The Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Book Review - Moving Mountains

Claire Bertschinger with Fanny Blake

Reviewer - Jean Bailey

This book highlights the work of nurses and others who work in some of the most dangerous and challenging situations in the world. Told through the words and first-hand experience of Claire Bertschinger the reader gets a glimpse of the lives of those whom she sought to care for in a number of countries (Ethiopia, South America, Afghanistan, Lebanon) during her career as a nurse, and describes the terrain she lived and worked in.

In particular it attempts to share with the reader the painful dilemmas she and her colleagues had to personally face daily during the famine in Ethiopia during 1984/5 when decisions had to be made about who would get the chance to live and those who would probably die. Through the graphic detail from her many letters to her family a picture of isolation, despair, anger and frustration comes through about the inadequacies of individuals to deal with massive human suffering when governments have turned their back on the people. Her return trip 20 years later came through as an opportunity to see the determination of people who have survived such tough and unimaginable times and the great respect and love they had for her in helping them to survive and move on.

It demonstrates the need for all professional people caught up in such circumstances to be politically astute and to know all the resources that might be available to them. The powerful role of the media in reporting tragedies comes through time and again. The support of a loving family was a huge strength to Claire during these stressful assignations and with whom she could recharge herself for the next one.

This story should be read as it shows professionalism, courage and sticking to one's principles are important in challenging situations alongside of camaraderie and humour.

Moving Mountains by Claire Bertschinger with Fanny Blake, published by Doubleday, London, 2005.
Hardbound, 304 pages illustrated.
ISBN: hardback 038565801X
Price: £14.99
ISBN: paperback 0385608969
Price £10.99

First Published in News File Winter 2005

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