Aira Hospital is located in a remote corner of Western Ethiopia and in proximity to the South Sudanese border. The health clinic was originally set up by German missionaries in 1928 but today it is owned by the powerful Ethiopian Mekane Yesus Church who runs it under the motto "Serving The Whole Person".
The Danish surgeon Dr. Erik Erichsen has dedicated much of his life to serve the poverty stricken communities in the area. For years he was the only surgeon at the hospital, and he often had to work 24 hours shifts with no room for rest. Today he has managed to educate local health workers and, as a result, the hospital is considered to be one of the best outside the private sector in Ethiopia.
People come from afar to get treatment or help with complicated deliveries, and the hospital is now able to cover 95% of its annual budget through patient fees. Still, there is no budget for equipment or recruitment, and the hospital struggles to keep its head above financially.
I met Dr. Erik Erichsen by coincidence at a cafe in Addis Ababa one morning back in 2009, when I was in Ethiopia to shoot a commissioned story about street children for an NGO. His personal story immediately captivated me.
In February 2012 I went back to Ethiopia for two weeks carrying one 5D Mark II body and two lenses - 35mm and 85mm respectively. I wanted to visit Aira Hospital to find out what made Dr. Erik Erichsen stick there, but I soon realized that there was an even more important story to be told.
My web documentary called "Serving The Whole Person" was published in the third issue of Inquire Magazine for Ipad, along with an in-depth article and an interview.
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