Saving Lives In Mekelle

Maureen and Dr. Sarah Philip at the sparkling new hospital in Mekelle.

After Maychew, we went to Mekelle and met VSO volunteers Dr. Sarah Philip, a 32-year-old obstetrician and gynecologist from Yorkshire, England, and Dr. Tsitsi Chawatama, a 33-year-old pediatrician also from the UK. Sarah met us at the front door of Ayder Hospital, connected with Mekelle University’s college of health science. “I’ve just gotten off night duty, so shall we go for coffee?” she asked. Tsitsi joined us and we headed to the hospital cafeteria where we ordered steaming macchiato. “I thought I was going home and then they called me to do three emergency c-sections. I’m a little tired, so excuse me if I’m a little slow this morning,” explained Sarah. Both Sarah and Tsitsi were a few months into their one-year placements. Tsitsi explained her role as “developing services to reduce neo-natal mortality and teaching student doctors.” Sarah, whose mom and brother had volunteered for VSO in the past, was finding herself doing a combination of surgery and teaching. Five years into her specialist training in the UK (she has two more to go), she finds the experience is rewarding. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to come as a trainee doctor. I have skills that save lives and I can see the line between life and death even more clearly here.”

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