Life in Tanzania is winding down for me. It is hard to believe that in less than two days I will be heading back to the States with many of new friends, memories and experiences. Today sums up my Tanzania experience. It started out by waking up at 6:20 so Bob and I could go meet some kids we met on Friday. These boys befriended us while we were at the pub, they were playing with their “rag ball” in the streets. After talking with them, it turns out none of them had never owned their own soccer ball. So we told them we would bring them one today. So Bob and I strolled through town, which is a story in itself, and waited for any of the kids to show. After 25 minutes or so of waiting, we decided we had better leave. As we were strolling our way back through the busy streets, the young man’s face LIT UP . . . ”Mr, I didn’t think you would come!” So we traded him a soccer ball for a picture and an African memory I will never forget.
Then breakfast and off to work. Today we had a handful of young ones. All went well, but it was not easy sitting in the OR waiting for, then listening to the musical cry of a young child out of anesthesia. The day was pretty uneventful, and I have to give our group of nurses big kudos for handling child after screaming child. I know we all love these children, but screaming ones are a different story.
We finished the night with a performance by a group of Masai guards chanting and dancing, followed by dinner at “Lucy’s.” Now I sit here with a full belly, heavy eyes, and a mind full of images that I won’t soon forget. If only I could stretch this visit out a while longer.
– Jeff S
This is a late entry. On Saturday, I needed a certain instrument. It was not available and there were no other good substitutes. After knowing the need of this instrument and with several days’ notice, the instrument appeared! One of the clinic’s employees manufactured the instrument. It worked perfectly and the operation was a success. In follow up, the patient is doing fine and healing well. Leave it to the clinic personnel and their ingenuity to get through difficult situations.
Today, we had the opportunity to care for 9 patients in the OR.
The new update is the “blue monkey.” This beanie baby is light blue and slightly fuzzy. He has a big smile, piercing eyes, and a tight curly tail. The monkey has traveled far, from not only America to Tanzania, but also from within our group members. This stuffy is the “booby prize” that is awarded to the person who bumbles next. He has been passed on to successive team members for the length of our stay in Nyakato Clinic. Thus far, he has graced the presence of most of the team members. Only a handful of us remain “monkeyless.” Stay tuned for the adventures of the blue monkey!
– Phillip Y
Over the weekend, we medically screened approximately 150 patients, all of whom were children or staff of Starehe Children’s Home, funded by a church in Canada. Team members were assigned to different screening stations which included registration, vision check, height,weight and vitals, lab and physical exam. None of the children had any baseline medical data. The children at the orphanage were cheerful and fun-loving for the most part, well taken care of physically, behaviorally and emotionally. It is one of the premier orphanages in the area. The teacher at Starehe and I worked together at the registration table, with intermittent help from Bob. The teacher was a talkative, friendly and animated young woman from Germany named Teenie, who chatted and flitted about nearly incessantly. She was fond of the children at the orphanage and they were evidently fond of her. Most of the children at Starehe have lived there since initial placement, sometime between the ages of 2 – 3. African families typically keep their infants and toddlers until they can no longer breast feed them, at which point they become a financial burden to the family. This is the point they are placed for adoption. To adopt a Tanzanian child, the country requires that prospective adoptive parents live in Tanzania for 2-3 years. As a result, few children are adopted out of Starehe or out of Tanzania for that matter. There are a number of developmentally disabled children who reside at Starehe. It is not known what will happen to them once they are too old to remain at Starehe. There are no systems in place in the country to meet this need, and it is of concern to Teenie. The children at Starehe are placed in the community for school. They all attend one of two private schools. The concern for placing girls in community schools is the risk of sexual abuse by teaching staff, who will propose a trade of sex for grades. The concern for placing boys in the community is the tolerance of physical forms of punishment for the boys. Teenie has worked at Starehe for 10 years. She knew the 130 residents of Starehe by name and together we identified concerns for screening by the medical team. Teenie has little confidence in medical evaluation or treatment of children at the orphanage in the Mwanza community. For example, she identified a girl who was placed on phenobarbital because she was tired during the day and falling asleep. Teenie described what was likely a history of night terrors. Teenie also described a young boy who arrived with machete scars on his back. He is approximately 4 years old and overly compliant with staff and peers. There are no psychotherapy options for him in the context of likely PTSD. She also raised concern about the inpatient psychiatric hospital in the community. She described that patients are sedated with drugs such as Thorazine and Stellazine and chained to their beds. The inpatient psychiatric unit is in the cellar of the hospital building. More diagnostics, treatment and advocacy work to be done in mental health!
– Denyse OD