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Scots Catholics building Ethiopian health centre

Two Catholic women who support a clinic for women with medical problems in Ethiopia have helped lay the foundations of a new medical centre there.

Jo Middlemiss and Maureen Burnett visited Ethiopia this Spring. The Buccama Clinic, which they founded and have supported for many years, was facing a crisis. The Ethiopian Government had issued new regulations, which meant the clinic had to expand or face closure.

“As this no longer could be put off, we decided that it must get started whilst we were present,” Ms Middlemiss said. “We enabled some funding and it got going. Sr Haimanot and her team did all the admin ground work. As they own the land, there are none of the building/planning permission hassles that we might meet at home. It is hard to describe the level of excitement that the building of the new health centre has generated. This extension became essential, as the government decree was that Buccama would no longer get a license to practise, if it was not upgraded to a health centre.”

The Catholic duo’s charity work began after Ms Burnett visited Ethiopia and was introduced to the work of a clinic run by a Franciscan nun. She joined forces with her cousin Jo Middlemiss and together the two began the Ethiopia Medical Project, fundraising for the clinic and regularly travelling to the country to lend a hand.

The project supports the Clinic, which helps women suffering with uterine prolapse after childbirth. While the medical problem can be treated routinely in the west, in parts of Africa, women can be left ashamed and ostracised with little understanding of the problem and unable to even lift up their newly born children as a result of the condition.

This new building could stablise the future of the clinic for the furture.

“The laying of the foundation stone was a very moving ceremony,” Ms Middlemiss said. “A thoughtful and respectful builder built a little stone box into the foundations, and we placed some little tokens of faith in the project, rosary beads, and a St Christopher Medal as a time capulse in a jam jar.”

The pair had nothing but praise for Sr Hieranaut who runs the clinic.

“She’s a truly extraordinary woman,” she said. “We’re just helping her achieve what God has planned for her.”

 

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