Saturday, August 18, 2012

Friday, August 10th: Hallelujah! Inspiration!

Finally, at the end of our third week, Raelyn and I were getting the hang of our work. We each came up with some great ideas that will need to be implemented within the next week!

After Raelyn’s interviews, she decided to make plastic mattress covers for the infant beds. We were able to salvage a nice crusty piece of mattress cover from storage that we can hopefully clean and tailor into zip-able covers. We’re also thinking about making dust covers for some oxygen concentrators. These ideas will definitely help to maintain the equipment and keep them clean!

On another note, in Tanzania, the power is 230 Volts, but many pieces of equipment are donated and require 110-120 Volts. We’ve noticed a few examples of damaged equipment resulting from incorrect input voltages. So we made small guides to place near outlets to direct staff about checking equipment and utilizing transformers. We hope to give the staff a presentation about it next week.

After my own interviews, it came to my attention that the female ward lacks an X-Ray film reader, which is literally just a big light with which to read X-Rays. While in our workshop, I noticed our abandoned bili lights. Bili Lights are a type of phototherapy device used for babies with jaundice (I was actually a jaundice baby!). They provide UV light to break down bilirubin, and require specific blue UV bulbs. The current bulbs installed are just regular halogen bulbs, and replacing them would be an impractical and expensive job. We can’t expect that the staff would be willing to find and purchase the UV lights on their own when they need replacing. Also, we already found and installed easy-to-maintain, EWH brand, and working bili lights. I thought it might be a cool idea if we converted the abandoned bili lights to an X-Ray reader by simply putting some type of shade over the lights and installing it in the wall. That will be another project for next week!

Brutal Honesty of Tanzanians

Something I appreciate about Tanzanians is their honesty. Some in America might see it as a lack of a filter, but I think Americans are just too “politically correct” and afraid of saying it like it is. We’re too damn sensitive!

If you’re white, Tanzanians will be sure to tell you.

If you’re a little bit heavier, or too skinny, they will also feel the need to let you know.

If you have acne on your forehead (like I did this week), multiple people will want to know if you’re okay or attacked my mosquitoes. One of the nurses, Peris, asked me if it was just, “adolescence.” -____-

Wednesday, August 8th: Nane Nane

Week three started off much better than last week. We started interviewing hospital staff to get a better idea of which equipment needs repairing and perhaps some inspiration for our own projects. Our Italian housemates also taught us how to make gnocchi! Delizioso!

Today is a Tanzanian agricultural holiday, called “Nane Nane.” Translation: “Eight Eight,” for August 8th! Much of the hospital staff took off, and we were encouraged to relax during the holiday. Traditionally, all the farmers bring their crops to Arusha and Njiro to show off their goods and hopefully make some moneyz. We were interested in going, but it sounded like a nice opportunity to sit in traffic and get pickpocketed. So instead, we met up with some of our colleagues and set off to some hot springs near Machame called, “Maji Moto.” (meaning: “Hot water” – yet another creative African title). It was soooo nice and ridiculously fun. Definitely a highlight of my trip to Tanzania!

And a five! six! seven! eight!

Tanya convinced Raelyn and I to attend a cheap aerobics class with her on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I myself have never been to an exercise class, but thought it’d be a nice way to work off some of the African calories I’ve been accumulating. Also aerobics is just a hysterical phenomenon to me.

The class does not disappoint. I break a sweat, get to dance around to an ABBA soundtrack, embarrass myself with other middle-aged white women, and follow the suave moves of my Tanzania instructor, Amadeus.

Needless to say, I’ve attended every class so far.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sunday, August 5th: Machame Hike

Today we went with Tanya and her friend Debbie on a day hike near Machame. Debbie is from Colorado, and worked at the hospital in 2008-2009. It was really nice of them to invite us on their hike, and I enjoyed getting to know them better!

First waterfall of the day!

Raelyn and I by the second waterfall


August 3rd: Ending the week right

After a “pole pole” week at the hospital, we enjoyed Lasagna day once again, and then went into Arusha to pick up parts. Additionally my four-year old computer adapter decided to stop working this week, so I had to pick up a new (and extremely expensive) one. On our way home, we changed dala dala’s twice, and one of the conductors pretended we didn’t pay him. Of course we didn’t give in, such a jerk.

To unwind after a rough week, we helped out at the orphanage! The kids are so sweet, and a little mischievous! It’s nice to go in the evening because it’s when the Mamas have the least amount of volunteers to put the kids to bed. The children are starting to get to know my name! :D (Well, “Lili,” if you can call that my name) 
Neema stealing my glasses!

My little friend Andrea and "Mama Lili"

Absolute Chaos

Wednesday, August 1st: Taking the Initiative

This week we had the arrival of some new housemates! Martina, Lorenzo, and Daria are medical student from Italy. They help out tremendously around the hospital. Anne also arrived within hours after the Italians, but from Germany to volunteer at the orphanage. Our house right now is PACKED with 11 people!

Unfortunately, week two of the hospital has been off to a rocky start. I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather, and had a hard time focusing at work. I worked at the house Monday afternoon and wrote up some cute little instructions for phototherapy lights we’d like to install that we found in the OB ward.

What has been bogging me down the most is the how Nkoaranga operates. It can be so unorganized, and no one is really aware of what equipment the hospital owns. The staff lacks a certain initiative to look through a cabinet and maybe plug some equipment in to see if it works. So far we’ve been digging through the wards, and finding some perfectly good equipment that has been neglected.

Donations to Nkoaranga are also just as frustrating, not because the equipment is broken, but because the donations are usually irrelevant. It would be nice if our hospital used ECGs, nebulizers, or ESUs, but it doesn’t. Therefore good equipment collects dust in storage. Our friend, Tanya, is a nurse from Belgium. She’s been working here for almost four years now and wishes she could ship all the useless donations back because most of the time they just sit here taking up space!