Rental Values.

Maybe because we want too much, but the average Australian now has difficulty in buying a home. The cost is high, and many rent all their lives.

A relative of ours went out to the hospital where we worked at no cost to the hospital or government except that they were to provide housing. He stayed for about 3 years working during the day in the hospital area as a general, very handy, handyman. He taught a lot of evenings and weekends in a local church run vocational school. So rental was free but I wonder how much it would have gone for on the market as a rental property? I’ll show you a few pictures to put in a brochure. The young local graduated doctors refused to live in it. Could you blame them?

The entrance
Going inside
The lounge room
The toilet
The kitchen

There were pretty good views nearby.

A panoramic view from the hotel where official hospital visitors stayed.
The left hand lake as seen in the photo above now viewed standing outside his back door! You could increase the rental for the view! Lake Abaya is 60X20 km at its longest and widest points.

As I said above he stayed for several years and in his spare time and at personal cost did an enormous amount of work on it as part of his gift to the work. When it was finished and he was thinking of leaving, he was invited to leave soon. They wanted the renewed house for visiting lecturers.

(In praise of him he also started a tax free fund for a building for the locally run vocational school. It is now up and looking good!). His reward is in the satisfaction of a job well done. His thanks will ultimately come from above the clouds.

Dominic Cartier

Pictures or Words?

Already some people have indicated their gladness because I put a marker across my posts if I’m going to show a few medically mild photographs. We all have different backgrounds but I’ve been thinking a bit lately about this issue. I wonder what people do when watching a news presentation about rioting or some natural disaster or catastrophic event and a nasty scene comes on. Do they immediately turn them off? Is it possible or wise to hide from these terrible realities?

Thinking again, I wonder if more damage is done by what enters the mind via the eyes or through the ears. Reports of the political discussions about the very abnormal sexual behaviour being accommodated, or the legal destruction of life, both at its beginning and its end, entering the mind by reading or hearing, in my thinking, immunises minds against truth. I’ve read of high school kids being expelled for insisting that there are only 2 sexes. I personally think the authorities should be expelled.

Some may explain me away as a psycho-pathological religious nut. But it is they who are forsaking science for emotive who-ha. Please don’t think that I’m totally naive.

I had a young trainee Orthodox priest come to me with his penis halfway severed through because he, as a normal young man, was having difficulties balancing normal human reactions to the monasteries insistence on celibacy. He was trying to cut off his problem.

I’ve had to deal with a pre teenage child brought up as a girl but with strong desires to be male. On examination he had testicles but a grossly deformed penis, and no female organs. I won’t show you the pictures, which I have.

I’ve had to deal with a young man who often had meals with us, who as Orthodox got a Muslim girl pregnant. He was too terrified to tell his father so he used me as a listening ear. I said if you want an abortion you’re talking to the wrong person. He replied that neither he nor the girl wanted that. They had obviously discussed it. We had good talks, but in the end I said he had to talk to his father but that I would go with him. I had discovered that he was the illegitimate son of his father, but had been brought up with the family’s other children by the father’s wife and treated as one with the other kids some older, some younger than him. 

The father booted him out of the house and stated he never wanted to see him again. We cared for him until the ‘mother’ persuaded his father to take him back some weeks later. 

The girl was not prepared to meet me, but the young man and I had input with her. She, too, was unprepared to talk with her family. He could have remained quiet but she had an expanding reason to do something. So while her father was away she spoke to her mother who demanded that she have an abortion. The mother explained that her father would kill her if he ever found out that she was pregnant and particularly to an Orthodox boy. Eventually she was, very tearfully, dragged off to the local American run abortion clinic and the child’s life terminated.

Am I being judgemental in discussing these things? I guess the answer in some ways is ‘yes’. Are there many things with which I disagree? Celibacy should be chosen not forced; a decent look at the child could have seen testicles and no vagina; he explained that he had erections but although everything became hard nothing stood up except for an intense C-shaped thing; intecourse runs the risk of pregnancy – so although not uninformed the pair were stupid. I would say that intercourse is intended to be within marriage but I recognize that is an unpopular concept these days. However, the knowledge of pregnancy prevention is well known and easily obtained; I can’t understand the parents behaviour on either side. Am I judgemental? Maybe, but I sought to help without verbalized criticism to anyone except for the young man, who was like a son to me. Certainly I didn’t reject him.

I loved treating kids. Under the line are some of my ‘kids’. I challenge you to look at them and see them as real people! You will see some dressings but no open wounds.

Continue reading “Pictures or Words?”

Who deserves or wants praise.

Getting old, if nothing else gives you time to think. Someone very generously nominated me for an Australian medal, and justifiable or not, it was granted to me. Twice I’ve been nominated as Australian of the Year, but I didn’t by a million miles deserve it and didn’t get it. Perhaps what I cherish most is a simple piece of paper which my medical students gave me when I was retiring.

So what am I really writing about?

We had the chance to listen in on zoom to a funeral this week. The funeral of an old lady who died at 96 in an old folks home, well cared for but at the end separated from her family because of the Covid precautions, except for daily visits by her husband. She did not get the disease. She had written a book about her experiences, which I had enjoyed, but the funeral service was a great reminder. Her husband outshone her in the eyes of the world in which they lived, or so it seemed to me. But as I listened to the service, heard the eulogies and then watched the slide show, I couldn’t help thinking that she deserved an AM much more than I do. As a child she only had an education up to grade three, but then as a young adult went on to become a triple certificated nurse. Became a nurse in the back blocks of Ethiopia, raised a family of four and still managed to achieve what I mention below. There are now tens of thousands of women emancipated and brought into real liberated life, in the Omo Valley region of Southern Ethiopia because of her work amongst women in the churches which were founded through the work of her husband and others. You could almost envisage a halo hovering above her coffin. She was a great lady.

Or I remember bringing a young down-country teenager who had never played a musical instrument, nor ever even seen a piano, into a room where a lady was playing beautifully. He listened in amazement, and when she left he went and sat down at the piano and played with the notes. Minutes later he was playing the tunes of the local songs he knew from his countryside background. Amazing – to me, who occasionally while singing accidently hits the correct note! What talent. I remember a visiting doctor friend saying that he wondered how many young geniuses were lying with bare bottoms up to the sun just watching a few animals.

Or now we have a young man (at least 25 years younger than me) living with us so that my wife and I can remain living on our little farm. He’s very naughty because he does lots of things that he doesn’t have the pieces of paper which the government want tending to confuse them for ability. He fences, builds roads, adds a patio, builds a small kitchen and replaces cracked walls inserting windows to bring light into a darkened area, puts in electrical points, answers all my questions that I need answered to keep my computer working, and many other things. But no one employs him because all of his Tertiary degrees (4) are seen as impractical. They are linguistic and theological and not seen as practical. His wife left him, so some denominations have taken away his licence to preach; others are so liberal that he cannot sign their bases of belief.

Among my slide sorting I have come across two pieces of paper which give me more joy than the several accolades which I have been given. I share them with you.

The undersigned were all final year medical students, who asked me in addition to teaching them medicine to give them some Bible teaching. You may be able to understand why sometimes I found their English a bit difficult.

They are more important than this…

There were a number of expatriates, mainly from India and the Philippines, but I was the only white person in the department of health and there were only two of us on staff in the University. Arba Mintch University had 39,000 students in 2018. The hierarchy of the University were very gracious to me but the words of a child patient and of 5 students mean more to me. I’m not ungrateful for the several go away functions and the gold medal, but a patient’s or a pupil’s thanks is worth so much more.

Dominic Cartier

Living in Another Culture

I can’t vouch for the absolute truth of all of this, but a lot of people escaped from the Crusade wars in what is the Israel area of today, via a slightly circuitous route through Ethiopia. The evidence offered to support this ‘theory’ is twofold. Firstly, St George, the patron saint of England, is held in very high esteem in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Interestingly he is supposed to have died eight times and risen from the dead seven times. I don’t know of any scientific proof of this. Secondly there are many Tudor roses carved into the walls of the stone churches in the north. Many of the fleeing Crusaders, it is suggested, helped out in carving out these magnificent structures.

I suspect that some of these fleeing Crusaders tried to teach the Ethiopians some basic English words and mathematical terms. But I guess they either weren’t very good teachers or time has dimmed the past scholastic abilities. They remember the word ‘chin’ but now use it for the ‘thigh’ as we call the upper part of the lower limb. They remember the word ‘feet’ but have transposed the word to the other end of the body, and use it for the face. I’m pretty sure that they taught them also the other parts of the face, they almost got ‘eye’ correct and say ‘eyne’. They all know what their mouth is for but forgot the word for nose. This is where their maths lessons came into play. (I suspect some of the English may have been cockneys) so they named the nose ‘arfincha’ because it is an ‘alf an inch’ above the mouth. Sounds reasonable, but I’m not absolutely sure of the truth of it.

I did have a man whose lover bit off a large part of his nose, I guess that is maybe why we usually make love after a meal, so that people aren’t hungry. It was a 3 stage procedure to repair his nose. I’ve put a couple of pictures below the line. I also have a picture of a lower lip bitten off by a hungry lady. But I’ll save that for another day.

Continue reading “Living in Another Culture”

How Big is Australia Really?

I’m proud to be an Australian but love the country of Ethiopia where I worked for many years. Maybe wrongly, but I have often thought that many people think of Ethiopia as a small insignificant African country. And, possibly again wrongly, I have felt that some Australian professional people have felt themselves superior to those working in these ‘backward countries’. I guess this sort of thinking sprang into my mind again when I was watching an Indian movie last night. How can India produce films as good as Hollywood? Well the one I watched last night was better (different) than many I see from the USA. Maybe because they have 1.4 billion people from whom to choose good actors? But let’s not go too far down that road.

Ethiopia is a small African country. It is about sixty percent of the size of Queensland, or about 4 times as big as Victoria. It has a population four times that of Australia. If you want to compare its history with Australia’s, it is much older. Well, if we accept ‘Lucy’ as being one of the first human being, then it is older than our Original Australian’s history, and much much older than white Australia. Their ruling dynasty which ended with the murder of Haile Selassie in 1975 dated back to the time of King Solomon in Israel. Solomon died over 3,000 years ago. Then why is it backward? I would offend Ethiopians by asking that for they are very, and in many ways justifiably, proud of their country and people. Certainly they are progressing much more rapidly than the West did!

It has spectacular beauty; said to have massive gold and oil deposits; heights extend from 125 metres below sea level to 4,550 metres; there are enough rivers that all its electricity is hydro-produced.

But I really started to write about tertiary education. In 1968 when we arrived in Addis there was one University with 1,000 students. Now there are 30 Universities plus 61 other recognized private places with Higher Education standards.

According to my Mr Google – our University in North Queensland (JCU) has 17,500 students. Of the two Universities, where I mainly taught, Jimma University has 45,000, and Arba Mintch has 34,000. When we went to Ethiopia there were 300 doctors in Ethiopia and only 13 were Ethiopians. When I went to Arba Mintch in 2011 there were there 20 medical students per year, and when I left in 2016 there were 170+/year. In that same year, country wide, they graduated 3,000 young doctors. They are paid so little that many as soon as the government permits them they leave the country for richer paying fields – often to other African countries.

The last graduation I attended for doctor, architecture and Urban Planning graduates.

Maybe life was never meant to be fair, but a little more fairness would be nice.

Dominic Cartier