Thursday, March 31, 2011

Human Trafficking & Human Slavery

Today Sasu Nina, the Executive Directress of the organization Agar, came in with one of their clients. Agar, which means helper in the Ethiopian language, is an organization whose mission is caring for and empowering the vulnerable in Ethiopia. One of its project is to respond to and rehabilitate girls that have been abused from Human Trafficking.

Halimat is a 20-year-old girl from a very poor remote village in northeastern Ethiopia. She has no education and cannot read or write. Young men solicit these girls with stories of a plethora of opportunities and a good life working as a domestic in the Mideast. In their own village the future is one of despair and poverty, so the sales pitch falls on fertile ears. Usually the trafficking route is through Djibouti, on a ship across the Red Sea to Yemen, where they walk for endless miles, are put in trucks for many days, and are sold by brokers several times to dealers on their way to Mideast countries. They enter the countries illegally and are placed as domestic workers with no pay.

Halimat, after working for a family in Abu Dhabi for 20 months, asked for some salary. The wife in anger pushed her off a fourth floor balcony. She sustained multiple fractures of the jaw and face. She could not open her mouth. She also had a right femur fracture. The police arrested her in that once she stepped outside the house she was illegal, i.e. illegal domestics are a prisoner to the house and cannot leave. She had surgery on her femur and then she was put in jail. The police paid for her air ticket back to Ethiopia, where she had multiple surgeries on her mouth and face. Agar strives to rehabilitate these girls as there is nothing for them in their home villages.

Destination countries include Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Dubai and Lebanon. Sasu has had 128 girls this past year at Agar as a result of human slavery from these countries. In one case the girl’s legs were cut severely when she asked for a salary. Many end in death.

I cannot imagine the courage that these young girls have to muster to embark on this evil journey. In the face of dismal poverty, no hope for the future and no family support they entrust their lives to strangers on trust and hope alone. Then to be betrayed into slavery and abused emotionally and physically is an injustice that defies imagination. The kindness, compassion and love that Sasu and Agar give to these abused girls must be honored. If it soothes the wounds of one young girl, it is a job well done by a faithful servant. (For more information on Agar visit their website.)
-- Don

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fromsa Jemal, March 20, 2011

Fromsa Jemal, a 10 yr. old happy boy, was brought in by Sister Maria from the Sisters of Charity. This lad has had swelling of his right leg since birth, and consequently, his right leg has grown out of proportion to his left leg and the rest of his body. His mother has neurofibromatosis (von Recklinghausen’s disease; genetic transmission) as well as leprosy as seen in her hands. It was concluded that Fromsa’s case is giantism associated with neurofibromatoses. John Tanksley, a visiting orthopaedist from Missouri did an epiphysiodisis on the knee (tibia and femur)  to stop growth so his left leg could catch up in his remaining growing years. Vascular surgeons Kjell Manga Kiplinsund from Norway and Jan Koning from Delft, Netherlands, did a partial debulking.

The literature gives mixed reviews of this procedure and he may ultimately end up with an amputation. It is rather sad not only for the child but the mother, who most likely was hoping that he could support her in her old age as they are dirt poor. (See slideshow in sidebar.)
-- Don

Visitors, March 20, 2011

Vascular surgeons Dick Koning from Portland, Oregon, and his identical twin brother Jan from Delft, Netherlands, and Jan’s senior resident Brean Meese (who will graduate from surgery residency and also receive a PhD this spring with a vascular fellowship in Australia next year) were here for several weeks. They have contributed so greatly on their numerous trips to MCM with not only their surgical skills, but their wisdom and counsel. They energize all of us.
-- Don

Watch Out for the Red Shoes! March 20, 2011

 Brean Meese, Surgeon, The Netherlands, Dr. Tomas, Ethiopian Neurosurgeon, and I (Orthopaedics, USA) have decided to make an OR statement...beware of the Red Shoe Brigade! Give us an early OR starting time or those red shoes will go into action!!
-- Don

Run for the Burns, March 19, 2011

Saturday the ICS (International Community School) sponsored a fundraiser walk/run for Einar’s Children's Burn Care Foundation. There is a monumental need for resources for the burn victims, who most commonly are children impaired for life. These come usually from falling into a fire, such as a seizure patient, or hot oil or water from cooking spilling onto the body. Einar is committed to caring for these children and is a passionate advocate for them. He does life-changing work for children from all over Ethiopia and the surrounding countries. We were pleased to see some 300 people show up for the run, including Olympic Gold Medalists Meseret Defar (Athens 2004) and Million Wolde (Sydney 2000), both of whom raised awareness of the need. Of course Einar dressed me in a Burn T- shirt and conned me into sponsoring the fastest runners. It was a good day for a worthy cause. (See slideshow in sidebar.)

-- Don

Monday, March 14, 2011

Baby Cheetah, Followup, March 14, 2011

Today I received the following good news email from Steve:
"Hi Don

Just a quick note to say thank you for your help with the little cheetah (called Kuching) on Saturday. Both Rea and I, and I am sure Kuching, were very grateful. Rea took him back to the site on Saturday and I saw him yesterday. The cast seems to be holding and he is playing happily with his litter mates, so fingers crossed all will be well.

Once I have got through the next two weeks of manic-work & visitors, I will be in touch and get you, Einar, and the others out to the site.

Wishing you a good week and, again, thanks.


-- Don

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Baby Cheetah, March 12, 2011

Each day is an adventure full of surprises. Today, Saturday, was no different. I missed morning conference at 8 AM as I overslept from having read a novel late into the night. When I got to the hospital there was a call from Stephen Brend, Project Director, Born Free Ethiopia. They are working jointly with the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Initiative. The story unfolds in the X-ray department.

Poachers were stopped at the border of Ethiopia and Somaliland (the upper third of Somalia), and they found four cheetah cubs about 3-months old, which the authorities immediately confiscated and took to their conservation post at Holeta, some 40 kilometers from Addis Ababa. The poachers had killed the mother and were taking the cubs to Somalia to sell to sheiks in the Mideast as they are highly desired as pets. The cubs were placed in the program of rehabilitation to be returned to the wild of Ethiopia when a carpenter doing some repairs at the conservation post suddenly hit one male cub with a large stick and broke its front leg and possibly the scapula. Their wildlife veterinarian, Rea Tschopp, bound the foreleg to the body and asked for an X-ray.

We were asked to obtain the X-ray and with Dr. Soloman’s permission a team of us, with the help of sedation, got the X-ray. The humerus was fractured and widely displaced. With Ketamine sedation in the emergency room we manipulated the fracture, applied a cast, and then rebound the foreleg to the chest.

We elected not to get a post-reduction X-ray as the veterinarian, Rea, was uncomfortable with giving him more sedation. He was a sleepy boy when he left to be returned to the wildlife conservation post. He will be given special care for the next several weeks.

Steve says that wildlife conservation efforts in Ethiopia are encouraging and the numbers of animals are increasing. However, it seems that cheetahs are a prime target of poachers, which makes them particularly vulnerable. Their speed of up to 70 miles per hour is unsurpassed in wildlife, so our little one will have to make a dramatic recovery to regain the ability to hunt in the wild again.
(See slideshow in sidebar for more photos.)
-- Don