Habari from the Tanzania 2012 team:
We are excitedly making final preparations for another Gundersen Lutheran team trip to Nyakato Medical Center located just outside of Mwanza, Tanzania. Our team has faithfully been meeting for orientation sessions to learn about the history, people and culture of Tanzania; their medical needs and concerns and to work diligently on learning Swahili. While we are preparing here, the medical staff in Nyakato has been busy gathering names of patients with surgical needs; once we arrive we will unpack our numerous suitcases loaded with medical and surgical supplies and start working in partnership with the Nyakato staff to serve the beautiful Tanzanian people. 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 will be a blessing to those we work with and serve knowing that we will be richly blessed from the opportunity to participate on this adventure.
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 anticipate leaving from the La Crosse airport on Friday, March 16th and will arrive in Arusha, Tanzania late on Saturday, March 17th. One of our team members, Kevin Duffy, (who is missing from the team photo), will meet us at the Kilimanjaro airport. He flew ahead of the team so that he could climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Eastern Africa. We plan to spend Sunday adjusting to the time change and experience the culture of Arusha with a city tour including a meal at Shanga–a coffee plantation and craft center staffed by local handicapped Tanzanians. On Monday (March 19th) we will fly to Mwanza, strap our luggage on the tops of our vehicles and drive the 20-30 minutes to the more rural area of Nyakato where we will work for the next 8 days. Our team will once again have a surgical focus, but we will care for other patients as time allows including completing physicals on children at the Starehe Children’s Home on the weekend.
Our goal is to update this blog with daily reviews from the various team members (including an account by Kevin of his adventures) however, if you have followed our team blogs the past 2 years you know that Internet access and electricity is unreliable and therefore, daily transmissions are not always possible. Our daughter will transfer any comments you leave on the blog to us via email; it is a highlight of our day to share those comments and words of encouragement and humor with the team.
In an effort to learn Swahili numerals we have been taking ‘roll call’ using Swahili numbers. Hopefully, by the time we return we will have mastered counting as well as many other words and phrases. Let me introduce you to our team:
1. MOJA – Cheryl Vieth
2. MBILI – Kathy Flatoff, RN
3. TATU – Sue Baker, CRNA
4. NNE – Kristy Schilling, MD
5. TANO – Kevin Duffy
6. SITA – Eric Brekke, MD
7. SABA – Lori Schams, RN
8. NANE – Keith Baker
9. TISA – Rosie Nelson, RN
10. KUMI – Hannah Brekke
11. KUMI NA MOJA – Sandy Brekke, RN
12. KUMI NA MBILI – Sally Hillesland, RN
13. KUMI NA TATU – Jeff Hillesland, MD
We are ready —- let the adventure begin. . . . .
Sally H for 2012 team