How Idris was Born
By: Hellen Tesfamariam
February 12, 2004
The story I am about to relate brings tears to my eyes because
I cannot believe this type of cruelty exists in this world. Bombs and guns intended
for the enemy soldier could kill innocent villagers residing in the surrounding
areas. That, during wars, is often described as "collateral damage". This story
is not about "collateral damage", this is about the pure inhumanity of man towards
his neighbor! Little Idris, with a big scar accross his forhead will be telling
this story all his life. For those who have access to Eri-TV and saw yesterdays
program, you will know what I'm talking about. For those who don't, brace yourselves
as I relate a level of cruelty unheard of in the civilized world.
We've all heard of the Ethiopian Government's frequent incursions into Eritrean
territories, dismantling of local administrations there and setting up their
own - a sort of brute-force approch of creating "facts-on-the-grond". One of
the most talked about is their incursions into Adi Murug, Eritrea, several times
since 1991, but most recently in 1997. What we don't often hear about is what
happens to the people that live there. What does it mean when you wake up one
morning and life as you knew it has changed? Where can your cattle graze? Where
can you farm? Where do you go to school? Where is the new government office?
Where is the new clinic?
In Eritrean villages like Adi Murug, for normal childbirths, a mid-wife in the
village helps with the delivery. If there are any complications, there are clinics
within reach from which experienced medical personnel can intervene. Well, this
was the norm before the Tigrayans took over. Idris' mother was in intense labor
for three days when a new Tigrayan (Northern Ethiopian) Administration forcefully
took over Adi Murug in 1997. Idris' mother was suffering and in need of medical
attention - little Idris' forhead was protruding, leaving him stuck in the birth
canal. The clinic, which was staffed with capable medical personnel was a walking
distance away, but not within the territories forcefully taken over by the Tigrayans.
The family members and the mid-wife were unable to convince the new administration
to let them allow the medical personnel to reach Idris' mother. The Eritreans
at the clinic warned that both the mother and child's life was in danger. The
Tigrayans insisted that since she was in Tigrayan territory the Eritrean medical
personnel had no rights to attend to her. Idris' mother suffered and eventually
lost consiousness from pain and fatigue. With Idris stuck and a mother unable
to act, the mid-wife was left with a life and death situation all around. Idris,
she assumed was a goner and the least she could do was try to help save the
mother's life. She had no medical instruments, no vacuum suction, no forceps
to help pull little Idris out. The brave mid-wife used the only tools she had
available - her teeth. Yes, the mid-wife bit into Idris' forhead, puncturing
a wound deep enough to expose his little skull. Then, having something to grasp
on to, she dug her fingers into his open wound and pulled the little baby out.
My heart goes out to the brave mid-wife who had to make such a difficult decision
and do the unthinkable. By the grace of God, both mother and child survived.
Idris is a beautiful miracle child that survived despite the cruel inhumanity
of an invading neighbor.
Stories like Idris' need to be told - they are the human consequences of ill-defined
borders. As long as the border is not demarcated, Eritreans run the risk of
future Adi-Murug type incursions and with it all the cruelty and indifference