Suruchi Ahuja is a UNICEF’s Next Generation Steering Committee member. We started our trip with a visit to the Neonatal Care Unit of Hospital Yekatit 12, which Next Gen helped fund. There we met one of the most dedicated and amazing neonatologists, Dr. Muluarem. She has been working tirelessly to create this clinic. Five years ago, she started in a single room with no equipment; today she has expanded into four rooms with trained nurses, fully developed protocol, beds and an incubator. As the new clinic is being finished, she is looking forward to having more space and equipment available for ‘her babies’ in order to continue her incredible work. Thank you Next Gen for making her vision possible!
Driving back from the hospital to Hawassa, we were all struck by the same thought: the country was incredibly beautiful and lush! The next day, we travelled to Boricha district to check out a local borehole that provided water to over 25,000 people. In this district, there is 9.4% water coverage. Many have to walk 5-7 km daily to get access to clean water. It was amazing to see so many young girls carry jerry cans weighing over 40 lbs!
We visited two different schools during our trip. At a child-friendly school in the East Badwacho District we were impressed with the separate latrines for boys and girls, a room full of teaching materials, and a library for the children to study. We soon discovered that the kids loved the camera! We had so much fun with them, but we’re pretty sure we disrupted all the studying that was meant to happen that day. Later, we visited an Alternative Basic Education Program (ABE) – a school built in an area where children otherwise wouldn’t have access to education. Here, we saw how UNICEF really does reach the hardest-to-reach! The community was surrounded by three gorges, which made it extremely difficult for any of the children to travel out of the area to go to school, so UNICEF came in a built a school accessible for them. As we entered the classroom, the children broke out into song about their studies, and helped us wish Next Gen a Happy Halloween for the upcoming Masquerade Ball.
Overall, the trip was exciting, fun and inspiring! These thoughts don’t do nearly enough justice to what we experienced. A big ‘Thank You” to the Ethiopia country office for hosting us!