Bendigo nurse's Ethiopia trip provides perspective

BENDIGO nurse Dawn Andrews has returned from a journey to Ethiopia with a different view of the world.Ms Andrews was part of Eyes for Africa, an Australian project that restores the vision of poor people with cataracts.She returned earlier this month from a two-week trip, during which she helped restore the eyesight of 193 people in the city of Harar.“They had no chance in getting it done otherwise – their health system is pretty poor,’’ she said.“It was wonderful and satisfying to see the smiles on the patients’ faces when they left.’’Ms Andrews, who works for Bendigo Day Surgery, said she helped prepare patients for surgery on what was her first overseas aid venture.“Their hospital conditions were ancient. No hand-washing facilities, no running water, plumbing that went nowhere, no bathroom facilities.’’Ms Andrews said a highlight of the trip was restoring the eyesight of two children.She said many poor and blind people walked several kilometres to receive surgery.“Every day there were crowds of people waiting to be assessed for surgery.‘‘It was rather unruly. There were police present at times, and also local hospital guards near the outpatient area.“We attracted a lot of attention.‘‘Their families would look through the windows, so we would have to get the guards to get people to go back.’’Ms Andrews said the medical professionals received an official welcome when they arrived in Ethiopia and a farewell lunch at the president’s residence, and their work was reported in Africa, the US and Europe.But she said much more could be done for the health of people in Ethiopia.“We didn’t even scratch a spot on the tip of the iceberg. ‘‘There are so many people requiring our help.’’

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