While Inesha is off enjoying the sights and sounds of Buenos Aires (miss you big sis!), I have almost reached the halfway point in my 2 month adventure in Tanzania. And what a trip it has been! First, a brief bit about what exactly I am doing here for the many who have asked :)
This summer I am serving as a Harvard Global Health Institute intern, placed locally with the Association of Private Health Facilities in Tanzania (APHFTA), an organization which serves to unite the medical facilities which offer private care in and around Tanzania. As an intern, I have been helping to deploy mMaisha (Maisha means “life” in Swahili)—a program that is in its pilot phase here in Tanzania. If all goes as planned, it will greatly improve the quality of care offered at medical facilities because it will make it easier for doctors to communicate with patients via mobile technologies as well as make medical records electronic and, therefore, more accessible.
Traveling from Dar to Moshi to Arusha to Tanga has been an absolute joy, because with it has come the opportunity to see an incredible amount of the Tanzanian countryside and interact with medical professionals and townspeople in every place we visit. As a student with an avid interest in Anthropology (especially Medical Anthropology), I have really been enjoying the opportunity.
When my fellow interns and I aren’t helping with trainings in the use of the program or traveling around the country to visit different clinics and interview the doctors and nurses working there, we are embarking on our own study—one of the culture and community in this amazingly vibrant place :)
- Trekking to Ndoro waterfalls. A beautiful place, a peaceful day.
- These doctors and nurses. Its amazing to see the pure excitement and joy in the expressions of our dedicated doctors and nurses when they realize the power that lies in their fingertips—power that they realize can truly make a difference as they approach the keyboard of their computers. Some have never seen a computer in their lives, let alone tried to use one. Thinking about those moments, I am incredibly touched and humbled by my opportunity to teach them something, considering all that they are teaching me.
- Meeting Deodata. What an incredibly strong, powerful woman. She is our very own “Tanzanian Mama,” and is truly an inspiration. She commands respect without ever having to ask for it and provides us with invaluable guidance as we navigate the terrain of Tanzania and our lives.
- Galanos Sulfur Springs & Amboni Caves. I love nature. And I absolutely love being surrounded by it and experiencing it in the way that it was intended to be experienced. But ah, how rare that is in the 21st century! I must say that our tour of Amboni caves in Tanga was the most natural cave experience I have ever had—no bright lights, roped in areas, or gift shops—it was just what it was intended to be—a beautifully dark and natural cave, with sloping walls that shone with the light from our flashlights bouncing across them.
- Church on Sunday. I have been Buddhist all my life, but when I read in my Lonely Planet Guide that there was a Sunday mass at the local Catholic Church in Moshi on Sunday morning, I consulted the team, and we decided to go. After all, why not? And what a cultural experience it was—complete with the typical Tanzanian lack of punctuality and beautiful “chagga” singing… we also soon realized that we had inadvertently sat in the children’s section of the pews and were happily swimming fishes in a sea of bright, curious faces.
- Swahili. Still learning! :)
And that’s it for now! We will be off on Safari in just a few days and then on to Lindi!
Until then, kwaheri!