The Origins of Emenet

After 17 years in 2012 , I went back to Eritrea to visit my family. Being in the health care profession myself, I looked forward to visiting the Eritrean hospital. I visited the major hospitals in Asmara and I met several wonderful Eritrean doctors from different backgrounds. Some of the doctors were graduates of Addis Abeba University in Ethiopia. Others were educated abroad and returned to Eritrea to serve their communities or were graduates of Orota medical school in Asmara, Eritrea. Regardless of where they were trained, all of these doctors are smart knowledgeable, skillful, qualified, dedicated and incredibly professional. I was so impressed and very proud of them.

Unfortunately, these talented doctors’ care is compromised by unbelievably scarce medical supplies. Severe shortage of crucial medical supplies is hindering these wonderful doctors from providing the kind of care they would like to deliver, and quite frankly the kind of care the Eritrean people deserve. Having witnessed this firsthand, I decided that it is my responsibility to help.

As soon as I returned to Seattle, I talked to one of my closest friends Tzeghereda and shared my experiences in Eritrea with her. Within one week,Tzeghereda managed to find a non-profit organization that donates medical supplies to

hospitals in need. At first, our plan was to send supplies that the two of us could afford. However, after this organization offered us $1.2 million worth of medical supplies for just a transaction fee, it became clear to us that we need help to cover these shipping expenses. So we turned to my cousin Sam, my aunt Meaza, and her friend Abeba for assistance. They were very supportive and very helpful. Moreover, they introduced us to a critical part of our team; Medhane. Ever since we started working together, Medhane has become a huge asset and the driving force of this organization.

Board of Directors

President

Yordanos Kahsai, MD

Grant Writer & Media Relations

Bisu Asmerom

Treasurer

Abeba Abrha, RN

Auditor/Public Relations

Helen Kidane

Public Relations & Event Coordinator

Meaza Zehaie, RN

Public Relations

Jemal Yemane

Logistics & Promotion Manager

Medhane Sebhatu

Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening

Locally, EMENET organizes breast and cervical cancer screening services with the help of BCCHP. In the Greater Seattle Area, many Eritrean women, East African/immigrant, uninsured, and/or low-income women are not receiving the important health benefits that early cancer diagnosis can provide. Usually due to differences in values, health beliefs and behaviors, women of these exigent communities have lower rates of cancer screening as well as higher rates of late-stage cancer diseases than do women of other communities. EMENET believes that these factors should not hinder these women from acquiring much needed health care that could ultimately save their lives; so much so that EMENET decided to partner with the Breast, Cervical and Colon Health Program of King County (BCCHP) to introduce these women to low-cost or free regular access to cancer screenings.

Mainly, EMENET targets East African immigrant women for this program. Typically, these women are overwhelmed by the new lifestyle of the U.S. and struggle to take care of their families, resulting in the women’s diminished focus on health care. A majority of EMENET’s volunteers have cultural familiarity and language knowledge of the Eritrean as well as other East African people, which is instrumental in providing an effective outreach effort. The common challenges that are encountered by other organizations due to the unexpected differences in values, health beliefs and behaviors are overcomed by the familiarity of EMENET volunteers to these cultures. Through this cultural bridge,

EMENET establishes a bond based on familiarity and trust with these communities and this encourages them to make salubrious decisions regarding their health. In addition, the fear of the unknown that stems from ignorance can be abated by periodic education which EMENET plans to continue to provide. The lack of education and/or means is generally why East African/immigrant, uninsured, and/or low-income women do not adhere to cancer screenings; knowledge and easy access can help alleviate these problems. Thus, EMENET plans to deliver these services by organizing informative seminars, small group discussions, and providing mobile mammography through BCCHP in their own community centers.

In the end, EMENET has been successful in its efforts in approaching, informing and mobilizing the Eritrean women in the past and strive towards an even better outcome in the future. With the cultural bond and established trust EMENET has with these women, the team was able to reach individuals who otherwise would never have access to mammography. Comprehending the magnitude of which this program impacts these women, EMENET will continue to provide outreach programs that are relevant and pertinent to the East African community as well as all uninsured low-income women in the Greater Seattle Area.