January 1, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ethiopia: Return to our COS - Ethiopia: Ostomy Quarterly: Bob and Pat Parish returned last October, forty years after being married in the capital of Addis Ababa at the end of our two years of Peace Corps teaching

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Library: Peace Corps: Return to our Country of Service : Peace Corps Volunteers Return to our Country of Service: January 1, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ethiopia: Return to our COS - Ethiopia: Ostomy Quarterly: Bob and Pat Parish returned last October, forty years after being married in the capital of Addis Ababa at the end of our two years of Peace Corps teaching

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-123-27.balt.east.verizon.net - on Wednesday, March 09, 2005 - 3:52 am: Edit Post

Bob and Pat Parish returned last October, forty years after being married in the capital of Addis Ababa at the end of our two years of Peace Corps teaching

Bob and Pat Parish returned last October, forty years after being married in the capital of Addis Ababa at the end of our two years of Peace Corps teaching

Bob and Pat Parish returned last October, forty years after being married in the capital of Addis Ababa at the end of our two years of Peace Corps teaching


Jan 1, 2005

Colostomate Bob Parish is the president of the Hemet/San Jacinto UOA Chapter in California and his wife, Pat, is the treasurer. They journeyed to Africa to deliver ostomy supplies for the Friends of Ostomates Worldwide charity and were surprised and delighted by what they saw.

Ethiopia, East Africa, is the only country on that continent that traces its complete history through Biblical times. Often referred to as "The land of the Queen of Sheba," Ethiopia claims relationship to King Solomon, the son of David in the Old Testament of the Bible. According to Ethiopian tradition, the beautiful queen was seduced by Solomon when she went to seek his wisdom. Upon returning to Ethiopia, she gave birth to their son. The king, who had been smitten by Sheba, gave the treasured Hebrew Ark of the Covenant to the son Sheba bore to him. Most Ethiopians believe that that same Ark resides in the city of Axum today.
(No wonder Indiana Jones had trouble with the Eost Ark!!) To further verify their claim to Solomon and Sheba, Ethiopians point to the Falasha tribe, sometimes called "The Black Jews of Africa," which still holds closely to many Jewish traditions.

Top left: Bob and Pat Parish at Desta Mendir with head mistress and urostomates. Left: Stoma Therapist Ruth Cadissa. Top: Dr. Frehiwot giving Pat Parish a traditional dress.

Ethiopians also proudly point out that Christianity was brought to them by the Ethiopian eunuch, who, in the book of Acts in the New Testament, had the apostle, Phillip, interpret a portion of Isaiah. The eunuch asked to be baptized, and, as a leader of the Ethiopian royal court, brought Christianity to their country.

To this historical mountainous country, split in half by the Great Rift Valley which forms numerous great canyons and high plateaus of 7,000 - 12,000 feet, Bob and I returned last October, forty years after being married in the capital of Addis Ababa at the end of our two years of Peace Corps teaching. We had met in the town of Dessie, 200 miles north of the capital. Pat was then Miss Summers to her Ethiopian students, who in turn called her "Tsahainesh," which meant, "You are Sunshine." Bob was Mr. Parish or "Nitchras" which meant "white hair" (for his sun-bleached blond hair) or "wise one" since white hair came with age and thus, wisdom in the thinking of his students.
Forty years ago, we celebrated our marriage by visiting Emperor Haile Selassie's palace zoo. This time, we were returning for a much different purpose.

Being retired teachers, we frequently spend vacations volunteering on various projects in the U.S. and around the world, Mescalero Apache Indian Reservations, Baja California, Yucatan Peninsula, Soviet Union, etc. This all come to a halt in 1999 when Bob was diagnosed with colorectal cancer! After twenty-seven surgeries, two months of radiation and six months of chemotherapy which put Bob on a permanent colostomy, we thought the life of volunteer work in unusual places in the world was over.

However, three years into his colostomy, Bob decided he was strong enough to try a project in Peru with Medical Ministry International. This first venture into foreign travel with an ostomy was such a success that we decided to try another undertaking. Plans to return to Peru the summer of 2004 were underway when Bob was elected president of the Hemet/San Jacinto Chapter of UOA. The Louisville, Kentucky conference was going to occur at the same time as the Peru trip. Although we were pleased to attend the conference, there were elements of sadness in missing out on Peru. However, at the conference, we heard about Friends of Ostomates Worldwide (P.O.W.) and ostomy materials that had been sent to Ethiopia.
We thought how wonderful it would be to accompany those supplies one day.

When friends returned from Peru, they told us to get online regarding another MMI trip in January. As Bob scanned down the MMI Projects, an eye clinic in Ethiopia popped up. It was scheduled for October 9-23, only five weeks away! Immediate e-mails were sent to MMI. On August 31 came the message to "Join us for the first MMI Project to Ethiopia." Unlike the previous MMI trip of fifty plus volunteers, there would be only five of us, including Bob and myself.

Needless-to-say, a hectic five weeks ensued with decisions to be made on the length of this trip. We knew we would need about a month. How were we going to pay for the trip? How does one pack for a month on the other side of the world, especially since MMI was sending us tubs and tubs of medical supplies to carry in addition to our belongings! There were shots, visas, ostomy supplies to obtain for a month. Who would care for our dalmatian? We needed to establish contact with F.O.W. and obtain information on the hospitals and/or other recipients of ostomy supplies in Ethiopia. We heard that many of our former students were killed or put into prison during the communist take-over.
Could we find any of them still alive?

Pieces of this complex arrangement kept falling into place. Bob's Idyllwild Rotary Club, our Idyllwild Community Presbyterian Church and individuals supported us financially and with prayers. Online communication with Fred Moore and Joan Loyd at F.O.W. put us in touch with the Women's Fistula Hospital and the Black Lion Hospital in Addis. A former student offered to care for our dog. Everything fell into place and we were off to Ethiopia!

Upon completion of the two-week eye clinic in Soddo where we assisted with 100 cataract surgeries and distributed 700 reading glasses, we returned to Addis, the capitol, and contacted the Women's Fistula Hospital. After three phone calls to Ruth C. Kennedy, the liaison coordinator for the hospital, we were contacted by Ruth Gadissa. Ruth came to the guesthouse where we were staying in Addis. This beautiful, thirty-year-old woman who had only two days of stomatherapy training in South Africa, is the only person trained to work with stomas in a country of 70 million!

Her job is an overwhelming task with hundreds of urostomates. Was she daunted? Not the least! Her lovely smile beamed with joy that God was able to use her in this special way with the thousands of girls who are forced to go through fistula surgery and the hundreds who result in urostomies.

Her first good news was that the pallet of supplies from F.O.W. had arrived with no problems from customs just a few weeks before our arrival. Her second good news was that everything could be used, however not at the fistula hospital. She had many things taken over to the Black Lion Hospital for their use. Ninety percent of the patients at the fistula hospital are urostomates!

What is a fistula? It is an abnormal passage from an internal organ to the body surface or to another organ. They can cause leakage, infections and even death. In Ethiopia, it most commonly occurs during prolonged labor in childbirth. It is the custom for girls to marry between 12 and 14 or before their first menstrual period. Thus, these young teenagers are frequently giving birth before their own pelvises have fully formed. The fetus is often much too big for an ordinary delivery. Girls are taught to squat and push the baby out. However, after two, three or four days of excruciating pain, the baby is not only dead, but the mother's bladder has ruptured in numerous places.
Sometimes the dead fetus is naturally expelled. However, the young wife's problems are just about to begin.

Urine seeps into the vaginal area and her husband is appalled and leaves her. She has no control over the leakage which can even include fecal matter. She smells horrendous. Her own family no longer wants her. If she doesn't die from infection, she dies from neglect. This goes on daily in thousands of grass huts throughout Ethiopia.

Only a fortunate few have family members who will put her on a pallet and carry her for three or more days up and down mountain pathways to a hospital that hopefully can perform the correct surgery to mend the young girl. There are projects going on to encourage later marriage for women, but customs held to for thousands of years are difficult to change.

Ruth Gadissa gave us a list of the urostomy materials needed, which we have passed on to F.O.W. Ruth also requested booklets that would show pictures of people wearing or putting on flanges and bags. Any video of such procedures would also be welcome since they have VHS access. Ruth profusely told us to thank F.O.VV. for all the creams, ointments, powders and belts. These girls are very small in size. Ruth helps them to measure their stomas and the templates for this are extremely helpful.

She gave us a "shopping list" of supplies needed. With her excellent English, she was apologetic for requesting so much, but emphasized how none of these supplies are available anywhere in the country.

Bob and I were taken to Desta Mendir, "City of Joy," by Ruth. This beautiful place, 17 kilometers from Addis on a high green plateau and surrounded by rolling green hills with beautiful white cottages, has become home for many of the girls with urostomies who can no longer return to their families. Most of us cannot imagine the unsanitary conditions most of the young girls have lived in.

Few have experienced running water or electricity in their grass and mud homes. One simply finds a spot of dirt somewhere behind their grass house to relieve themselves. Water is often car\ried from a river down a series of narrow mountain paths and then back up rocky, dirt paths. This water is only used for drinking and cooking. Clothing is infrequently washed in the river, where one also infrequently bathes. Desta Mendir has become a pristine place of serenity and refuge for its inhabitants.

Here, Ruth holds meetings with the girls to help them with their supplies. She has been trying to show some of them how to use night bags for their urostomies, but many are still uncomfortable with this. They'd rather wake each other up to go to the bathroom which to them is amazingly located in a special room in their cottage, along with shower stalls! The girls all are in literacy classes, both English and Amharic, the Ethiopian language spoken most widely in the country. Only six percent of females in Ethiopia are literate! The girls also are learning math, crafts, gardening, cooking skills and many practical endeavors.
We are attempting to send teaching materials to Desta Mendir through the fistula hospital.

During our visit, we were invited to have a lunch that the girls had prepared. Injerra, a two-foot diameter gray, pancake-like bread and wat, a hot-spicy stew, makes up the typical food. No utensils are used. One pulls off a bit of the injerra and dips it in the stew, picking up pieces of vegetable or meat. The girls also put on a special coffee ceremony for us. Ethiopians pride themselves with the coffee grown there. In fact, they point to the province of Kaffa where the name for "coffee" originated.

Desta Mendir has a nurse/housemother who lives on the compound. She also distributes ostomy supplies to the young women as well as other necessary medicines. She is much loved by everyone and was appointed by Dr. Catherine Hamlin, the woman who started the fistula hospital, to oversee Desta Mendir. This elderly lady has written most of the books used to train nurses throughout the whole country.

Two other teachers drive in from Addis each day to instruct the girls in crafts and in literacy. Bob shared his colostomy with the girls; they were amazed that a man has an ostomy! Ruth translated for Bob and explained that his was from cancer. The girls were amazed that one could travel from America with an ostomy! Even I became more amazed as I saw how well my husband managed his stoma. In some ways, I was even envious, especially when some toilets were only holes in the ground! A pouch was a lot easier to empty!

We were also amazed to find a plaque on one of the buildings showing contributions from Rotary International and one of the safe- water wells put onto the property by another Rotary group. It was very difficult to leave this lovely place of serenity and repose and the beautiful young girls learning to live with urostomies. With our limited Amharic, we learned that some of these girls want to become nurses like the beautiful young model-nurse, Ruth Gadissa, they were learning so much from.

Upon our return to Addis, Ruth took us on a tour of the Women's Fistula Hospital. This immaculate, sweet-smelling ward of dozens of beds filled with patients emanated caring and compassion. We saw Hollister boxes under many of the beds. This company certainly has been most generous with their supplies to Ethiopia. Dr. Hamlin and her husband, Rex, with the help of Empress Taitu, were instrumental in building this facility where over 37,000 fistula surgeries have been performed. Their son, Richard, appears to be carrying on the family tradition. We encourage everyone to read Dr. Hamlin's book, The Hospital by the River, A Story of Hope to understand better the plight of Ethiopian women.

Our sincere wish is to have Ruth Gadissa come to the U.S. for complete ET/WOCN training. Perhaps some of the readers of this article will be able to help provide a scholarship for her. Ruth Kennedy, liaison at the fistula hospital, called us on our last day in Ethiopia to make a request. They would take care of the airfare if only the training, lodging and food for her stay could be provided. People here would not just be helping this young woman, but all the ostomates of Ethiopia. How blessed we are to be Americans and to have so many valuable resources available to us!

We have so much more to share: the needs of the Dessie Regional and Referral Hospital which also does fistula and colostomy surgery; the number of smaller hospitals and clinics throughout the country; the cataract surgeries with which we assisted; the incredible work going on in the prisons throughout the country (these prisoners are, for the most part, political prisoners); discovering students and their children from over forty years ago; meeting Ethiopian doctors who see the needs of their own people and desire specific books for us to send; seeing the HIV/AIDS projects and the much needed orphan and refugee work going on throughout the country; the growth of the Kali Hiwot (Word of Life) and the Makane Yesus (Dwelling Place of Jesus) Churches throughout the country and their partnerships with World Vision for working on needs too numerous to mention here; the work with the hundreds of thousands of cases of elephantiasis, where people are shunned more than lepers, but could be helped if they only had shoes; etc, etc.
Each one of these is a story in itself!

Yes, my marvelous ostomate husband did heroically on this trip, sharing not only at Desta Mendir, but in a number of other situations. I'll conclude with an incident at the Dessie Hospital, where an overworked surgeon and director took us through a very rundown facility housing 210 patients and a dozen more on beds in the corridors. Dr. Misganaw took us to where a new colostomate lay. The man was frightened as the doctor pulled back the sheet and showed us the make-shift plastic bag attached with tape. Bob pulled his zipper slightly down to release a triangle of his jeans and pointed to his colostomy.
Taking the man's hand, Bob said, "God had been healing me of my cancer with this ostomy so I can come from the other side of the world and give you hope."

The new ostomate's frightened family nearby had tears running down their faces and the man stared at Bob with wide eyes. Over and over again, people came to us and grasped our hands, saying, "You cared enough to come. We can't thank you enough." What an incredible blessing these people were to us!

The Friends of Ostomates Worldwide-USA, Inc., is an IRS- approved, 501(C)(B), all volunteer-run organization which collects surplus, donated ostomy supplies for shipment to places of need throughout the world.

In all cases, the supplies are distributed to needy persons, free of charge, under the direction of a responsible person, knowledgeable in ostomy management, such as an ET nurse. FOW-USA relies on contributions from individuals and organizations to cover the costs of packing and shipping the supplies. Please send surplus supplies to:


4304 Regency Drive

Glenview, IL 60025-5200


Copyright United Ostomy Association Inc. Winter 2005

When this story was posted in February 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 7 2005 No: 438 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in over 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related reference material in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can use the Main Index to find hundreds of stories about RPCVs who have your same interests, who served in your Country of Service, or who serve in your state.

WWII participants became RPCVs Date: February 13 2005 No: 442 WWII participants became RPCVs
Read about two RPCVs who participated in World War II in very different ways long before there was a Peace Corps. Retired Rear Adm. Francis J. Thomas (RPCV Fiji), a decorated hero of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, died Friday, Jan. 21, 2005 at 100. Mary Smeltzer (RPCV Botswana), 89, followed her Japanese students into WWII internment camps. We honor both RPCVs for their service.

February 12, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: February 12 2005 No: 443 February 12, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Peter McPherson keeping busy in DC 12 Feb
Martha Ryan wins Award for pre-natal program 12 Feb
John Perkins reveals dark side of U.S. aid 10 Feb
Kathleen DeBold involved in lesbian activism 10 Feb
Jim Doyle to fix Wisconsin deficit without raising taxes 10 Feb
Chris Dodd proposes Class Action Fairness Act 10 Feb
RPCVs create Tsunami Assistance Project for India 9 Feb
Donna Shalala talks about her Peace Corps days 8 Feb
Senator Frist proposes Global Health Corps 8 Feb
Bush's budget to end Perkins loan forgiveness for PCVs 8 Feb
Tom Petri's Direct Loan Reward Act to save $18 billion 8 Feb
Izaak Edvalson helps educate a Doctor 7 Feb
Carol Bellamy condemns Female genital mutilation 7 Feb
Carl Pope criticizes Bush environmental priorities 7 Feb
Mike Tidwell defends wind farms 6 Feb
Kinky Friedman for real? Voters may not care 5 Feb
Bruce Anderson's Newspaper folds amid money woes 5 Feb

Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps Date: February 7 2005 No: 436 Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps
The White House is proposing $345 Million for the Peace Corps for FY06 - a $27.7 Million (8.7%) increase that would allow at least two new posts and maintain the existing number of volunteers at approximately 7,700. Bush's 2002 proposal to double the Peace Corps to 14,000 volunteers appears to have been forgotten. The proposed budget still needs to be approved by Congress.
RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service Date: January 30 2005 No: 405 RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service
RPCV Groups mobilize to support their Countries of Service. Over 200 RPCVS have already applied to the Crisis Corps to provide Tsunami Recovery aid, RPCVs have written a letter urging President Bush and Congress to aid Democracy in Ukraine, and RPCVs are writing NBC about a recent episode of the "West Wing" and asking them to get their facts right about Turkey.
RPCVs contend for Academy Awards  Date: January 31 2005 No: 416 RPCVs contend for Academy Awards
Bolivia RPCV Taylor Hackford's film "Ray" is up for awards in six categories including best picture, best actor and best director. "Autism Is a World" co-produced by Sierra Leone RPCV Douglas Biklen and nominated for best Documentary Short Subject, seeks to increase awareness of developmental disabilities. Colombian film "El Rey," previously in the running for the foreign-language award, includes the urban legend that PCVs teamed up with El Rey to bring cocaine to U.S. soil.
Ask Not Date: January 18 2005 No: 388 Ask Not
As our country prepares for the inauguration of a President, we remember one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and how his words inspired us. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.
RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Ostomy Quarterly

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ethiopia; Return to our COS - Ethiopia



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.