We've done it. 2 months, 35 successful operations, 35 patients now smiling who couldn't even open their mouths to eat before, and a million memories I will never forget.
Ben arrived yesterday afternoon and was immediately set upon by 5 Ethiopian women who couldn't believe how tall he was. I don't know who was more dumbstruck....the shreiking women or Ben! He got roped into assisting with the patients today, who were delighted with the bags of lollipops he had brought with him.
Finally, at the end of the day it was time to say goodbye to our final patients....the Gambelans. A group of individuals who have been the life and soul of the mission. They come from the Gambela region in West Ethiopia, bordering Sudan, speak a completely different language and look more like Kenyans than Ethiopian, with their extremely dark skin and long slender limbs. As predicted there was laughter, hugs and tears as they departed.
We were also shown around the rest of the Cheshire today and spent some time with the polio children. All the wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs and orthopaedic shoes are made on site, and we were lucky enough to get to visit the workshops. The highlight of the visit was the hand-driven bike, which we each got a chance to try out. I had no idea it would be such hard work....needless to say my arms are a little on the sore side now.
Tomorrow, we leave the Cheshire and head for Addis Ababa, where we plan to climb Entoto mountain to get the best view of Addis before heading to a jazz club. Then Ben and I will say our goodbyes to Julia (doctor) and Melanie (nurse) before we head off to Bahir Dar at 0530 the next morning and the reality of travelling round an African country for 2 weeks with the big brother sets in!