Hi there,

Thank you for taking a look at this. Whilst I was in Tanzania I decided to keep a mini blog on facebook and so I’ve put all my posts together and here is what I was writing about. Just to let you know some bits are slightly graphic, emotional and sometimes my language isn’t exactly flowery, but it was (more or less, real time). Also, some bits aren’t so much to do with the hospital as Tanzanian culture, but I hope that these notes will provide some sort of insight for you into what the charity aims to achieve! Please feel free to message me if you want to ask any questions!

Here we go…
So basically this is just a way of letting everyone know what I’m up to over here, and for those who don’t know, I’ve come over to Tanzania to do some medical volunteering for a month.

So to start from the beginning I left for Tz on Thursday night and got to Tz at 1530 local time (and its two hours ahead of the Uk). For anyone who hasn’t flown with Emirates: they’re awesome. The food is awesome, the planes are awesome and the stewardesses aren’t too bad either ;)
When I got to Tanzania I had to fill out some immigration card-the lines are so small its almost physically impossible to write in them but I managed…so then I’m waiting in the queue for passport control, well I thought it was but it turns out I was waiting in the Visa queue-so when I got to the front (after about an hour and a bit) I was told I’d been wasting my time so went to the passport control queue-there wasn’t one person in the queue-but then I got waved straight through as well. The wait for luggage was somewhat amusing-two people had the same style of luggage so a fight basically broke out, and the kid next to me’s nose started gushing randomly too-pretty narly tbh.

Once I got my luggage I went through to the Tanzanian equivalent of a cattle pen-essentially everyone is staring at your hoping that you’ll pick them to drive you to where you need to go-once they see you they’re like flies on shit…its not even funny.

The drive back was even more scary-UK road laws would seem weird to a lot of these people, literally they drive with their horns-if you’re in the way they give a blast of the horn and wait till the last second to do an emergency stop…I’m glad I hadn’t eaten for a few hours!

After a terrifying hour and a half I got to my family’s home and from the outside it doesn’t look like much (the gates are guarded by a Masai warrior-awesome, eh? But the inside of their home is really beautiful.

Of course, having been travelling for about 20 hours the first order of the day was a cup of tea, so I had that and then I was taken around the house, and was shown the shower-I kind of got my hopes up-it looked very western but it turned out that it was a bucket and a cup… though I have to be honest though, the cold shower thing is actually really pleasant and so now i choose to have it!

For my first night they gave me a lovely dinner of sticky coconut rice and a meat stew with cabbage and kidney beans-all really delicious!

Day 2

Today was pretty interesting, I had a late start and then I was taken on a tour of my local town (Dar es Salaam) where I got to see all the locals and local markets and was taken out for lunch.
But it was pretty much a chill out day…so nothing too stressful!

(Day 3 is pretty much the same, just had a late brunch instead…)

So to finish off what happened on day three…
On sunday it was my birthday and my family, when they found out bought me a beautiful (and seriously delicious!) birthday cake (pictures will come up when I get back), and then the mister of my family took me out to meet two of his brothers and his sister-over here when you get accepted into a Tanzanian home you become one of the family-its so sweet.
Then on Day four:
Today its Monday and I had my induction to Tanzania with the hospital and volunteer company and just Tanzania in general. I think I should start off by describing the Daladala (the Tanzanian bus service). Riding the Daladala has to be among the more traumatic experiences I’ve had, but in some ways its also enjoyable. Its like a roller coaster without all the health and safety….theres no seat belts and on the smaller ones theres about 15 seats, and on the larger ones theres 20 or 25, but that doesnt mean that only 15 or 25 people get on..these Daladala get filled up to the brims-you can have maybe 25 people in the smaller ones and 40 people in the larger ones (anyone who is trying to imagine this imagine a game of tetris and a sardine tin-its kind of like that just a bit more deadly…) then the drivers are absolutely nuts. Literally, when these guys are driving the laws of the road don’t apply-I know I said they don’t really apply generally, but for these guys they apply EVEN less…theyll drive on the pavements or whatever. Its nuts.
Anyway, after a long 10 minute trip in the sardine tin, we got to the hospital and OH MY G-D its weird. There’s air conditioning in select wards, 20-25 people a ward (in the smaller ones) and a tiny doctor:patient ratio. The NHS thinks they’re understaffed…you should see the Mwanyanyamala hospital (did i mention how impossible it is to say….its impossible). The hospital has 70 births a day-55 of which are standard births…the other 15 have complications and require a C-section. The operating theatres as well-they look like something from the 1930s…for anyone who has seen the film “A matter of life or death” (one of the first colour films) they’re like the operating theatres out of that. The only pulse-oxy machines (the things they put on your finger when you are an inpatient) are in there, so the rest of the hospital goes without. And to top it off, they only have one x-ray machine and there are flies buzzing around people’s heads (that happens to some people generally so I don’t think I can put that down to the hospital!)
Anyway, I’m chilling out now-its the end of the day and I have to be in the hospital for 730 am tomorrow. Madness, no?
So in the words of Bugs bunny: “Thats all folks!”
See you soon guys!

Hey people, hows it going?

Apologies for not writing one of these sooner, I actually did write one yesterday, but the thing is…Tanzania has lots of scheduled blackouts, and even more unscheduled ones. I guess its so that the people here don’t get bored and are always on their toes or something…its kinda boring though once your used to it, so if it is to keep them interested and all that: its not working. It also means I’m going through batteries galore, so I’m gonna have a quick look around “Mr Price Home” (the Tanzanian equivalent of Asda) and see if I can buy AAA batteries. Seeing if they work is the next job, but I want to try to find them first!

Anyway, day five was weird. It was literally a culture shock. I’ve been put in the “internal medicine” ward and so its basically HIV, Malaria and TB…maybe a bit of meningitis or poisoning thrown in too but the majority of the problems are HIV related. Its weird when you go into the wards because you’re firstly greeted by the smell of faecal matter (or ‘shit’ as people back home might refer to it) and dried urine, but whats even worse is the fact that you see two or even three people in one bed. I know that sounds insane but its actually true, I’d take pictures but that’d go down about as well as saying that I don’t believe in Jesus here…yeah, they are very Christian. But you know what, I think Jesus doesn’t like the west…if the stories I’ve heard over here about what prayer can do for people, then Jesus must be here in Africa. I don’t know, but I think if he is here then he should stay here! The patient that seems to have stuck with me is this guy who looks like hes come straight out the holocaust. He is literally just skin and bones. All his stomach etc have shrunk to the point it looks like they’re no longer there. The unfortunate thing is that he had an infection in his throat so he couldn’t eat anyway, so he literally was wasting away. But patients that look like that aren’t uncommon in Tanzanian hospitals because of the prevalence of HIV, its actually called “Wasting syndrome”.
Back in the UK or anywhere else that isn’t in the Dark Ages he wouldn’t be anywhere near as critical as he was, but over here, even simple procedures are impossible or too dangerous over here. It really is shocking.
Day six, in my opinion, was good, if not a bit boring. Though I have to admit, having spent a bit more time here I’ve picked up a few Swahili phrases..the main one which I have learnt (its kind of a necessity to be honest) is “Mnzungoo” which means “white man”. Everyone calls me mnzungoo-even the doctors and nurses! But its not racist or anything, its just how they greet you, its kinda like saying “dude” over here… The other crazy thing about Tanzania is the price of treatment…I bought the holocaust dude some medicine, a feeding tube and a syringe for 4500 Tanzanian shillings…thats less than two pounds. In the UK it would probably have come to somewhere between 30 to 50 pounds (there’s no pound sign on the keyboards here….) . Insane, right? Or as they say here…”Kicha?”. But basically we got the tube and the medicine in and by day 7 he was eating normally. So for less than two pounds, I’ve actually prolonged his life!
After the hospital we went to the local mall which is called “Mlimani city” which as far as most of the population of Tanzania are concerned is like Buckingham palace-its so ‘upmarket’. So me and a couple of others went to the mall and then I decided to get a bajaji (kinda like one of those bicycle things that you tend to get in Soho) home. Well that was before I decided to walk and get HOPELESSLY LOST. Yes, I am a retard. He then took me to the wrong place, but whatever, it wasn’t a very expensive mistake-it cost me 2000 shillings (about 80p)! Got home to a very pleasant blackout and just chilled out with a very large portion of rice and fish (‘normal’ portions at home are huge, but at least all the food is tasty!). And well, I then just did that normal thing of going to bed…you know how it is.
Day seven
Well, today is Thursday, and as I’m writing this, the thing I’m most concerned about is when the new volunteer is getting here-I’m kind of trying to decide whether to go to sleep soonish and be (typically antisocial) or wait until he gets here and be a moody bastard in the morning as I think I will only have had about five and a half (maybe six) hours sleep by the time I have to wake up. Sleep sounds good though.
As far as hospital stuff goes: I was really looking forward to canulating someone (I’ve seen about 100 people being canulated, so I think I’m ready to give it a go)…thats the other thing about Tanzania, legal stuff that we have in the UK barely applies, but then again, when I look at some of the staff I wonder how qualified they really are compared to UK doctors. Either way, I don’t care what happens to me, there is not a chance in hell I am being treated at the hospital. Its disgusting there. Plus you only get one meal a day and I don’t want to waste away or anything ;)
At the beginning of the day, three volunteers (myself included) had a meeting with the social welfare officer about getting funding for the hospital so that they can provide three meals a day and fresh bottled water. Its unfortunate because one of the volunteers is German and so English is not his first language, so when he was talking to the social welfare officer I have a feeling that the language barrier wasn’t so much a jump as a great big mountain with armoured guards; though with a bit of help and work, we managed to beat it. But the worst thing is that the hospital has so little funding that the nappies they use for children (Pampers) get used for TWO DAYS before being changed? How bad is that? Hopefully once the charity is more established we can change that! I mean, I’m not a baby person but I’m sure that two days is a very long time to be sitting in your own excrement? Please, any parents out there, correct me if I’m wrong though!
I think as far as practical stuff goes, the most practical thing I did today, was also the worst thing…I had to help wrap a dead patients body up, so without going into details, after having the patients body dropped on my arms, I now understand where the term ‘dead weight’ comes from! Anybody reading this probably thinks that my sense of humour is often quite dry, but its easy to be light hearted about most things, but I’ve kind of become numb with this experience..though I don’t by any means regret coming onto it. But its very hard to maintain the light breezy humour after what you see here; and I feel that if I was to box up my sense of humour, I’d go crazy, so I apologise in advance if my humour gets a bit too dry!
Though, the end of the day was awesome, we went to the cinema to see The Lion King in 3D and it was brilliant! Also, I’m not sure if you guys know this, but a lot of the names and phrases in TLK are actually Swahili. Rafiki means Friend (Rafiki is the awesome, eccentric baboon); Asante Sana [Squashed banana] means Thank you very much (this is the song that Rafiki sings from the tree; and most interestingly Simba means Lion in Swahili. I never realised so I think thats pretty cool, maybe thats just me though?!
So I’m knackered and I’ve decided that I’m going to be really anti-social tonight and sleep now…I guess my new room mate (I believe his name is Fergus) will just have to accept that for tonight! Maybe I’ll be nice to him tomorrow though! :P
Anyway, I’ll try to get back on here soon!
Much love for my readers!
Jez

(kinda spent like 2 weeks writing this note so you might find that the timings are weird!)
Well, I’ve kinda lost track of time…Tanzania is like a really good shower, you kinda just get in and you start off dirty and then all your troubles go away, so now I’m pretty much completely Tanzanian when it comes to time management-hence why I haven’t written a note in like ages!
So I’ve spent the last few days in the labour ward/chilling. The weekend was chilling and the week days have been in the labour ward.
So the weekend was pretty boring, we went to Bagamoyo which was basically the center of the slave trade back in the late 19th century, but the beaches there are good, and I’m gutted, I lost my SPF 40 anti-jellyfish suncream! I don’t know what I’ll do now. Maybe my SPF 25 anti-jellyfish suncream will do!?!? On a more amusing note: went to the beach and to see a museum which we had to pay for, the bugger was that we were told if we pay for the museum we get to see the fort (some structure the Germans built way back) that was quite significant to the slave way back, but then hes walking us along and he says that he wants his money-after a short while of him saying that we heard wrong, we kind of just said that we’re tired of his crap so he could go. (FYI, a lot of the tales I’ll write about involve the locals trying to empty our wallets and treat us like its legit…sometimes they’re bastards.)
On the way back though it was hilarious, I got into a seat towards the front of the dala dala and so I’m sitting there and then all of a sudden the bus stops and this guy gets on and I just see the bag that he has and turn to look at everyone (this was a mistake…I’ll explain later) but the problem was that it was filled with fish, literally GREAT BIG WET SMELLY FISH! So anyway, I turn around to look at everyone and explain the situation, and then all of a sudden I can barely turn around, I was stuck. One guy had his arm over my shoulder, another woman was standing on one side of my legs, another was standing on the other side and another on the other side of my legs, then i had one guy leaning on the window with his armpit right next to where my nose would have been. When I turned around I got a right old waft of it, it was horrid! I guess it could be described as the aroma of sewage mixed with dead bodies…but thats not an uncommon sort of scent here-sometimes you can be walking behind someone and end up trying to hold your breath (breathing through your mouth doesn’t really work because then you taste the smell..the smell is much much easier on the gag reflex if I’m honest with you :P )
As for the labour ward, its all pretty standard stuff: women, catheters, farting, swearing and literally massive turds!! (These women put elephants to shame!) Oh and theres some babies too…….
But its kinda depressing there too, the babies who don’t make it are stuck in a plastic crate under a table, and the worst part is that when they come out you can kinda tell they won’t make it just because the facilities are so basic, like when I went in this morning, one baby was out on the table and it had oxygen, but it was just lieing there dead, and in the UK it might have survived, but here…you just know it doesn’t stand a chance-which is awful to say, but its true. But then, the turnover rate of women and babies is so massive that you don’t really have time to process a death because 2 minutes later another woman starts to pop-its just insane.
We went to the beach and to see a museum which we had to pay for, the bugger was that we were told if we pay for the museum we get to see the fort (some structure the Germans built way back) that was quite significant to the slave way back, but then hes walking us along and he says that he wants his money-after a short while of him saying that we heard wrong, we kind of just said that we’re tired of his crap so he could go. (FYI, a lot of the tales I’ll write about involve the locals trying to empty our wallets and treat us like its legit…sometimes they’re bastards.)
Though, on a kind of braggy sort of note…I SAVED A BABY’S LIFE!!! Oh yeah, that’s right! But in all seriousness, this baby was a bit of a premature baby (like 30 weeks) but the woman was so tiny so the baby was even tinier, the baby was just over 2kg (the ideal weight is about 3.5) so it was majorly underweight! So we deliver it, and it was a breach which means it came out arse before head (should be head first!) and it got stuck in the birth canal for about 15 minutes and she didn’t cry for 2 minutes, once it was out, and so that meant that it needed a bit of a ‘jump start’…So the nurse says to me “have you seen how to resuscitate?” and I had so she handed me the baby and just said “better get going!”. To say I didn’t contemplate shitting myself would be a lie, but the only reason for that is because the resuscitation station was right next to the mother’s bed, so she could see EVERYTHING I was doing. Luckily I had my back turned to her whilst I was working because if I had been able to see her I think I would have struggled. So I spent about 5-10 minutes breathing for the baby and then the baby let out the most amazing cry-I actually jumped for joy! It was the most amazing feeling. Once it cried we stuck it on oxygen for a while and every now and again it would stop breathing, but then after like 25 minutes it was breathing fine so we were all happy-until the most untimely power cut an hour later; but the baby was stable by that time so it wasn’t a problem. Sorry if that sounded braggy, but as far as I’m concerned it was amazing, and this is also like my diary so I’m putting the lighter more interesting things on here, and a few of the slightly shocking things too…
I could go into detail aout all the stuff that I’ve been doing for the last two weeks, but to be honest, its just delivering babies and all that, so its not really that awesome now..its kinda just baby, blood, fluid, baby, blood, fluid, weigh babies, and drink (glug! glug! glug!). Its amazing how stressful having babies is, during a normal day on the labour ward I drink around 4 litres of water (maybe a pepsi or two too!) and by the end of the day I’m still dehydrated. I kind of feel sorry for the women as well because the facilities aren’t the cleanest and the midwives aren’t the most sympathetic souls either, so these women come in, and up until the point when they’re having their baby they get very little attention, so it often means that the volunteers are the first people there to help when a birth starts! As far as the women are concerned we’re even better doctors as we’re white, but the worst thing is that we aren’t doctors and we can’t explain that either…the women often look at us and ask us to perform procedures that although most of us now know how to do, we aren’t technically meant to do-luckily we can blame it all on the language barrier and pretend to be ignorant of what they’re asking for! (We then scurry off and get a nurse or midwife so that they can then do it!)
So last weekend (24th) we went to Zanzibar which was literally amazing. The beaches were awesome, the group was fantastic, we saw monkeys and all sorts of other things, got screwed as tourists and one of the group threw a bag of puke which then exploded over someone’s foot…this lead to a skinhead shouting at us telling us he wanted to talk to our parents (at which point I had to turn around as I burst out laughing) so yeah, the whole weekend was awesome!
Finally yesterday (30th of July) 6 of the volunteers went to an African wedding which was awesome. Say no more.
Anyway, I’m kind of sick of writing this note and I’ve probably repeated myself a few million times so I’m going to stop here. I’ll try to keep you a bit more updated for the next few days though!

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