MEDICINE HAT, AB. - A group from Medicine Hat travelled across the globe to Ethiopia to help provide medical and dental care for children in late October.
Annie Anderson, Dr. Matthew Gibb, Kari Gibb and Alynne Baiton spent two weeks helping over 100 children at an after school care centre funded by Canadian Humanitarian, a non-government organization based out of Medicine Hat
Dr. Gibb said they focus on providing meals, health care and additional education to the children.
“They have an interesting bottom up solution to poverty in Ethiopia,” he explained. “What they’re doing is trying to provide care for at risk kids in the worst situations in Ethiopia.”
The program has had great success at helping children succeed in furthering their education and trying to bring them out of poverty said Gibb.
“Ethiopia has about a 22 percent college entrance rate so kids that finish high school only a fifth of them go onto college education,” he explained. “Canadian Humanitarian is at a 92 percent college entrance rate.”
Gibb said although there is a publicly funded healthcare system, wait times to see a doctor or dentist can take days.
“One of the problems of people in the third world is access to care providers,” he explained. “In Medicine Hat, (there is) one dentist to every 600 to 700 people, and a place like Ethiopia you're much more likely to see 1 to 20,000 people.”
Paramedic Annie Anderson was able to help provide medical care to the children at the centre. She said many of the children had similar infections as children here, but due to the lack of medical care they become much worse.
“We would see kids that had ears infections so many times, over and over again that their ear drums were ruptured,” she explained, “All for the lack of a simple antibiotic.”
Kari Gibb is a mother of four and she said travelling across the world to help those most in need puts our stresses here into perspective.
“It was very eye opening, very sad,” she explained, “Because we do take so much here for granted.”
The group unanimously said they’ve gained a new outlook on the advantages we have in Canada and encourage anyone to consider volunteering if given the opportunity.
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