June 28, 2019

I can tell you’re enjoying yourself!

from Sr. Ursula-Maria Bitterli, Quarten (Switzerland)

In conversation with Sr. M. Emmanuela Ghioldi,
Mutumba (Burundi)

Sr. M. Emmanuela Ghioldi from Switzerland has been living in Burundi, Central Africa, for almost 25 years. On the way to a conversation with her we meet three women. They are interested to hear from the sister from Africa. Sister Emmanuela is a nurse and director of the Mutumba Health Centre in Burundi. Every year about 20,000 people are treated in the hospital and in the outpatient ward. Over 600 babies are born. About 5,000 children are vaccinated, men and women are examined for Aids, etc. Sr. Emmanuela has experienced a lot. – “Don’t you feel homesick for Switzerland?” ask the women. Spontaneously she says: “No, if you are needed, homesickness goes away”. The three women accept this from her and reply: “Yes, one can see that you enjoy your job!”

I ask Sr. Emmanuela what gives her special joy and fulfillment in Burundi. “If you can help the poor, support them and if the sick become healthy again and radiate a new joy of life”. The demands of the Ministry of Health make it difficult for her. Much must be put down in writing. And then Sr. Emmanuela begins to talk about her experiences:

Eric, 19 years old:

He was shot in 2015 during the riots in the country and has been paraplegic ever since. A woman who has three children herself takes care of him. Now he has been in the hospital for a long time. Sr. Emmanuela looks after him. He has many open wounds from sitting in a wheelchair. It takes time and patience until these are closed again. “And when the time comes”, Sr. Emmanuela’s eyes shine, “we will rent a little house for Eric. There he can run a small shop on his own until he can pay the rent himself. He is looking forward to it!”

Philotée, 5 years:

She was hospitalized for severe burns. Slowly they heal and Philotée is glad that it is so. The family cannot pay for treatment by Sr. Emmanuela. The mother is poor and grateful that she and her other child are fed during the hospital stay of Philotée.

Révérien, 7 years old:

“An intelligent and happy guy (except in the photo!)”, says Sr. Emmanuela. He came to the hospital with an abscess on his leg – unfortunately too late. Since he is poor, the parents could not pay for care. The bone is already infected. The nurses send him to a doctor in town. He wants to operate on it, but it costs money. Sadly, Révérien returns: “It’s too expensive – I have to remain a cripple!” He doesn’t know yet that Sr. Emmanuela has already decided to pay for his operation.