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Ethiopia

Why Ethiopia

Global Partners-Ethiopia teams deliver medical and surgical care, educational opportunities, encouragement and support for local healthcare providers, students and community members in collaboration with Project Mercy. Project Mercy is an Ethiopian-based NGO and is our new partner in Yetebon. This partnership includes University of Wisconsin-Madison and other organizations.

The United States and Ethiopia have a long history of partnership. Global Partners found a great opportunity to build upon those connections and help improve the quality of life in Ethiopian communities, focusing first on the Yetebon community.

  • Ethiopia faces extreme poverty, with nearly one in every three people live on less than $1.25 a day (World Bank, 2011).
  • Ethiopia faces a vast shortage of healthcare workers, with less than one physician for every 30,000 people, and less than three nurses and midwives for every 10,000 people. (World Health Organization, 2011).
  • The mortality rate for children under age 5 per 1,000 live births is 77, compared to the United States, which is 8 per 1,000 live births. (WHO, 2011).
  • Nearly 78 percent of the families in the Yetebon Region do not have access to clean drinking water. (Project Mercy, 2004).
  • A 2013 UNESCO report found that approximately 57 million children worldwide were not attending school in 2011— 29.8 million of those children were living in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Current Projects

  • Dental — Provide dental services to those living in the Yetebon area and increase capacity of Project Mercy staff to educate, clean teeth and triage patients for dental care.
  • General Surgery — Work alongside Ethiopian surgery staff at Project Mercy to provide surgical services to those living in the Yetebon area. Share surgical and nursing experiences and techniques between the GP and Project Mercy teams.
  • Nursing Education — Support the Health Sciences College in training nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists in the Yetebon area through textbook donations and other resources.
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology — Provide Ob/Gyn services to those living in the Yetebon area and increase the capacity of Project Mercy staff through training and equipment donation.
  • Podiatry — Provide podiatry services to those living in the Yetebon area and teach foot care and hygiene to staff and patients.
  • Vision Screening — Identify students who might be struggling with their learning due to a vision issue, which could be referred to an ophthalmologist in a nearby town.
  • Sewing — Repair and teach electric sewing machine techniques to several of the staff at Project Mercy in order for them to sew needed items for Project Mercy, hospital, school, or student population.

Volunteering

Due to political unrest in Ethiopia, our February 2017 trips are postponed until further notice.

Trip DatesTrip FocusRoles NeededSign-up Deadline
2017 TBD

General Surgery
Podiatry
Dental
Vision Screening

General Surgeons
Anesthetists
RNs
Surgery Techs
Podiatrists
Dentists or Oral Surgeons
Dental Assistants
Individuals to support vision screening

TBD
2017 TBD

Obstetrics
Podiatry
Dental
Vision Screening

OB/GYN providers
Podiatrists
Dentists or Oral Surgeons
Dental Assistants
RNs
Surgery Techs
Individuals to support vision screening

TBD

Each trip requires participation in several orientation sessions, which will prepare volunteers to encounter the culture, travel, language and other aspects of the volunteer service trip. Due to the community-based nature of our program, in-person attendance is required at these sessions and preference is given to volunteers from the local region (vs. those from outside this region). Details about these sessions will be sent out via email to the volunteers signed up for each trip following the sign-up deadline.

If you are interested in learning about opportunities to volunteer in Ethiopia, please complete a volunteer form.

Volunteers in Ethiopia must be able to endure long days (10+ hours) of physical activity, which may include standing, walking, light lifting and sitting. Volunteers must be age 16 or older. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Travel: Trips are typically two or more weeks in length. The group will leave from La Crosse, Wisconsin and travel for approximately 36 hours to arrive in Ethiopia. Project Mercy, where most teams work, is in the Yetebon region near the community of Butajira, which is located approximately 3 hours south of the capital city of Addis Ababa.

Cost: Flights to Ethiopia range greatly depending on multiple factors, but are typically around $1,500-$2,000+. Additional costs to cover lodging, in-country transportation, meals, and other shared team expenses for the trip is approximately $700-1000 per person. These volunteer costs will be paid to Global Partners and can be considered a charitable contribution for volunteer service work, per the IRS code. Additional expenses which will be each volunteer's responsibility to cover (i.e. these are not paid to Global Partners) include pre-trip immunizations, passport costs, visa and paperwork expenses, and medications (e.g. malaria prophylaxis). Total estimated cost per volunteer is $3,000-3,500.

Gundersen employees may apply for a Global Partners grant to help offset the costs of volunteering in Ethiopia (up to $500).

Medical Issues: Your trip leader will inform you of needed vaccinations and medications for travel to Ethiopia. Vaccinations need to be up-to-date. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended. Volunteers - please do not make an appointment to get your vaccines at Gundersen until AFTER your first orientation meeting.

Communication: Amharic is the primary language in Ethiopia. However many of the medical staff at Project Mercy speak some English. Interpreters will be available as needed. Learning phrases in Amharic is a helpful and friendly way to meet the Ethiopian people.

Passport: Your passport cannot be within 6 months of expiration or you will not be allowed into the country. If you are a frequent traveler, please check and see that you have enough pages available in your passport.

Time off: This is a volunteer experience for which you will not be paid. You may choose to take PTO or unpaid time off - you need to make arrangements with your manager. Gundersen associate and medical staff may also use CME time (but not CME money) to participate in a Global Partners trip.

Interested in learning more about the Ethiopia partnerships? Contact Global Partners office at (608) 775-9883 or GlobalPartners@gundersenhealth.org.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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