Courageous Ätti

The Swiss in me wants to apologise in advance for what I am about to write, but thankfully the non-Swiss in me is shouting the apologetic Noemi powerfully down.

Ätti, my grandfather, died this month 78 years old. In Sierra Leone people tell me that this is a very old age and it is a miracle that he lived that long. In Switzerland people look at me with a sorry face and ask if he had a special sickness or why he died so relatively young.


In Sierra Leone, it is seen as a miracle if someone goes into medical care and survives. Everything is done for the patient, where “everything” can mean some painkillers and lots of prayers. In Switzerland, you have to make an active decision to stop the hospitals and doctors to keep you alive – where “alive” can mean hanging on a drip and on thousand electric machines. My grandfather was tired of the drips and the medicines and the doctors, not necessarily of life. Ätti has been living a very down to earth life. He was an honest and hard worker, didn’t live beyond his needs and enjoyed what has been given him. He produced the *hands down* best honey on earth, had a critical mind and a very impressive nearly 60-year long marriage with Müetti. Learning how to deal with his own death was not part of his life curriculum, however, in the end he had the courage to refuse all medical treatment, despite the fear of the unknown nature of death.

Courage is needed in Switzerland to refuse medical treatment, courage is needed in Sierra Leone to accept medical treatment. As written some weeks ago in my latest post (, health care is so bad, that every treatment, every surgery has the potential to kill a patient. It is like russian roulette – you never know which treatment might be your bullet. Yes, this is not the nicest Christmas message, but a very necessary one – and I do think, it is urgent enough to be listened to at any time of the year. The inequalities in this world are crying out to heaven for a response – be it in health care, living conditions or opportunities. Balancing out inequalities does not only mean that we need to get rid of poverty in this world, but also that we, the rich 5% (yes, Switzerland belongs to those), need to share more. We are too rich and others are too poor. Think about it.

And Ätti: may you rest in peace. We miss you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s