… and the goat and gazelle

Today the first course reached its happy conclusion with 30 nurse/midwives completing 4 days of theoretical and practical training in Life Saving Skills in Essential Obstetric and Newborn Care. Local faculty members and organisers combined forces with the four visitors from UK (representing England, Scotland, Nigeria and Tanzania in terms of our respective home countries) and worked consistently and unstintingly with students of mixed ability, experience and responsibility from health clinic staff providing mainly antenatal care to hospital based midwives facing a variety of challenging emergencies. But I haven’t finished the story of how we got here …

Well guarded hotel approach, Hargeisa

Our arrival in Hargesia was heralded by the steady increase in plastic bags caught in the thorn bushes, the sudden deterioration in the road surface as if we had passed from Gwynedd into Denbighshire and the numbers of people, vehicles and dwellings. Otherwise there was none of the western buildings or highway appendages like signs and street lights that one has come to expect with civilization. We weaved through the traffic and took various turnings until we arrived outside the courier’s house and he said in effect, Goodbye, I’m on holiday now. By mid-afternoon we were at the Maan-Soor Hotel compound which we approached through a defensive chicane built of concrete blocks designed to protect the interests of the UN staff resident here. All of the buildings are surrounded by concrete blocks painted to look like zebras but don’t be fooled. Zebras move and these don’t.

Gazelle with attitude

A small group of tame gerenuug, antelope and gazelle inside the grounds was grazing on the scanty thorn-bush foliage, their long necks demonstrating their position in the animal kingdom somewhere between antelope and giraffe. I later discovered these are part of the security system when a gazelle with attitude decided to attack me with some vigour after we had apparently made friends and it had enjoyed a refreshing 10 minutes of licking the salt from my hands. As we parted company (my idea) it decided to challenge my right to leave and charged several times, its long straight horns threatening some significant damage, each charge having to be fended off by catching the horns in one hand. I needed the other hand for the camera. Five unsuccessful attempts were enough to establish me as the dominant male and he ran off to a safe distance and I went to retrieve my washing draped over the bushes lest he discover an alternative way to annoy me, by eating them.

No milk today ...

The remainder of the days have been much less exciting but more purposeful. After Friday resting we started in earnest and Mselenge arrived half way through the first day having found a suitable direct flight. The students became much more relaxed and involved from the second day and the course went with a swing. We survived on roast goat, chicken and fish curry (there it is again) with goat being number one menu item from my point of view. The main enterprise and source of income for Somaliland is the rearing and export of goat. They are found everywhere on the streets (none of which has a name but the drivers never seem to get lost) eating goodness knows what rubbish and converting it to excellent milk and meat.

Teaching vacuum delivery

And so tomorrow we start again. Another group, the same material. Another day, the same faculty. It’s demanding work but rewarding and we look forward to another day of rest on Friday …



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3 responses to “… and the goat and gazelle

  1. Sorry about the confusing taxonomy. It’s the gerenuug or gerenuk that has the long neck not the antelope and gazelle … maybe I’ll post a picture on the next blog.

  2. Betty Rowlands

    Sounds a really exiting place again,glad you are safe!Thank you for the blog,interesting reading.Gwen came Sunday and enjoyed the read.All the best and enjoy your time there.Betty and Ned.

  3. Linda Wildsmith

    Gosh Adrian
    We are so glad you are safe!!! The arrival sounded rather scary to say the least. You are the only person I know who would be fighting an animal and taking photos at the same time!! Glad you are not a news reporter in a war zone!!! Don’t know how Hilary copes but I have a degree in worrying!!!!joke!
    You are doing some amazing work again though. Take good care
    Love Linda and Ken

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