Notes From Tanzania 2018 (part 4)
First, we would like to thank you for your continued support over the years. Thanks to your generous contributions, TNSP has supported 115 young women in completing their nursing and midwifery certification, in addition to sponsoring 27 current students.
In my last newsletter I told you about my visit to Dodoma and Mvumi. My next stops were Mbeya and Tukuyu. At the end of my bus trip to Mbeya, I decided to spend the night since I had not made a reservation and the hotel options in Tukuyu are limited.
The next morning, I walked to the referral hospital located not far from the hotel and visited the School of Nursing. I was met by the deputy principal, by the name of Happiness. She contacted the three sponsored students at the school. One of the students was working on the hospital floor, so I met with Ambonpile and Yasinta.
I recall when I met these ladies two years ago and interviewed them for sponsorship—both were so quiet and shy. Now they were chatty and very jovial. The vast majority of the students come from a very rural and impoverished peasant background. Yasinta particularly stood out to me two years ago. She is pictured below in a February 2016 photo (left) and a February 2018 photo (right).
I requested and obtained approval for the three students to travel to Tukuyu for a Saturday evening dinner with the larger group of students from Tukuyu and to stay for Saturday night. Then it was travel time again – for the relatively short trip from Mbeya to Tukuyu.
On arrival I checked into the hotel and walked to the school. In the afternoon I had a pleasant meeting with the ten sponsored students in Tukuyu. I had not met these students before so at first they were very quiet, not knowing what to expect from me. However, we did eventually have a very nice conversation.
I invited them to dinner and promised them their favorite fare, fried chicken and potato chips, which they rarely have. The common fare for students is ugali and beans. Ugali is a very thick paste made from white corn meal. The link also gives a description how to eat Ugali. I have done it but I must admit, I don’t have the skill or patience! Typical eating in the rural areas is done without fork and knife. For this reason the common practice is the washing of hands prior to eating. If I forget, typically someone will remind me!
So that brings me to the student dinner Saturday evening. Joining me for dinner were the thirteen students and Sara, a tutor at the Tukuyu School for Nursing.
This year I travelled very light and did not bring any of the small gifts for students that I had brought in past years. I did plan for special awards – an award for best academic performance and an award for best emails to the program. I should mention that, as a condition of the sponsorship, students are required to send TNSP a monthly email describing their progress and activities. All their emails are answered by Judy, a retired nurse practitioner. Some interesting conversation can take place with questions going both ways and some students are more consistent in emailing than others.
It turned out that two of the Tukuyu students, Kissa and Hadija, stood out with the same grade point average and that Kissa was also selected by Judy for the “best email” award. For each of the awards I printed a card with the student’s photo on the front and a congratulatory message, as well as a 10,000 shilling note (about $5). The photos below show Hadija (left photo) and Kissa (right photo) receiving their academic award:
The town of Tukuyu is located in what is called the Tanzania Highlands. Traveling from Mbeya to Tukuyu is primarily traveling uphill. As a result of the elevation, it has a cooler climate than most of Tanzania. It tends to receive more rain and I find it very pleasant. The evenings can be cool enough that pants and possibly a sweater may be necessary. Much tea is grown in the area. In addition, you can find a great deal of fruit (papayas and sweet bananas) and cooking bananas. There are many small farms (1-2 acres) for subsistence farming and some larger tea plantations.
On the Monday following the dinner, I went to the school. A practical examination of the first year students was scheduled. Students were required to demonstrate proficiency prior to being allowed on a hospital ward. After taking photos I traveled back to Mbeya and the next day traveled from Mbeya to Morogoro.
Thank you for your interest in the sponsorship of nursing students. I can assure you that these young ladies are very appreciative of your support!