My first week in Tarime
So, Joe Tempone, Jane Burbury and I arrived in Mwanza, Tanzania, after many flights, too much bad airplane food, little sleep, 2 almost missed flights, and many time zone changes. Miraculously, all our luggage arrived safely in Mwanza. We were met at the airport with a very joyful reunion with Didee, Leanne, Dickson, Dickson’s cousin Daniel, and our new driver Abdallah. It was amazing to be back in Tanzania, everything was so familiar and I almost felt like I’d never been away.
It is so hot here, and in the afternoons we often have storms. My Swahili is coming flooding back and I am learning all I can from my little Swahili book and from everyone I meet. I am determined to be semi-fluent by the time I leave the country.
The hospital is much the same, although now we have running water, in a town where not even the richest have running water in their houses, and we have a back-up generator for when the power goes out, which is very frequently. My first day in the hospital we had a woman come in in shock, miscarrying and bleeding heavily and we had to do an urgent D and C on her, which Dr Winani got me to perform. It was all quite exciting, but I could see the shock on Joe and Jane’s faces about the way such a sick patient was treated – they didn’t even take her pulse or blood pressure.
Today I was involved with a woman in prolonged labour, who thankfully we managed to deliver vaginally after a long labour. There is no option for instrumental deliveries here, and it takes 45 minutes to get the theatre ready. So, we ruptured her membranes and I started an oxytocinon drip. Both her and the baby are doing surprisingly well.
Both Joe and I have been seeing patients in clinic and on ward rounds, and while I am slowly getting back to the swing of things Joe is on a steep learning curve but is amazing – Dr Winani is stoked to have him and is learning a lot from him.
We are staying in a house that Dr Winani built specially for us, which is a lovely big place with 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a big living space. However, although it looks good, half the time there is no electricity and so we sit around by candlelight and have to wash in the dark. Also, there is no running water to the house, so our housekeeper Eliza carries buckets of water in for us each morning for us to use for cold water bucket showers and to flush the toilets and do the washing up. We have a great crew – Didee, Leanne, Joe, Jane and I. The house is full of laughter, cups of tea, African friends and conversation. We have a little stove, and last night Joe and I cooked our first African meal, attempting to replicate dishes we have tried. It worked very well, and we are going to have Dr Winani and his wife Miriam over for dinner one night to see what they think. We have also promised Omari and his wife Mama Asha that we will cook for them one night when we are there – we may even try to have an Italian night!!
Jane is going to run some education sessions with the nursing staff in the hospital about sanitation and basic patient care, and Joe and I are doing what we can to help Dr Winani but also to train the local health care staff and make some improvement to the hospital.
Every day children come to us asking for sponsorship, and it is so difficult not to be able to help them all. There are so many tragic stories and so many people living in poverty and I really wish I could help them all but it is just not possible. We do what we can, supplying them with school uniforms, stationary and clothes.
This weekend we are hopefully going on safari to the Serengeti, which Dr Winani has kindly organised for us. It should be amazing.
As the locals say, ‘hakuna matata!’