Aira Hospital

Aira Hospital


Today we will learn a bit about what has happened in Aira since our last time there. We anticipate spending some time with hospital administration and staff today – reviewing past evaluations and recommendations, seeing the current state of the hospital, and making a plan for the rest of our days in Aira. I can’t help but believe we’ll make a quick trip to the seminary too, maybe for tea and cookies under the trees with the students there.



The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:7-10).

Moses was sent to Egypt to “rescue” the Israelites. In no way are we in Aira to “rescue them.” We are here to walk with them, to hear not only their cries but also to rejoice with them. We are here to be the church together. Sometimes that is what is needed – not to come with solutions, but to stand together in the face of difficulty, to bring new insights and experiences, to listen and hear, to respond with hope and encouragement. The reality is that the Aira Hospital is of vital importance to people in the Wolega area, one of only a few hospitals in the entire western part of the country. It is crucial that it become financially healthy. Ron’s work with the administration and Rachel’s observations of equipment needs will be part of that assistance. 



Personally, today was one of those days you never expect to experience. Rev. Tadese and I were surveying the area at Onesimus Nesib Seminary where the women’s dormitory will be build – a beautiful area toward the back of the campus, with a splendid view of the valley just off to the west. They have cleared the land, and are about to start excavating. The construction company owner was there, making plans, talking with Tadese. Then he asked Tadese if we could “bless” the site with a prayer, “dedicate it and prepare it for God’s work.” So Tadese, the contractor, two of his employees and I stood in a circle, held hands, and they asked that I lead the prayer. We thanked God for the work of the seminary, prayed for the women who would find their home here, rejoiced at the global dimension of God’s church, and asked for safety for the workers. When we ended, the contractor said, “Good. Now we can begin.” It was an emotional and faith-filled experience, and our prayers will continue for the construction.

As we left chapel at the seminary, we saw that a very large truck had backed down the hill into the seminary campus and dropped off many, many bags of cement for the building. They couldn’t get close to the construction site, so several young men each stood with his back to the truck as the men on the truck placed a large sack on his shoulders. Then the carrier sprinted to the construction site where he delivered his bag. Construction is an entirely different enterprise here.

In the afternoon Girma and I met with President Iteffa, the head of the synod. We had an honest and open conversation about the challenges facing the synod. He expressed his gratitude many times for our work with the hospital and the seminary. At the end of the meeting, I presented him with a prayer shawl. I wrapped it around his shoulders and told him that, when he faced difficult times in the synod, he should wrap this around him and he would know that the prayers of the people of God at Good Shepherd surrounded him. He was moved.

Meanwhile, back at the hospital Ron, Rachel and Girma spent the morning meeting with the administrative team. Here’s Rachel’s report:

We finally made it to Aira Hospital! It was such a great day getting to know the hospital staff and meeting some of the patients. Ron, Girma and I spent the first half of the day meeting with the administrative team to talk about issues that the hospital is facing. Ron, as a representative from Global Health Administrative Partners, led the meeting.

In the afternoon I met up with Ruth, the nurse matron. She is a very kind, warm-hearted women and was so excited to show me all around the hospital. She showed me all of the hospital wards such as maternity, pediatric, medical-surgical, etc.  Each ward was one big room with about ten beds inside, very different than what you see in the hospitals in the U.S. It was also extremely interesting to see the admissions area and see how many patients show up for care each day, and learn about how far some of the patients had traveled just to get to the hospital. I also met up with Dr. Tariku and he showed me around the operation suites. It was amazing to learn about the types of the surgery that they are able to do with lack of resources, staff and the conditions of the operating room. I’m hoping to be able to see a surgery with Dr. Tariku tomorrow. Also, while I was touring the hospital I ran into a women who was wearing scrubs from Mayo Hospital in Eau Claire, which is the hospital I do nursing clinicals at back in the U.S!!!!!  I tried to talk to the women about it, but she didn’t speak English well. Someone must have donated them to the hospital at some point. I was astonished at how small are world is after seeing this!

Later on in the afternoon, Ron and I met up with the director of the nursing and midwifery school. It was so interesting to learn about their program. Right now the midwife students are doing their practicum in the hospital, and 32 of them will be graduating by January of next year. It’s very exciting for the hospital and clinics to be able to use these nurse midwives. The infant and maternal mortality rates are extremely high in Ethiopia, and they’re in need of maternal and newborn care. On Monday morning, I’ll be meeting with all of the nursing students. I’m very excited to get to know all of them.

It was such a great day at the hospital! But I was very excited to head back to the guest house and get some rest after a long day.

In the evening we had dinner at our guest house, and then there was a knock on the door. It was Rev. Tadese (from the seminary) and Megersa (head of the nursing school). How fun it was to sit together and hear stories and learn more about each other. There was much laughter. God has delightfully endearing people in every part of the world!