Archive for October, 2009

Uncommon Economic Indicator: Moving Help

Posted on October 25, 2009, by Hanna Ingber, under Uncategorized.

I am moving out of my apartment in Brooklyn next Saturday, and I posted a note on Craiglist asking for help loading boxes and furniture into a u-Haul. Two hours, two people, $30 each. Within minutes, the responses started pouring in. Thirty-eight responses so far. As always with Craigslist, they are colorful.  Here is a selection:

hi, my name is Ro, me and my friend can help loed up your truck. we are two big guys. i a 6′3″ an 230, he is 6′4″ and 260. my number is xxx-xxx xxxx.

Can help name is Lou-xxx-xxx-xxxx call me interested??????

HEY HANNA…HOW ARE YOU !!   I JUST WANT TO LET YOU KNOW THAT THE GOING RATE IS $25.00 TO $30.00 AN HOUR FOR MOVING HELPERS.  $15.00 AN HOUR IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH….UNLESS YOU SWALLOW!  I AM HERE TO HELP YOU…LET ME KNOW WHERE & WHEN TO SHOW UP.  SEE YOU SOON !!

Good Afternoon,

My name is Dxxxx Txxxxx, I am replying to your job posting on Craigslist. I have 5 years of experience in moving and I am available anytime during the weekend. I have no problem lifting heavy things, I am very efficient with time and also I am able to do my work without you having to explain twice. I work pretty fast and in tight spaces, I am very hard working young man and I have references. I live in Coney Island only a few stops from the Q train, it’s only a forty minute train ride to your location and I am anytime on Saturday. My number is xxx xxx xxxx have a wonderful evening.

Greetings,

Attached below is my resume in consideration for the mover/labor position
advertised on craigslist.I currently work for a moving company called
the super movers & I’m looking to make some extra money, I am very
interested in the position because I have strong labor and
organizational skills.

I am also friendly, reliable and punctual. Please free to contact me at
xxx xxx xxxx at your earliest convenience to learn more about my
background.

Many Thanks,

This one is a bit depressing. Had I seen it first, I might have gone with it. It also had a pumpkin background:

hey me and friend well do this job real quick we live close to prospect heights please back this is hard times really need the extra cash thanks u god bless have a nice safe day

Another had a flower photo image and then a resume attached, complete with skill sets and references.

Eric provided seven references, including this one:

To whom it may concern,

Eric xxxx is a cheerful, friendly, reliable person who I met when he helped me move my belongings. I quickly established a rapport with Eric and a trusted to load my belongings into a truck unsupervised when I was called away to other responsibilities. He arrived on time and worked thoughtfully, steadily and cheerfully despite it being a blazing hot summer day.

I would emphatically recommend Eric for moving and other positions.

Sincerely,

Dr. xxx

I went with this one. He included a photo of himself (showing he is young and able) and three photos of his van (which I don’t need but appreciate the effort):

Hello: I am also in crown heights area and I am will and able to help out. I am very reliable and professional. I also have a large ford E150 van in case you need a mover. Otherwise still willing to lend labor only.

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Mothers of Ethiopia Part III: Battling Pregnancy Complications

Posted on October 1, 2009, by Hanna Ingber, under Health, International, women.

This has been cross-posted on the HuffPost. Go there to see the photo essay.

Editor’s note: Hanna Ingber Win, the Huffington Post’s World Editor, was recently invited by the UN Population Fund to visit its maternal health programs in Ethiopia, which has one of the world’s worst health care systems. In the U.S., a woman has a 1 in 4,800 chance of dying from complications due to pregnancy or childbirth in her lifetime. In Ethiopia, a woman has a 1 in 27 chance of dying.

This is the third of a five-part series on what she learned on her trip.

MEKELLE, Ethiopia — Dima Yehea’s two-year-old son has large brown eyes and a sweet, carefree smile. He sits on his mother’s lap wearing only an old T-shirt. Dima, dressed in a loose hospital gown, looks at me with intent, studious eyes. Her baby turns towards her, grabs her left breast with both hands and nurses for a few minutes. As the baby focuses on his meal, Dima concentrates on me, a Westerner in Ethiopia.

Dima also wears a big smile on her face. Her hair has recently been styled, pulled back in tight braids, in preparation for her departure from the hospital and trip home to her rural village.

A young woman living in a country with one of the world’s worst health care systems, Dima has experienced needless, preventable pain and tragedy. Yet she appears happy to share her story. To an American, it is a story of the poor state of women’s health care in Ethiopia. To Dima, it is a story of triumph and hope.

Dima was 15 when her family prepared a wedding ceremony and married her off to a man she had never before met. Soon after getting married, her husband forced himself on her.

“Did you understand what he was doing?” I ask her.

Dima’s smile slips away. She slowly shakes her head. “I was a kid,” she says through a translator. “I didn’t know what was happening.”

The sex was painful, but her husband did not stop.

Dima soon became pregnant with her first child. She was living in a rural village called Late about 145 kilometers from Mekelle, the largest city in northern Ethiopia.

Like 94 percent of Ethiopian women, Dima went into labor at home without access to a skilled birthing attendant. Too young and undeveloped to be giving birth, Dima’s body could not handle the labor. The baby’s head pushed down on her pelvic bone, not yet wide enough to let the baby pass naturally, for 48 hours.

Dima eventually gave birth, but the baby had died during the protracted labor. Plus, the prolonged pressure caused the tissue between her bladder and vagina to die. A hole called an obstetric fistula formed.

Obstetric fistulas are practically unheard of in developed countries because women give birth at a later age and therefore have more developed bodies - plus, even more importantly, they have access to medical care. If a woman has a complication during pregnancy, like about 15 percent of women do, she can have a Cesarean section.

Dima had no such luck.

In Ethiopia, where such surgery is rarely an option in the rural areas where women like Dima live, obstetric fistulas plague about 100,000 women, says Karen Beattie, the project director for Fistula Care, a project managed by EngenderHealth and funded by USAID. The exact number of women living with fistulas — like the exact maternal mortality rate — remains unknown due to lack of good population-based statistics, she says.

About 2 million women in the developing world currently live with untreated fistulas, according to the UN Population Fund.

“The whole problem lies in detection of difficult labor and appropriate referral to emergency obstetric care,” says Dr. Melaku Abriha, an obstetrician and gynecologist who runs the Mekelle branch of the Hamlin Fistula Hospital.

The hospital’s facility in Addis Ababa opened in 1974 and has treated more than 32,000 women, according to public relations officer Feven Haddis. The Mekelle branch opened in February 2006 and has operated on around 600 women from rural villages surrounding Mekelle. Ninety-one percent of the surgeries have been successful, Dr. Melaku says.

Dima’s fistula caused her to leak urine at all times. The uncontrollable discharge left her uncomfortable and smelly.

Still just a teenager, Dima became so embarrassed of herself that she stopped seeing her friends.

“I felt like they were talking about me behind my back,” she tells me.

Dima told her husband that she did not want to have sex with him. She felt unhealthy and uncomfortable. But he insisted. After having a second child, the little boy now sitting on her lap, Dima began refusing to have sex. Her husband divorced her and married another woman. Dima moved back home with her parents.

Her baby stops nursing and turns to watch me. Dima’s bare breast rests on top of her gown. She explains that she stayed at her parents’ house, without any contact with the outside world, until a local non-governmental organization visited her village and found her. The group, Relief Society of Tigray, helps women who have developed fistulas. They brought Dima to the hospital in July, and Dr. Melaku performed surgery on her to repair the hole between her uterus and bladder. The surgery cost about US$400 and was paid for by the hospital.

The surgery was successful, and Dima will return to her village the day after I meet with her.

I ask Dima how she feels now, and the joy returns to her face. Her eyes open wide, and she starts talking fast and loud. “I am happy!” she says, pounding her chest with her clenched fist. “I will start to talk with the neighbors and community. I will look for a new job, and I will start a new life.”

She says that she cannot return to farming because after living with a fistula for six years and undergoing surgery, she does not think her body will be strong enough for the intensive work. In general, women who undergo fistula surgery can return to farming once they have fully healed, says Karen Beattie of Fistula Care.

Dima also no longer has a husband to help her with the farming. Instead, she says, letting out a laugh, she will become a businesswoman.

“My plan is now to change my life,” she says. “I will do business and earn some money for me and my baby.”

It is unlikely that the number of fistula cases in Ethiopia is decreasing. However, more places like the Hamlin Fistula Hospital are opening and serving more women, says Beattie. Furthermore, increased attention by the international aid community over the past 10 years on the issue of fistulas has led to greater awareness about the problem of both this medical condition and women’s maternal health in general.

Despite the gains, only about a third of the 9,000 fistula cases that occur in Ethiopia each year get treated, according to the UN Population Fund.

“Fistula is a marker for what is happening for maternal health more generally,” Beattie says. “It has shined a light on the need for more access to emergency obstetric care.”

Tomorrow: Visiting a rural health post in Ethiopia

Read the first installment on one woman’s journey to find a doctor in rural Ethiopia, and the second about girls fleeing child marriage.

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