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OUR STORY

Curious to know why Engera USA is so passionate about supporting Engera’s mission? To truly understand, we invite you on a journey back to where it all began.

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Introduction

In 2005, friends of mine decided to adopt a three-month-old girl from Ethiopia, who was seriously ill, and asked me to accompany them on the journey to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. This trip turned out to be a literally life-changing experience for me. Little had I expected that this experience would trigger a deep connection to Ethiopia and the realization that my skills as a pediatrician could make a meaningful impact. This blog recounts my journey and demonstrates the importance of collaboration, cultural sensitivity, and building sustainable medical support.

Discovering a Purpose

Upon my return from Ethiopia, a deep desire to make a bigger difference drove me to regularly visit orphanages in Ethiopia and provide medical care. Soon I was joined by my friend and fellow pediatrician Giuseppe Indolfi, and other dedicated volunteers. These initial encounters highlighted the urgent need for medical expertise and resources throughout Ethiopia and renewed our commitment to the Hippocratic Oath.

Forging Local Connections

As our visits progressed, we recognized the importance of building strong local connections. It was during this time that Giuseppe and I had the privilege of meeting the Bishop of Emdibir, a compassionate person who genuinely cares about all people, regardless of their religious background. He urged us to expand our horizons beyond Addis and explore Gurage, an area in great need of medical assistance. Intrigued by his words, we decided to accept his invitation and embarked on a journey to Gurage.

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Embracing Gurage

Our first visit to Gurage left an indelible imprint on our hearts as we were warmly welcomed by the community. In this remarkable corner of Ethiopia, we were confronted with the harsh reality of limited access to healthcare. It became clear that meeting a doctor was an unfamiliar concept for many, and the lack of adequate medical resources resulted in tragic circumstances where women lost their lives on stretchers en route to distant hospitals.

 

Driven by a shared determination to bring about positive change and provide sustainable medical support, we started on a transformative mission. Through the Bishop, we met Sister Surabhila, an extraordinary person whom I now consider a cherished member of my family. Sister Surabhila, with her small health post in Gurage, embodied an unwavering dedication to care, even though she lacked the necessary resources. When she realised the immense potential impact, she approached us with a request: to build Zizencho. As a result, we decided to create an organisation called Engera, named after 'Injera', the widely used Ethiopian word for bread. We felt that this name reflected the importance of our work and underscored the essential role that healthcare plays in the lives of the people we serve.

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Building Zizencho

Zizencho is an isolated village in the highlands. The village had no real road, no electricity and no running water. Over the years, Engera has built a medical center in Zizencho, which includes a prenatal and postnatal ward, a tuberculosis center, and a well that provides clean water to the village and supplies water to 5,000 families. About 30,000 people live in the catchment area of the center and some 41,000 people now use the services each year, including some from outside the area. Over the years, the center has grown from a small clinic into an established health center. The establishment of Zizencho became a cornerstone in our journey, laying the foundation for our approach to understanding local needs and enhancing healthcare services.

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It marked the beginning of a profound and ongoing relationship with Gurage and the Ethiopian Catholic Church. Sister Surabhila's vision aligned perfectly with our Hippocratic aims and sparked a shared commitment to improve access to health care and empower the community.

A Collaborative Approach
Over time, our support has expanded to also include three existing health centers: Dakuna, Maganesse, and Burat in Gurage, as well as a small clinic called Galeya Rogdha in the Southwest Shewa zone in Oromia. In 2014, we funded the construction of another health center in Gurage called Shebraber, run by Sister Meskel. Our approach to working with all these health facilities is based on discretion and respect for local social and cultural structures while offering our expertise. Building trust and partnership with the community is paramount. We prioritize the voices and experiences of the local communities, and ensure that our healthcare interventions align with their priorities, knowledge and aspirations.


Our efforts go beyond addressing immediate medical needs. We focus on community empowerment by providing health education, training local health workers and implementing sustainable health practices. Through these initiatives, we aim to create a lasting impact that extends beyond our visits.

Looking Into the Future
Our trip to Ethiopia was a transformative experience, shaped by the warmth and resilience of the people we met. It is important to approach such projects with humility, respect, and a commitment to strengthening local communities. We strongly believe that sustainable change is possible through collaboration, cultural understanding, and a focus on long-term solutions. Together, we can close the gap in access to healthcare and positively impact the lives of the local communities.

In the future we aim to continue our work in Gurage and Southern Ethiopia and to maintain and expand the quality of health provision in the area. We hope that we might be able to draw on your support for our work and we are looking forward to telling you more about it.

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