tour of the BMF maternity service provided at one of the government run  Health Centres and showed me an overgrown courtyard surrounded by half fallen down buildings which are going to be removed and replaced by a new two story Maternity Ward, funded by donations to the BMF. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a huge tangle of red tape and official obstacles to negotiate, and if they prove greater hurdles to clear then the fund raising.
I expected that next he would be bundling me into a mini van or a 4WD and sending me off down the rocky and winding 150km road to Motta, to there get a brief  “Handover” from Dr Rien  who would then return with the same vehicle to Bahar Dar. That’s whats happened in the past, so there is continuity of cover at Motta. However this time they had decided to do it in reverse – Dr Rien would come to meet me in Bahar Dar and then I would go back to Motta. It worried me that there would be half a day without cover but that was what had been decided – so be it.
Dr Rien and his wife and the midwife, Julie , arrived at lunch time so we met them at “Kariftu” which is an elegant and luxurious hotel on the edge of Lake Tana. They had all decided to splash out and stay there for a night – they deserved a special treat I am sure. We had a nice lunch and discussed what was  happening at Motta and then the driver arrived and I farewelled them all and we headed for Motta. Soon after we were bumping rolling and weaving our way round great clods of earth and rocks on a stretch of road that was undergoing repairs, when a loud peculiar scraping sound attracted our attention from the rear of the vehicle. The driver stopped and was outside poking round underneath for a while then returned saying we would have to return to Bahar Dar as the wheel bearing was damaged. I phoned Birhanu so he could arrange alternative transport but there was none available at this time of the day he said, and I would need to return to the Hotel and wait till the next day when hopefully the vehicle would be fixed. This stressed me out somewhat because now Motta wold be without cover for a day or more, and a day in Motta is long enough for a disaster or two, events I was meant to be there to help prevent.
We started back to Bahar Dar at about 5km an hour. A battered and overloaded bus approached, also bumping and weaving between the holes and the rocks – “Is it going to Motta?” I asked the driver – “Yes, Motta” he said “Shall you go on the Bus?”  “yes” I replied and he stopped and flagged it down. I scrambled aboard and squeezed into one of the seats near the front with two grubby poor women and a baby, my bag on the dusty floor , and off we went. I was relieved to be on my way albeit slowly and uncomfortably, but after a couple of hours one of the ladies got off and it wasn’t such a squeeze after that.
We arrived in Motta in the dark, about 7pm. Birhanu had already phoned ahead so someone who knew me was waiting when I got off – it was Shewaye the schoolgirl who had done washing and cleaning for me last time I was here. It was lovley to see her friendly smling face. I was tired and dusty and thirsty, so went into the Wubet Hotel nearby for a quick drink – we had just sat down  and I had a mouthful of beer when another familiar face appeared – Melesse, one of the Doctors, and after warm greetings and embraces  he told me there was a woman with an obstructed labour in the hospital, the midwives said she would need an emergency caesarean and they had sent a driver down to get me! So off we went, straight to Maternity where I asked someone to take my bags to the flat and I went in to see the woman whose baby was stuck. I was greeted  again with huge smiles and big hugs by Simagnew, the only midwife still there from when I was here a year ago, but we had to save catching up till later. When I examined the woman in labour there certainly were signs of obstruction, the skull bones of the baby so squeezed together they overrode one another like plates sliding one under the other to an extent one never sees in Australia – this is called moulding and is normal up to a point but this was extreme. However the head was well down the birth canal and I decided to try and deliver it with forceps rather than by caesarean section. The forceps went on OK and I moved the babies head around to a better position and then with about three almighty heaves dislodged it and brought him out in surprisingly good condition. Even the babies out here are tough! 
I was back. It felt good.

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