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Sadness and hope

Today we are to visit the hospital which was originally a clinic of 20 beds, set up by Save the Children years ago. It now has increased to a 500 bed hospital, called Ad-din.

First impression is one of hustle and bustle just as in any UK hospital. The difference here is that we all take our shoes off before we enter the hospital. The cleaners are constantly sweeping and cleaning the floor. It is here we meet with Dr. Razzi  who will escort us around the baby nutrition clinic and labour ward.

As we walk down the corridors my first impression is one of sparseness- all very simple and basic. Once in the ward we meet some of the mothers with their poorly, undernourished babies. A little girl who at first glance looks about 12 months is, in fact, 2 and a half. Her mother only looks a child herself and tells us that she has another baby of 10 months. The older girl is badly undernourished and we are later told that she  also has cerebral palsy.

As she lies in her mother’s arms she is limp and lifeless, her legs and arms are thin and she makes no attempt to kick or try to stand, her eyes are huge and staring- there seems to be no life in them.

As we go from one mother to the next, the feeling is of immense grief and I choke back the tears of sadness and frustration that we have so much and these people have so little.

One bright light on this trip around the hospital is the new education program; a kitchen where mums are taught how to prepare simple, nutritious dishes for their babies. Hopefully this small step will give them a healthier future. Our next visit is the labour ward. We must leave our cameraman behind, as no men are allowed on the ward.

This ward is a long, narrow room with many beds. There is just enough room between the beds for the mothers to walk. Here are some of the success stories with mothers attending clinics and taking care of themselves. The result is that babies are of average weight and are healthy. What strikes you here is a lack of joy, there seems little excitement over the special babies they have. The ward is suffocating, so warm and dark, and as we chat a mother is crying out in the throws of childbirth. The delivery room is just a partition across the ward, very little privacy here.

As we leave the wards, I feel sadness and hope – people are trying to make things better for these mums and babies but they need so much. We meet up with Dr. Razzi who escorts us out. We are introduced to the hospital’s chief administrator and another public official. Everyone leaves very subdued and lost in their own thoughts- we are all sad at the things we’ve seen.

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