“Our bags are packed; we’re ready to go…” Our Tanzania 2011 team is ready, and we are excited to begin this adventure together. Sunscreen, scrubs, malaria medications, immunizations, Beanie-babies and candy (pipi) for postop therapy, passports, hand sanitizer, supplies for surgery…. we trust we have it all.
We are thankful that you desire to join us via this post and would covet your prayers for safety, health, team unity and most of all that we accomplish our mission to serve the medical needs of these beautiful and special people.
For those of you that are interested, Tanzania is located on the eastern side of Africa and has only been an independent country since 1964 when Tanganyika and Zanzibar united after receiving autonomy from Great Britain. Despite many resources including gold, tanzanite, diamonds and thriving tourism which includes climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and wonderful safari tours, it remains one of the poorest countries in the world. We work in a small ‘suburb,’ Nyakato, located on the outskirts of Mwanza, the 2nd largest city in Tanzania and a major shipping city built on the south edge of Lake Victoria. Nyakato is a very impoverished rural area; most of our patients survive on $1/day or less and have no access to running water or electricity. But as we walk along their dirt roads and paths and share life with them we are richly rewarded with smiles and greetings and their joy that we care and are there.
We leave La Crosse on Friday, February 25th, and after a brief layover in Amsterdam will continue to Kilimanjaro International Airport. We will have spent approximately 20 hours of plane time and be 9000 miles from home by the time we reach Nyakato. We have such a great enthusiastic team and have spent evenings together learning about the history, culture, language and expectations of our team as well as a crash course on sterile technique and how to function as OR nurses. We have gathered hundreds of pounds of medical supplies including tote bags (many sewn by Rosie!), shoes and school supplies to share with orphanages and schools. Somehow we have managed to cram those hundreds of pounds into two suitcases each—actually, we bring very little personal items to make it work.
Our team will once again have a surgical focus, but we will care for other patients as time allows. On the weekend we have been asked to complete physicals on 130 children, aged 6 months—20 years that live at Starehe Children’s Home.
Our team consists of the following team members:
Kristy Schilling MD
Phil Yee MD
Sally Miner RN
Rosie Nelson RN
Shirley Newberry RN
Deb Rislow RN, CIO and Ops VP, Team 3
Robert Newberry—Winona State University professor
Denyse Olson-Dorff, Clinical Psychologist
Dennis Olson-Dorff RN
Bryce Dorff, Central HS student
Jeff Scheidt CRNA
Jeff Hillesland MD
Sally Hillesland RN
Here are some ‘pre-trip’ thoughts I would like to share from our team members.
- I am looking forward to seeing my old friend, Mary Ellen.
- Phil’s snoring?!?
- After significant orientation and training meetings and many hours of Internet research and study of the culture and environment, it is time to begin the expedition. Yet, as a first time participant the mission feels a bit surreal. Am I apprehensive? Absolutely! Are there a hundred different scenarios running through my imagination? Yes! But without a doubt I am looking forward to contributing what I can to this cause and learning so much in the process. Let’s go!
- I have anxiety related to contact with wild animals
- I wonder if the local docs were able to continue the “free-handed” circumcisions (taught last year)?
- I am anxious to share of myself, my time, talents and treasures…hoping this will not only touch me, but my entire family whom I have tried to get involved as much as possible.
- Looking forward to an exciting journey with new friends.
- I am thinking about how to come alongside the people of Tanzania and assist them in developing their community.
- Anxious about the electrical situation in the OR.
- I’m excited to see friendly and familiar Tanzanian faces.
- Looking forward to helping others and getting acquainted with medical practice and the Tanzania peoples.
- I am humbled at the prospect of the task as well as the opportunity.
- Dreading the LOOONG flight to Tanzania.
- I want to learn what they see as the needs of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and how we can support meeting those needs in Tanzania, medically and psychologically.
- Going to miss a steady supply of cold Diet Coke.
- My ideal is to leave behind the knowledge and skills that will have a positive impact to the future of the community and the Nyakato Health Centre through their eyes. To achieve that in my journey will be a significant accomplishment in my life.
- Minimal paperwork, maximal operating!!!
- I am optimistically petrified to be performing anesthesia in such a “primitive” setting.
- I think the week of working in Tanzania will have more of an impact on myself as opposed to having an impact on them.
- I am comforted by the supportive, compassionate team members I have had the opportunity to begin to know and will work with.
- I was exhausted after seeing 22 patients today in my clinic but looking forward to seeing 130 kids at the orphanage in two days.
- I’m looking forward to learn more about how to deliver excellent patient care with limited resources. The team at Nyakato does that extraordinarily well.
- The impact of visiting another culture—I feel we will all come back different and changed people than when we left—which should happen.
- I am looking forward to getting to know an entirely different nation, community, people, and also to share time and stories with 12 other people I work in the same buildings with and have grown to respect and admire.
- Thanks for the opportunity.
- I am looking forward to the challenges, ideas and fun of our multidisciplinary team from the medical center working in Africa, never being quite sure what is coming our way day-to-day or even moment-to-moment.
Again, thank you for joining us on this journey; pending Internet and electricity access we will attempt to keep this post-updated daily. An easy time change conversion is to subtract 3 hours from CST and switch the AM/PM status. (i.e. If La Crosse time is 12 noon – 3 hours = 9 am… convert to 9 pm and you have our Tanzanian time—9 hours ahead!)
Sally H for the team