The project for pediatric primary care and community health improvement that the Pablo Horstmann Foundation carries out in Meki (Ethiopia) is one of the winners of the Spanish Unicef Committee awards, which will be delivered on Tuesday in Madrid. This year, the awards, which recognize the commitment of people or institutions to achieve real changes in the life of children, will also be given to the educator Francesco Tonucci — for his life and professional career in defending the rights of children — and the national Radio Program of Spain, five continents, for their efforts to disseminate the vulnerability situation of the youngest people around the world.
Ana Sendagorta, president of the Horstmann Foundation, has been behind years of cooperation as a ophthalmologist surgeon in Kenya. "Although it was not the first time that a reality was so tremendous as that of Meki, it did not cease to amaze me. Getting out of our wellness bubble and confronting the context of a population struggling every day and not even daring to dream of a better future is always hard. It seemed incredible to me that even in 2011 there were so many people without access to medical care, "he recalls.
In Ethiopia, there are three physicians for 100,000 inhabitants. In Meki, not one for more than 170,000 people. The nearest hospital is located in Adama, at 78 km, but for the most serious cases it is necessary to reach Gambo or Addis Ababa, almost three hours drive. Since 2012, the children's population of Meki can be served free of charge at the Let children have health pediatric Clinic of the Horstmann Foundation.
"Before we trading to try to alleviate the lack of health centers in the Kenyan regions of Turkana and Lamu, but in 2011 the Salesian missionaries present in Meki informed us that the small orphanage in the province of Oromia needed help to get out Go ahead, "explains Sendagorta. "We find a very troubling childhood situation. Almost half of the families had a foster orphan. Schooling rates were very low and malnutrition was a very common problem. "
The Horstmann Foundation Clinic in Meki, Ethiopia, attended more than 20,000 children in 2018
The clinic, which was attended by more than 20,000 children in 2018, is mainly dealing with malnutrition cases, in a country where 52% of children under five are moderately or severely malnourished, according to UNICEF data from 2014. "There are also other cases of diseases related to poverty and lack of hygiene, as well as mother-to-child HIV infections," adds the President of the Foundation.
Next July, the clinic will expand its facilities to enhance prenatal and post-partum care — in a region where 80% of women give birth in their homes — as well as TB-and HIV-centered units, among other specialties.
In the category communicates, the prize has fallen in the program Five continents Radio 5 (RNE). The jury — made up of several personalities from academia, the third sector and communication — has recognized "the solid trajectory of the programme, the informative treatment of children's issues, their approach from diversity and Commitment of the team of professionals in the promotion and defense of the rights of the Children ".
The program has been awarded a space for both topical and child-related issues (for example, the migratory flows of Central America or the impact on children of the earthquake in Indonesia) as well as subjects often forgotten by the media (such as Child soldiers in South Sudan or malnutrition in the Congo.
The five Continents programme has been awarded for providing space for topical issues related to children and often forgotten subjects by the media
"It's a very collective prize," says Maria Eulae, director of Five continents. "Every day we have a large team to develop current issues and others more thoroughly. As a public service program, we have space to address these issues. "
Eulae admits that it is especially impacted to have to count the "hardness of the daily life" of some situations that the minors face. "The cold they feel in the tents of the refugee camps, the fatigue of migrant caravans, the fear...", he enumerates. The journalist recognizes that sometimes the media tends to dramatize. "We stay in the figures, but we need to talk more with people, put a face to the data."
The third award is named after Joaquín Ruiz-Giménez, president of UNICEF Spain from 1988 to 2001, and is awarded on an individual basis to persons with a vital and professional career who stand out for their dedication to advancing the rights of children. This year he has relapsed to the Italian educator Francesco Tonucci.
For more than 50 years, the Thinker has devoted himself to the study of child behavior in the family, school and city areas, "always with a child's eyes," according to the jury.
"My proposals seem to me so common sense that they should not be considered revolutionary," says the pedagogue. "But, unfortunately, an international law is still needed for parents to want their children," he says, referring to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which will be 30 years from next November.
"In the field of education I propose that the capacities of each child be recognized, rather than demand the same results in the two subjects that are of interest to the school, i.e. language and mathematics," he adds.
Keeping a child's gaze, according to Tonucci, requires constant work to try to continue interpreting the world according to a child's point of view. But it seems that adults suffer from a disease that does not forget childhood and we repeat with our children the same mistakes of our parents. I try to recover, at least in part, this sensitivity by studying and listening. "