19 July 2015
Once we arrived in Moshi, Allie and I wandered around the city for bit until we found an internet café. We hung out there for awhile, and slowly, more and more people from our program arrived to join us. It felt like it had been much longer than four days since we had left the school. For the rest of the day, we found a hostel to stay in, went out to eat where I got to order an American cheeseburger (the first cheese I’ve had since arriving in Tanzania), and shopped around looking at all of the street vendors in Moshi. Later that night, we met a couple of Australian guys who were also staying in our hostel and were traveling around Africa for the summer. They had some pretty cool safari stories to tell. We ended up going to a karaoke bar for the rest of the night, which was very fun. Even though none of us got up to sing on stage, we had a good time singing along.
On Sunday, we headed to Machame Falls with everyone. It started off cold and rainy in the morning, and many of us were not expecting the muddy hike we had in store. It took about two hours to hike to the waterfall, which included a very precarious set of steep, slippery stairs, but it was worth it. Even though the water was freezing cold, we were all very excited to get in. After hiking for another very long time to our lunch spot, we had a delicious meal, including pineapple mango juice, beans, beef, rice, bananas, avocado, and watermelon, among other things. When we had all had our fill, we drove the bus over to another smaller waterfall. This one had a couple of tall ledges where you could jump off into the water, and a few people were even brave enough to try it. At the end of our journey, I was covered in mud.
25/26 July 2015
On Monday, we went back to work at the hospital. We worked with Charles the whole day and finally got to start fixing things. The first thing we fixed was an operating lamp that kept flickering on and off. We also fixed a dry sterilizer in the maternity ward, and started working on an oxygen concentrator. That proved to be a lot more difficult to figure out than the other machines. However, oxygen concentrators are vital machines in most developing hospitals, since it can be hard to obtain oxygen tanks. The boy who was using it could not be without an oxygen supply for more than five minutes. After much testing, we left it to look at the next day and found a spare for the boy to use in the meantime.
The rest of the week was a mixture of meeting with doctors, repairing machines, and doing maintenance on the hospital autoclaves. It has been difficult to adjust to the much more relaxed pace here. Most people run on “African time”, which means if you’re anytime within an hour late, you’re still on time. Allie and I have spent a fair amount of time waiting around for people, but at least we haven’t felt pressured or stressed to finish a project quickly. All of the hospital faculty have been very welcoming and friendly; a few have even invited us to dinner. It has been very satisfying getting a couple home cooked meals again. On Thursday evening, we visited Dr. Kiwelu’s house and met his daughter and niece. It was quite an interesting experience. For music, he turned on a rotating disco ball player, while also watching the news at the same time. He also kept giving us beers while we were waiting for the food to be cooked. We arrived around 4:30, but we didn’t end up eating dinner until around 9, and by then, Allie and I were starving. We devoured the chicken and chips the doctor’s niece had made, which was delicious compared to the boiled eggs and potatoes we had been making all week.
Friday was a pretty relaxing day as far as work was concerned. We did a test run on the autoclave we had completely cleaned out the day before. While we waited for that, we talked with Charles more. He was excited to tell us that President Obama was visiting Kenya for a few days. It seemed like a very big ordeal. We also did a couple needs assessment interviews with two of the doctors there on Friday. We talked with them about the equipment needs of the hospital, if they were being met, and how they could be if they were not. Many hospitals from other countries donate their old equipment to Tanzanian hospitals without knowing if they need it or can use it.
We got off of work around 3 and went to catch a “Noah” to Moshi, which is a public van. They always stuff the vans as much as possible, generally with four people per row, and I ended up next to a man who was very talkative but did not know any English whatsoever. My Swahili skills were definitely put to the test, and we had a kind of broken conversation for the rest of the ride to Moshi. We were planning to stay with our friends who were working at a hospital just outside of Moshi for the night and go to a “Bongo flavor” concert, which is popular native Tanzanian music. All of us arrived at the venue about an hour after doors had opened, and there was a beauty pageant “Miss Tanzania” going on. As we waited, the minutes turned into hours, and we wondered if the singer would ever come out on stage. Frustrated and tired, about half of us called a taxi to go home at 2:45 AM, while the rest of the group waited it out. We were told the next morning that he started performing around 3, of course.
The next day, many of us went into Moshi to shop around a bit, and I also met with Pastor Elias Lemas for lunch, a pastor my mom and I had met the last time we were in Tanzania. It was very nice to chat with him a bit about his family and church. He also told me that he will be visiting Wisconsin in October, and I am excited to see him again soon.
Allie and I went back to Mkuu that evening, and when we got off the Noah van, we saw that Dr. Kiwelu was in town and waving us over. He insisted that we come over for dinner at his house again, so we went straight there, and prepared for a later night than we were expecting. It was a very similar night as Thursday, and we were both exhausted by the time we got home around 10:30 PM.
The next morning was an unusual opportunity to sleep in! We had a very relaxing day, and started off by getting some food at the market. In the afternoon, we were surprised by getting a couple new housemates from England. They’re two medical students doing a practical here at Huruma Hospital for four weeks. We showed them around the hospital campus and the town a bit, and they both seem very friendly. It’s nice to meet people that share a similar culture to us, and now we won’t be as lonely in the house!
30 July 2015
This week we continued working with Charles on various equipment throughout the hospital. One night he took us out to eat “kiti moto” for dinner which directly translates to “hot seat” or pork. The way it got the name was because people of a certain religion, Islam I believe, are not supposed to eat pork, so if they were ever caught eating it they would be in the hot seat! It was quite delicious, but I don’t know if I will ever be able to successfully maneuver through all the fat, bone, and cartilage they leave in the dish when they serve meals here. After dinner, we hung out at a local shop and Charles showed us many of the various snacks and drinks people get in Tanzania such as “Tangawizi” super gingery ginger ale, “Tusker” his favorite beer, “Zen” pineapple gin, and some very crunchy snacks that I cannot remember the name of.
On Thursday, we started organizing the hospital’s stockpile of broken equipment, which had been sitting outside for days in the wind and rain. We stacked an endless amount of outdated computers and circuit boards. We did find a few promising items to take a look at, including an operating lamp, some wheelchairs, exam benches, and a stationary bike that we had put a new seat and pedals on the day before.
Friday was another cleaning day. We wiped down all of the wheelchairs and benches we had found in the scrap equipment pile and put new tires on one of the wheelchairs. I’m looking forward to finding places in the hospital where they can use the things we’ve refurbished.
4 August 2015
This weekend a group of us went to Lake Chala! We all met in Moshi and took a bus from there. We arrived at the campsite at around 1:00 PM. Lisa and I decided to pitch a tent together and soon realized that neither of us had much expertise in that area. After everyone’s tents were up, we had spaghetti bolognese prepared by the cook that came with us on the trip. We ate the fanciest camping meals I’d ever had that weekend. When we were done eating, our guide showed us how to get to the lakefront. It was a bit of a hike, but it was very worth it in the end. The water was warm, and the lake was beautiful. Some people kayaked across the lake to Kenya, since the lake is split between the two countries. The rest of us swam around and enjoyed the water, which was quite warm.
The hike back up from the lake was a bit more work than the way down. We hung out at the viewpoint bar that has a view over the lake while we waited for dinner to be ready. Also, Collyn was celebrating his 21st birthday, and we had red wine for the occasion, plus batter fried fish for dinner. We all wanted to watch the sun rise early the next morning, so most of us went to bed kind of early. The next morning we all got up at 6 AM and walked over to an unfinished house overlooking the lake to watch the sun rise. However, it was too cloudy to see much of it, so it was a little disappointing. The rest of the day was filled with hiking, swimming, kayaking, and more good food before we packed everything up to go back to our hospitals. It was a great weekend to see everyone.