Starting a Tanzanian Life

18 06 2010

Habari! Almost a week has passed since we began our 24-hour-long journey to Moshi, Tanzania. As we made our way out of the airport, groggy and time-confused, we were met by our trusty and cheerful driver, Carol, who exclaimed with a grin, “here, we drive on the wrong side of the road!” With a good laugh and an exchange of handshakes, we were off!

Our first two days were spent in Moshi, a prosperous city sitting just at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro.  We drank “Africafe” coffee in the cool, dewy morning, ate mangoes and toast, and headed out to visit KCMC (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre), one of the largest and most well-known hospitals in Tanzania. First on the to-do list was to finally meet our on-the-ground advisor, Abdon, face to face. He filled us in on some logistics, gave us a tour of the hospital, and introduced us to several of the coordinators. After running a few essential errands, we shared lunch at Jacob’s Well, a small restaurant within the medical center, with a fellow Dukie who is here for his third year at Duke med.

On the afternoon of our second full day, we left Moshi to travel to the village of Mwika Uuwo, our main location for the summer, and where we are now. Mwika Uuwo is a very small and close-knit community in the mountains, about a one-hour drive from Moshi. We are staying with Mama Nancy, her family, and two students from Germany who have been here since August! It has been nothing but wonderful. Mama Nancy is so sweet and hospitable, her children are a delight, and the German students always have funny stories to tell about their experiences here.

Yesterday was Monday, and was our first day at the Mwika Uuwo dispensary, a KCMC partner, located right in the center of the community. We met with the daktari (doctor), who gave us a thorough tour of the dispensary and introduced us to the staff. The dispensary is smaller than we had imagined—two doctors and less than ten other staff members. But small is nice. We are all very excited to get to know everyone at the dispensary as we progress with our project.

After the tour, it was time to get down to business. The doctor talked to us about the big issues in the area. Malaria is a big concern, but is something easily prevented by knowledge of its mode of transmission and signs of infection. Thus Tammy, Austin and I are hoping to make small info cards that we can hand out everywhere. The doctor also stressed how disorganized the medical records are and how impossible it is to find anything when you need it. So it looks like we will be able to carry out our plans to implement a better system of record-keeping and record organization. Other needs the doctor expressed that we hope to fulfill are to make a partition in one of the exam rooms for more patient privacy, and to install a ramp to the dispensary entrance. Currently the dispensary has wheelchairs that were donated, but no use for them for lack of ramps.

Everything is coming along and getting started! We are so excited for the summer ahead of us. But for now, it is time for sleep, as we are catching the dala dala (bus) into Moshi at 7:00am tomorrow!

Badaye! (Until later)

-Wendy Lin




One response

18 06 2010

Yay for trip blogs and nice peeps!! i just noticed the little smiley face in the bottom left of this screen. cooool X)

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