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Wednesday, July 4, 2018


This is a very short video--1:47--of the processional from Sunday. It is worth your time! Be sure to have your sound up! Processional Video
Lunch staple, fish with rice, beans and Mchicha (like spinace/turnip greens)

Team at lunch

Restaurant where we've been eating lunch every day

Food has arrived!

More staples--chips mayai (eggs), miskaki (skewers) and more rice.

Washing hands before and after eating
Dr. John, Christina (Mazimbu anesthesiologist) and David with new cautery machine donated by team.

Stylin' in my Foster Grants!

I can see!

Happy 4th of July!

We are thinking of our families and friends this Independence Day, imagining what you are all doing to celebrate this holiday.

It is Wednesday morning in Tanzania and we have begun a very busy day.

Our last post was an update on our weekend. Since then the work at Mazimbu has continued and we do not leave the hospital until 6 or 7 pm each night. We have reached the point in our schedule where we are completely full, so we are not accepting any new patients. Dr. John has five procedures scheduled for today and will be seeing about seven new patients that will wait all day until he has some time between each procedure.

Although the purpose of our mission is surgery, we find that each year God brings an acute case to us that is unrelated to surgery. This year there have been two. Kulwa is an eight-year-old Maasai boy that we first saw laying listlessly on the bench next to his mother, who was waiting in queue to register her baby daughter to see Dr. John. Emily came to check his vital signs and his temperature was recorded at 105.7. There were many other indications that Kulwa was a very sick little boy. Unfortunately, it was after 5 pm and the Mazimbu doctors had left for the evening. After consulting with Dr. John, we advised his mother that he needed critical care through the night and to take him to the Regional hospital. When we arrived the next day, we were surprised to see Kulwa again, but this time he was walking around and smiling, clearly improved after treatment. The team gave him special attention every time we passed him by during the day, hoping to catch his infectious smile. By the end of the day, Kulwa felt happy to be around any of the team and would greet us willingly. The following day was a different story. Kulwa was sick again so one of the Mazimbu doctors took over his care and admitted him to the hospital. Dr Richard determinted that Kulwa is HIV+, has acute Malaria and probably a cardiac problem and possibly pneumonia. IV antibiotics were given and Kulwa was discharged yesterday. But, again, we had our friendly, sociable Kulwa greeting us all day yesterday.

Our second case came to us on Monday. Happy James and her husband Manfred registered in the queue for services. As the day wore on, Happy became increasingly weak and needed the assistance of a wheelchair. She was treated by the Mazimbu staff and seemed somewhat improved by the end of the day. Happy and Manfred were told to return on Tuesday but when they arrived, Happy was even sicker and was unable to walk. Dr. Richard admitted her, and the team has accepted financial responsibility for Happy. She was given a unit of blood yesterday and may need another unit today. The team stands ready to donate if we can help. We have checked on Happy this morning and she is now sitting up in bed and smiling.

After today, our work will be almost complete. We are not at Mazimbu tomorrow, but are journeying to Berega to meet with Tisho and learn about the orphanage where he is the director. So, Friday will be our day for cleanup, packing and farewells.

We haven’t mentioned this yet, but this year we added a few new things—we brought MANY reading glasses of different strengths and Eileen and Debbie have been having fun with patients, teaching them how to use a reading chart to determine the best strength. There have also been some sunglasses to pass out. And Dr. John found an app for doing hearing tests (yes, there IS an app for that!) and Pati and Epsilon have been giving hearing tests. This is trickier than you might think because it requires a very quiet environment, which is very hard to find at Mazimbu!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Work, Play and Worship

Friday was a day of challenges for the team. When our daladala pulled into the Mazimbu lot, our queue completely filled our “check in” area and spilled out and around the corner. Dr. John had nine patients right off the get-go—people that either had waited all day a prior day or a few that we checked in late in the day and told them to be back early on Friday. That meant that we could add only about five more patients to his queue for the day. So the decision was made to check in only 35 new patients in the hope that Dr. Kivuma could see about 30 that day. However, Dr. Kivuma had four procedures, so he would be away from his office for big chunks of time. That meant we had very bad news for about 170 people. Episilon and Samwel were calm and kind but worked with a very agitated crowd for almost two hours. It was impossible to determine who had arrived first and would be served that day. Finally, the security guards stepped forward and were able to identify those that were there first. Once the selection of the 35 lucky ones was made, the crowd accepted the decision and melted away.
Dr. John in OR

Using the gurney to move the patient to recovery

Emily continued working on our suture shortage and Nancy joined in the hunt. They got the OK from the anesthesiologist, Christina, to go through every box of suture in the OR. By doing that, they discovered a box of mixed sutures—probably the last piece from different boxes that was just tossed into the mixed box. Most of them were also expired but this process yielded two pieces that were usable. That made a total of three pieces, so the first two procedures were scheduled for that afternoon. A call to the dermatologist at the sister hospital, SUA, also yielded the “loan” of four sutures. And finally, Emily’s connection at Aga Khan bore fruit: she was able to talk to the clinical instructor that worked under her at Aga Khan, who met with the main hospital supplier, who agreed to order some sutures, who saved them when they arrived, who gave them to Gamma’s best friend, who took them to the bus station and put them on a bus to Morogoro to get them to Gamma, who drove to the bus station to meet them and pick them up. We now have enough suture to perform the procedures!

We did not leave the hospital until about 7pm Friday night and went directly to Dragonaire’s restaurant for pizza. Although we really enjoyed the fellowship with the team, the staff was busy that night so service for our party of 18 was slow. It was midnight before we fell into bed and off to sleep.

Saturday is a day off for the team and we all opted to take the trip to the local Maasai cattle market. We were joined by Amanda, a student from Vermont that is studying at the language school. Samwel and Epsilon rounded out our group. Samwel is a Maasai from the same village as Tisho, Melela, and was an excellent guide, answering all questions about Maasai culture and practices and offering interesting items we didn’t know to ask about. After walking and shopping for a bit, we joined Bishop Mameo under one of the bandas for food and drink. This is really a treat at the cattle market—cows and goats are slaughtered and butchered in the morning and slabs of meat are set to roast over open fires. Bishop ordered both beef and goat. This is sliced into bite sized pieces with a machete by a Maasai warrior and passed around, where portions are dabbed in a bit of salt and eaten with the fingers, hot and flavorful.

We were also honored to sit with and be introduced to the Chief of all the Maasai, Chief Moreto. While we were sitting enjoying our food, many many Maasai strolled through to give the Bishop and the Chief their greetings.
Maasai cattle market

Eileen and Maasai admirer

Driving cattle to market

Roasting meat
Under the banda

Mid afternoon found us back at LJS for a brief rest before we went to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner—the Oasis. The specialty here is sizzling platters served with vegetables and sauce and the meat of your choice. It was a great meal and we would all vote to return!

Our weekend would not be complete without worshipping with our Tanzanian brothers and sisters. Bishop Mameo specifically requested that we come to a celebration for the opening of a new pastor’s house. We did not know what to expect but we were treated to an amazing service. It began with tea and “bitings” of cassava and taro root before church. Then we were seated in seats of honor, being sure to ask Kilatu and Epsilon to intersperse among us to help with translation during the service. The sound of a brass band signaled the start of worship with a processional into the church that had toes tapping and hips swaying. Following the band were 18 pastors, the Bishop in full regalia, and the assistant to the Bishop. There were three choirs—the regular church choir, the youth choir and a special choir of university students. During the service, each choir sang at least twice. Although the three-and-a-half-hour service was much longer that we are accustomed to, it was a wonderful worship experience. We were given lunch, along with the whole congregation, and made our way back to LJS for a bit of a rest before dinner.

Recessional with 18 pastors

Tea and bitings

Maasai woman and daughter with Dr. John

Our young friend