Arriving in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

It takes about a day and a half to get from the U.S. to Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. Our small volunteer group is made up of surgical mission veterans – all quite familiar with the long flights, immigration lines, long layovers and other challenges of international travel. Something felt a little different this time. One member of our team got held up by a delay in getting a visa granted. Our luggage was thoroughly inspected by customs (a nearly 2-hour wait). Team members were randomly held back at security checkpoints to double check passports and identity. 

So what’s happening? Two years of a pandemic plus an ongoing security situation in Ethiopia. Even though the areas of conflict are far from Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa, we are still experiencing the effects. Thanks to our host team led by Habtamu and Taitu Tour and Travel, we are kept safe and moved across the country as efficiently as possible. 

We had a few hours free Sunday morning for a short tour around the city of Bahir Dar. We visited a market and a hilltop with great views of the city, the immense Lake Tana, and the source of the Blue Nile. We were frequently greeted with children’s smiles, many jubilantly shouting “Farengi! Farengi!” (“Foreigners!”)

The afternoon was spent at the hospital, unpacking and beginning preparations for surgeries starting tomorrow morning. Melesse Gebeyehu, M.D., gave us a tour of the hospital and the surrounding campus, which is evolving into a state-of-the-art medical university. A basic science research building is being completed, and we also saw lecture halls, a library and housing for students. 

Dr. Melesse proudly shared that they now have a full otolaryngology training program. He shared, “the knowledge and training that you at CSI bring to us, will soon be passed on to our students and residents.”

Jesse Hennum, M.D. Pediatrician 

To see more photos, visit our Flickr album.”