In February, Dr. Robert Weiss, of The Connecticut Center for Advanced ENT Care in Norwalk, traveled to the Konso region of Ethiopia with a group called Ethiopia's Daughters.
“It’s a pretty remote tribal region,” says Weiss. “We’ve been going there since 2012, mainly for humanitarian purposes. We started off opening a field clinic out of the tail-gate of an SUV.”
Weiss, an ear, nose and throat specialist, drove around with other volunteers, providing basic medical treatment to a population in the southern part of the country that doesn’t get much medical help.
“It’s always different and amazing. We saw some things you’ll never see in civilized medicine,” explains Weiss, who treated a 14 year old with an acute case of polio. Doctors saw 175-200 patients a day.
Volunteers figured out, "what can we do on the spot?" They administered 140 doses of ear drops for infections and gave away more than 200 pairs of reading glasses.The founder of the group, Gerry Nichols, an operating room nurse at Norwalk Hospital, previously traveled to the area to guide bird-watching excursions. While on one of those trips, he saw the need for medical assistance in this area near the Kenyan border.Funds raised by this non-profit do not cover travel costs. Volunteers pay their own way. Instead, patients that could benefit from financial aid are identified and given money that will help them pursue their medical issues by traveling to a hospital, about 4 hours away. The 300,000 people in the region have food, shelter, clothing and livestock but not a lot of cash on hand.
The group is planning another trip, scheduled for January.
“We’re looking for volunteers, not just in the medical field, but we need support and staff, as well,” says Weiss, also the father of two girls, ages 18 and 21.Click here to see the web site for Ethipia's Daughters.