My visit to Tanzania this year is a very busy five weeks– I am traveling more than during prior visits. At the end of my last letter I mentioned that I had arrived in Dodoma. Dodoma is the capital of Tanzania and is centrally located within the country. The Parliament meets in Dodoma, though most administrative functions occur in Dar es Salaam, on the Indian Ocean coast. My purpose in going to Dodoma was to visit the Mirembe School of Nursing, which is located on the grounds of Mirembe Hospital, Tanzania’s only psychiatric hospital. The hospital has approximately 600 beds and the extensive grounds include a residential village.
The Mirembe School of Nursing is a three-year diploma program with 125 students. I met with the school staff to discuss our sponsorship program and worked closely with Naomi Chamhene, the class coordinator for the first-year student group. Following review of the files, I interviewed and accepted four students for sponsorship.
A bit about the students:
- Mary comes from a family of nine girls. The family earns money by selling grocery items in a small shop. Her siblings were taken out of school so that the family could pay her school fees.
- Ales comes from a family of six children. The family raises food on a small farm for consumption. The surplus is sold in order to buy clothing and pay school fees.
- Florencia comes from a family of seven children. Her parents are separated and the mother is a peasant farmer on one acre.
- Dorice comes from a family of seven children. Her parents are peasant farmers on two acres.
Large families are very common in Tanzania, particularly in the rural areas. The Tanzanian population is still growing at an annual rate in excess of 2%. The Tanzania government places emphasis on family planning education and the nursing students learn about family planning as part of their curriculum.
While in Dodoma I was very happy to meet old friends and make new friends. Among the old friends were Tegemea and Mpelo. We sponsored Tegemea’s nursing studies at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (“KCMC”) and she graduated in 2011. Tegemea got married shortly after graduation and worked as a registered nurse at the regional hospital. Her most recent area of responsibility was quality assurance. She recently enrolled at St. John University for a BS degree in nursing. Mpelo is a tutor at KCMC who is currently enrolled at the University of Dodoma for an MS in psychiatric nursing. The U. of Dodoma is spread out over 15,000 acres with the buildings for each of the colleges spread at a significant distance. Mpelo gave me a tour of the campus. The architecture design of the buildings was very interesting.
I also enjoyed meeting Rebecca Munger and Naomi Chamhene. Rebecca is a Peace Corps volunteer who is teaching midwifery at the Merembe School of Nursing. I had dinner with these four ladies several evenings and enjoyed listening to them “talk shop” about nursing.
I will now include a map of Tanzania and describe my travel route. Having travelled from Moshi to Dodoma, I next travelled to Tukuyu.
The Tukuyu School of Nursing is located next to the Rungwe District Hospital and has 140 students. We currently sponsor 14 students at this particular schooll. Over the course of my visit here I discussed current first year students with the school staff, reviewed student files and, following personal interviews with students, made the decision to sponsor nine students . These students will be going into their second year of studies in April, when their sponsorship will commence.
I hosted dinner for the students (all 23) on my last evening. The dinner consisted of chicken and chips. I took the opportunity to gave academic awards to two students and provided door prizes (medical dictionaries, English dictionaries and flash drives). Then each of the students was allowed to select an item from an assortment of scarves and jewelry items. The students also provided me with a gift to take home. A few photos follow:
During my stay in Tukuyu I worked with two of the sponsored students, Zuena and Tikakoi, to produce a PowerPoint presentation focused on secondary school students. The object was to introduce the students to nursing as a career, the minimum requirements for secondary education and how to apply to nursing schools. It was fun working with the two of them. They will present the PowerPoint presentation during their semester break at a secondary school in Morogoro.
Next, I travelled to Mbeya and visited the nursing school located at the Mbeya regional hospital. We have been corresponding with the principal of the school for over a year about our sponsorship program. Based on discussion with the principal, I interviewed two students and agreed to sponsor their studies. Both students come from peasant families with very limited cash income.
From Mbeya I travelled by bus to Morogoro for the purpose of visiting the Sega School for Girls. The Sega School provides a secondary education for vulnerable young women. Career guidance is generally missing in Tanzania at the secondary level. Sega does have a career guidance function on their campus and Zuena and Tikakoi will make their PP presentation at this school about a career in nursing. I found my one day visit to the school interesting – in addition to donations, the school generates income through operating an extensive egg laying operation.
So, after a very short stay in Morogoro I heading back to the bus stand and travelled back to Moshi (about 9 hours). If you look at the map below, you can see the giant circular loop: Moshi to Dodoma to Tukuyu (through Mbeya) to Mbeya to Morogoro and back to Moshi:
I now have one week left of my five week visit to Tanzania. My last week in Tanzania will be the subject of my next letter.