Shashamane, fondly known as “the Shash,” is a city to the south east of Addis. We traveled there for a site visit for Shashamane Hospital, one of Ethiopia’s LEAD Hospitals within the Ethiopian Hospital Alliance for Quality (EHAQ). However, the experience we had was much different than expected.
I will forever remember Shashamane as the “Little Jamaica” of Ethiopia – a large billboard of Bob Marley greets you as you enter the town. The town had a tropical feel, with palm trees lining the roads, and the hospital seemed more like the grounds of a small jungle than a medical facility. The facility did not look top class from the outside – buildings were dispersed among the grass and trees, connected by rocky dirt roads. But physical appearance was definitely not the best way to judge this center.
In fact, the hospital was amazing. The CEO Hedato and his Medical Director demonstrated that they were well prepared and very proud of all the work done to make this a high quality hospital. The department heads were all helpful and quite informed on their areas of expertise, which allowed us to collect valuable “best practices,” our primary objective on the trip. We left the hospital pleasantly surprised by the excellent work that was done and with the satisfaction of accomplishing our task.
Yet, even more enjoyable than the hospital was the Jamaican restaurant that Zahirah (GHLI program director) and I frequented in our time there. There we met Brother Desai, a Jamaican emigrant who told us stories about how his family arrived in Ethiopia more than 30 years ago, quoting Bob Marley lyrics to make his points. We also spoke to his son, who described how they used to fight off hyenas and how hard they worked to build their restaurant. Later, we bartered with Brother Desai’s wife for some hand-woven Jamaican items. When thinking of Ethiopia, Shahamane is one place I will never forget.