Notes From Tanzania 2018 (part 3)

Dear Friends,

In my last newsletter I told you that TNSP graduate Tika and I traveled from Kasulu to Dodoma. After an eleven hour bus ride we arrived. Tika continued on the next day to her home in the Morogoro area.

Dodoma was established as the capital of Tanzania by Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania, following independence in 1961. Until very recently, the country’s legislature met in Dodoma, while essentially all administrative offices were in Dar es Salaam. The current president, John Magufuli, recently made the decision to move all of the Tanzania’s ministries and related functions to Dodoma. In the last several weeks he requested that various countries move their embassies to Dodoma and, as encouragement, offered a five-acre parcel of land to each country that is willing to do so.

My primary activity on this visit in Dodoma was to discuss a possible collaboration between St. John’s University School of Nursing and a nursing program at a US university. The primary focus of these discussions were logistical in nature, related to a student exchange program.

I visited the Mirembe School of Nursing for the purpose of meeting with the three nursing students that we currently sponsor there. The Mirembe School of Nursing is located on the grounds of Mirembe Hospital which is Tanzania’s national psychiatric hospital. In my last newsletter I mentioned that I visited the home of Juvines (a young woman currently supported by TNSP) and that her family had gifted us a bag of pineapples and avocados. Juvines is one of the three nursing students at Mirembe Hospital. I gave her the bag of fruit and asked her to share it with the other students.

Also, some of our past graduates are attending school or work in Dodoma. Tegemea, who recently obtained a BSN degree at St. John’s University, arranged for all of us to have dinner. It was a nice reunion for our past graduates. Also joining us was Aselina Mlinga, who is studying for a MS degree at the U. of Dodoma. She pricipitated discussion among students and graduates about the supervision of students in their clinical practice, which is the topic of her thesis.

Photo: My Dodoma dinner guests – a wonderful group of ladies

Next, I travelled to Mvumi Mission, which is approximately forty miles south of Dodoma and is only accessible via poorly maintained dirt roads. Located at Mvumi Mission is a hospital and a training facility that includes a nursing school. The Mvumi School of Nursing offers a diploma program (three years) leading to a joint Registered Nurse and Registered Midwife designation and a Certificate Program which overlaps with the first two years of the diploma program.

TNSP was contacted late in 2017 by Angela Savage, who teaches at the Mvumi School. Angela asked if we would considering sponsoring financially needy students at Mvumi. After a lengthy email exchange I added Mvumi Mission to my itinerary. Angela and her husband Brian have lived in Tanzania approximately twenty years and are from the UK. Angela fetched me in Dodoma and got me comfortable at a recently build guesthouse.

The area around Mvumi is generally very flat and interrupted by groupings of hills. It is very dry and the wet season is rather unpredictable, which can cause crop loss and food insufficiency. There is a great deal of poverty. Most people engage in farming on a small plots – one to two acres. In contrast to the general dryness, there are heavy rains that cause very wide flows of water on the plain, leading to erosion. Roads become impassable. One day I went for a walk with Angela and her husband. A few photos follow:

Photo: Temporary lake resulting from recent rains
Photo: Walking in the Mvumi area with Angela and husband Brian
Photo: In front of a Boabab tree

Traveling in Tanzania you see quite a few old Boabab trees in spite of the deforestation. Deforestation is the result of tremendous population growth of around 2.9% per year and the need for firewood and charcoal for cooking. The boabab tree is not considered usable for either timber or firewood. Here is a link to some interesting Boabab tree facts.

Photo: Common to see young boys managing a small herd of grazing cattle

Part of my time in Mvumi was spent interviewing students. After discussion with the school staff and learning about students’ backgrounds, I asked seven students to complete applications and subsequently spoke to each of the students one-on-one. As a result, we now sponsor seven students at Mvumi and plan to return next year.

Photo: Mvumi sponsored students

Following the student selection process, we arranged for a dinner with the students at the guesthouse where I stayed. The students were appreciative. Following dinner, Angela played her guitar and led the students in some songs. Since the internet reception was excellent, I called Linda on Skype and she able to meet and greet each of the students individually and welcome them to the TNSP sponsorship program.

Photo: Dinner with sponsored students and Angela

A few day later, I was ready to return to Dodoma for one day and then travel to Mbeya and Tukuyu. The morning of my return to Dodoma, I was was given a warm goodbye by the school staff and the sponsored students. The students presented me with a few gifts, which I modeled with the assistance of Principal Juliana Meela.

Photo: Leaving Mvumi – Saying good bye to staff and sponsored students

As always, thank you for your interest and support of our sponsored students.



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