Surgical center for children and their families
by Ashli Keyser, managing editor
The second Holt medical campaign in six months had come to an end. For a week, Holt Board Member Dr. Becca Brandt and her husband Dr. Kim Brandt volunteered their time and expertise at the Holt Shinshicho clinic. Arriving at the clinic in the early mornings, the Brandts stayed until each patient had been diagnosed and treated. With the conclusion of the campaign, hundreds of children and families had been treated for malaria, tuberculosis, meningitis, goiters, and other common ailments affecting the people of this region.
“This is good,” says Becca. “Most people would not come to the clinic, or they would wait until their needs are too great. The message went out to the community that we were here to provide the services, and they should come and use them.”
Holt’s renovations of the Shinshicho clinic and the subsequent medical campaigns have dramatically changed the lives of children and families of this area. People are now able to receive medical treatment, prenatal care and health and hygiene education in a clean and safe environment.
A lot has been accomplished in this area, and yet children and families continue to get sick, many of them succumbing to treatable illnesses—leaving the questions: what more can we do? And where do we go from here?
During the closing ceremony for the medical campaign, hundreds of residents and community leaders gathered to help answer these questions. One by one, men and women enthusiastically stood up, walked through the crowds of people, stepped onto the stage and proudly pledged what little they could to help the clinic, which has provided them with so much hope, enter into its next phase of expansion…a state-of-the-art surgical center.
“We don’t have surgeons or an operating room at this clinic currently, and the children and parents are not able to get the surgeries they need to survive,” says Dr. Mintesinot Tadewos, clinic physician and coordinator for the medical campaigns.
The creation of a surgical center would take this humble clinic and turn it into a fully functional regional medical center, where children and families from this region would not only receive treatment for common ailments, but also obtain surgeries that could help save their lives. “Sick people in need of surgery will often go home and pray for recovery,” says Dr. Mintesinot. “We are making a difference in this community, but we need to expand the services we provide to meet the growing need.”
Meklit Gareden, a 16-year-old girl from the area, donated 100 birr (about 7 U.S. dollars) to help with the construction of a surgical center. “I am happy to be a part of this,” said Meklit. “So many sick people have died, and I wanted to give what I could to help with this new project and help children.”
Meklit, just a child herself, and so many other residents donated what they could. It’s now our turn to match the community’s efforts and help make this surgical center a reality for the people of the Shinshicho area.
“We’re their only medical facility,” said Holt President and CEO Kim Brown, who traveled to Ethiopia during the medical campaign and witnessed firsthand the great need. “Each month, thousands of desperate families come for care. Many walk for miles with malnourished and sick children in their arms. We are looking forward to providing this surgical center to the people of this community.”
Where does Holt go from here? We do all we can to make sure that the precious children and their families are still receiving the best medical care and treatment possible. The next step is to get them the surgeries they desperately need through the creation of this surgical center.