Friday, May 31, 2013

Health Care Volunteering in Tanzania - May 31, 2013

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” –Walt Disney
We spent the morning at the clinic with Elton. It was slow at first – not too many patients but then they slowly started coming in. The most memorable patient was a girl of about 15, who had to be carried in. She was obviously in a lot of pain. She was conscious but in a lot of pain. I was worried right away – I thought this could be very serious. Of course my mind goes to the worst possible scenarios – appendicitis, meningitis. She had abdominal pain and the mother said there was a history of headache, falling down, and convulsions. Elton was very calm – he took her history and then quickly prescribed IV fluids, medications, and a few blood tests. I was thinking about the thousands of dollars worth of medical tests that would have been done for the same case in the U.S. About an hour later we went to see her and she was quietly sleeping. Hopefully it is nothing too serious and she continues to improve. After that, it was quiet at the clinic so we went for a quick walk around town. 

After lunch we made some posters on hand washing to hang at the primary school. Then we continued our hand-washing lesson with standard 7. Overall, a good day- now we are looking forward to the weekend!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Health Care Project in Tanzania - May 30

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”

We started our morning off by going to the Lutheran kindergarten to teach the children the numbers 1-10 in English. They did very well saying the numbers in order 1-10, but it was challenging for them to count backward 10 to 1. We had a good laugh when Edward asked if the kids remembered our names and a few seemed very certain and shouted “mzungu!” We also helped out at the CTC, HIV clinic. Carrie spent time pulling patient files and seeing patients with the doctors. I helped count pills and hand out medication. It was a pretty busy day at the clinic! In the afternoon we went to the primary school to continue teaching about the importance of hand washing. The older kids didn’t seem as excited as the younger ones, but I think the information was still valuable and useful!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tanzania Health Care Volunteering - May 29th, 2013

"There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist or accept responsibility for changing them." -Dr. Denis Waitley

This morning we went to the clinic. Elton had a new book on nutritional counseling along with measuring tapes and a method of checking nutritional status by measuring the upper arm. Good news - Taylor and I both have good nutrition. Then we saw a patient who had just arrived from Dar es Salaam. Unfortunately, he had left Dar before being treated for malaria and TB which he was both positive for. Elton made the decision to send him to Iringa for treatment since they don't initiate TB treatment here in Pommern. After that we tried to assist in organizing the charts for the patients coming for the HIV clinic tomorrow. After some language barrier issues and a lot of confusion on all sides we finally found a system that worked and I think (I'm still not totally sure) we were all on the same page. We put hundreds of charts in numerical order - hopefully correctly so they can be found easily tomorrow! Then, we did some painting on the outside of the mission house. I think it's safe to say we are not professional painters!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Volunteer Vacation, May 28, Pommern Tanzania

"Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful."
- Joshua J. Marine

Today we spent the majority of the morning at the baby clinic in Kitowo. There were a lot of mothers and their babies that came to listen to health education regarding nutrition and family planning. The nurses weighed each baby and Carrie and I recorded the weights. We noticed many babies were not gaining weight as quickly as they should be and also some were losing weight. It didn't seem like there were any interventions or follow up when this occurred. The mothers were just sent on their way. Hopefully the mothers will adhere to the nutrition education that was provided at the beginning. 

After lunch, we went to the market in Pommern with Mohamed. The people at the market were selling clothes, shoes, food, household items, everything! It was really neat to see all the goods people were selling. In the afternoon we went to the primary school to teach about hand washing. Some of the children spent time fixing the tippy tap again! Overall, it seemed to be a very productive day!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Volunteering in Tanzania - May 27th, 2013

“Remember that happiness is a way of travel not a destination.” –Roy Goodman
Another full day of work. We talked about different medications with Regina in the morning. At first – no sick students, but once her door was open – they came. A headache, neck ache, stomach ache. Even the teachers come to the matron with their complaints. We did the best we could to apply a dressing to a wound. 

Next on to the clinic. We saw a variety of patients – an older man definitely in congestive heart failure, a mom in labor – either with a big baby or possibly twins. Both of these two were waiting to go to the hospital in Iringa. Also a baby who came in the day before possibly with pneumonia but was doing better and a woman who came in complaining of falling down. For this woman Patricia took some blood and we were able to watch as she ran some tests in her little lab. One of the tests was for HIV – it came back positive. The first thing I thought about was the lack of safety precautions – the syringe of blood Patricia was holding with no gloves and the needle she had just recapped – these things are just different in the U.S. Of course, Patricia was being as safe as possible in the situation – working with the equipment she has (like Edward says surviving). And then I thought about this woman – how her life is going to change with this diagnosis. Taylor and I then had a good discussion with Patricia about screening for HIV (for example, during pregnancy and before marriage), counseling, education and difficult situations such as when one partner in a marriage tests positive and the other doesn’t. There are no easy answers to these questions. 

After that we helped with a few vaccinations for babies and then it was time for lunch. After lunch – primary school – standard 5 for a lesson in handwashing. The best part was watching the students work together to fix the tippy tap, a contraption some genius came up with – amazing because it is so simple and yet I would have never thought of it!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Weekend in Tanzania

“Do your little bit of good where you are. It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” –Desmond Tutu

We spent this weekend at Ruaha Hilltop Lodge and went on a safari at Ruaha National Park. We stayed in a cottage and had meals at the lodge. We went out for the game drive at 8:00am Saturday and we returned before dark. We saw many impalas, giraffes, elephants, zebras, different types of birds, hippos, crocodiles, monkeys, and two lions. We were a little closer than I liked to the lions! Our guide was very informative about the different animals. At the lodge we were able to see out above the national park – the views were beautiful! We had a fun, relaxing weekend, but it will be nice to get back into our routine here in Pommern!