Goodbye Tanzania, Hello Massachusetts!
Linda and I arrived home, late in the evening of March, 13th. I would like to give you a quick version of our activities following our last letter.
The Tukuyu area has many large and small tea plantations. While there, we took a guided tour of a large tea plantation, where we learned about the harvesting and processing of tea. All the while, I must confess, I really wanted a mug of black coffee.
Since this was Linda’s first visit to Tukuyu, we also visited the natural bridge over the Kiriwa River. Ellen—the retired principal of the Tukuyu Nursing School—drove us there in her car.
Early the next morning I watched a group of second-year students prepare to leave for their community fieldwork. The student teams travel to their designated villages in a school vehicle, with their foam mattresses on top, while students and their personal belongings are stuffed inside. Teams of eight students live in a village for four weeks. As a team, they are responsible for preparing a report on the village. Individually, the students focus on one or two families with health issues, assess the problems and assist in defining solutions. Each student also prepares an individual report. Aside from the serious aspects of their village stay, the students tend to have a wonderful time with each other – the environment is similar to home for most of them.
We calculated that 19 students could be stuffed into the vehicle, in addition to the driver.
That evening Linda and I had a wonderful dinner of roasted pork and cooked bananas at a local place with Nolasca (current principal), Ellen (retired principal), and her husband Sam.
The following day we travelled to Mbeya to visit the nursing school, located at the Mbeya referral hospital (one of four in the country). We met with one of the tutors, by the wonderful name of Happiness. Subsequently, we returned to Moshi, in Northern Tanzania, by air.
After returning to Moshi, we visited one of TNSPs graduates, Paschalina Jacob. Paschalina graduated in 2011 and works at Kilema Hospital, a small Catholic hospital located in Kilema in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. Near the hospital is a large stone church dating back to the German colonial period.
We had a very pleasant visit with Paschalina. She expressed several times her appreciation for the sponsorship that supported her nursing studies. She told us that her earnings allow her to financially assist her parents with small items, sponsor two secondary school students, and start building a small house for her parents.
During the last week I had to deal with a dental emergency— fortunately we were able to resolve this (which is another story). Due to my dental work, we were forced to compress our last few activities in Moshi into the last day. Prior to our travel to Tukuyu, we had selected a group of first-year students for interview. At the same time, we wanted to visit students in the village, who were doing their community field work. So, Linda and Edith (our in-country student coordinator) spent the day interviewing students, while I went with school staff to visit students in the villages.
The interview process with the students is a daylong event. We explain why we want to talk to them, the specifics of the sponsorship program, and ask the students to complete an application form. We review the applications and then interview the individual students. Sponsorship decisions are made based on all available information (including assessments by school staff of financial need and academic ability). Our focus is on financial need and a student’s ability to complete the study program. At the end of the interview process the students were told that they would be sponsored and they responded with great joy – shouting, clapping, dancing and hugging everyone in sight. The sponsorship of these ten students was made possible thanks to a grant from Dining for Women.
In the meantime, I travelled with three of the school tutors to the villages where the second year students were located for their community field work. At each of two locations there were three teams of students. Each of the teams reported their progress and responded to questions.
Here are two videos about making ugali (one short, one long). Note from the short video how ugali is eaten by rolling it into a ball with the fingers.
We also made several visits in the community, some very sad. The most interesting was our visit with a woman who was a traditional healer and a traditional midwife.
The traditional healer/midwife was very willing to talk to the student team and show her facility, which was very basic and not especially clean. She is a “registered” traditional midwife. The intent of the registration is to provide a limited level of training on a periodic basis. The hope is that the traditional midwife will direct births to an appropriate facility and assist with the birth only in an emergency situation. However, based on our discussion, it appears that she provides assistance on a regular basis with many births.
Our last photo in this letter is of a widow who suffers from Parkinson’s disease. Her son cares for her and fixes her meals.
Linda and I are happy to be home again – back in our familiar surroundings. The travel back home was an uneventful (but long) trip.
We want to thank all of you for your interest and support. Please feel free to provide us with your responses, thoughts, or questions in the comment section below.
Tony and Linda