Dancing the Day and Night Away

June 19, 2016 by


Music and Dance are an integral part of any celebration in Karagwe.  We have had so many opportunities to enjoy various forms of both.  Near the end of our second week, we hosted a demonstration of traditional local dance (ngoma) and instruments through the local cultural resource district office.  The man in the picture is playing a reconstruction of a traditional instrument.  We set up the demonstration at a local school and within minutes attracted an avid audience of 300 people.

In addition to the traditional dance group, we have enjoyed the rhythmic dances of the choirs that we have heard, danced with other women at a bridal shower, and watched a bride to be and her bridal party dance their way through a send-off party (local version of a rehearsal dinner prior to a wedding). The bride to be was dazzling in her yellow dress as seen in the picture below.  Men and women alike joined in the dancing, dancing the night away.



Color and Kangas, Kangas Everywhere

June 8, 2016 by


By Lisa Tondora and Haley Hall

As you walk the streets of Karagwe, Tanzania, you’ll see women, mostly of child-bearing age and older, wearing beautifully designed fabrics. Kangas, as the native Tanzanians call them, are rectangularly shaped, brightly colored fabrics about four yards long. They sell for 18,000 shillings (6 dollars) at the local market; 15,000 if you have a Tanzanian friend with you to haggle.

But these kangas aren’t just used as women’s clothing. You’d be surprised at the various creative ways women utilize these fabrics. In the mother/child department of the hospital, you’ll see lines of mothers waiting patiently with their children for their usual check-ups. These mothers carry their toddlers on their backs using the kangas.  A woman will bend forward at a 90 degree angle with the child resting on her back, sling the fabric over her head and around the child’s bottom, and tie the corners up above her breasts. The child can rest calmly and comfortably in the kanga, close to his or her mother.

As you walk from this department to the antenatal section of the hospital, you’ll see more women lined up waiting for their appointments, but these women use the kangas in a different way. Pregnant women are required to bring with them two kangas to their antenatal check-ups. They are instructed to lay out each kanga on the examination table as a sort of “sterile field”. When the kangas are not being used as a covering for the table, they wear one around their shoulders and one around their growing bellies.

Within the local market, you’ll see women using their kangas to hold groceries such as fruits and vegetables.  They can tie one end around their necks and the other around their waists, with items held snugly in the middle. This strategy leaves their hands open to carry more groceries.

With their unique patterns and exquisite colors, these kangas are more than just a fashion statement for the females of Tanzania. They are a tool used to make several aspects of the women’s lives easier. From carrying babies to holding grocery items, kangas are an environmentally friendly – and stylish – alternative to paper and plastic.

There were no malls, clothing stores, or Walmart Super Centers where we were in Tanzania. The female population purchases their favorite fabric from the “market” and have the local tailors transform the fabric into unique and beautiful conservative clothing. Our group was fortunate to meet with a tailor and have a variety of articles made from our fabric purchases from the local outdoor market. Some of the items included: wrap-around skirts, dresses, large and small bags, make-up bags, pillow cases, lap-top cases, and aprons to name just a few.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Living the Simple Life

June 8, 2016 by

By Kathryn Hurley and Alexandra Giannone

Since we have arrived in Tanzania, we have noticed many things here that are not as big a deal as they are in America. One of the first things we noticed was that in our guest house there is only one mirror to share among nine girls. Because of this, many of us are less concerned about our appearances and wearing make-up. We can now go all day without looking in a mirror as opposed to being at home in America, where we look in the mirror first thing in the morning and several times throughout the day.


In addition to the mirrors, we had another thought that went along with this. We have noticed that women do not wear make-up to the extent that Americans do. Maybe this is because of the lack of mirrors, or the simple belief of natural beauty. We both agree that we haven’t needed to wear make-up here because we are not constantly looking in the mirror and criticizing ourselves. We also feel that everyone here is more accepting of others not wearing make-up, whereas in America, not wearing make-up is not as common as wearing make-up is.


Another interesting finding is women’s clothing here. We quickly realized that women here are not as concerned at quantity of clothes as much as the quality. Walk-in closets are definitely not as common in Tanzania as they are in America. In America, girls are pressured to have a vast amount of clothing and to not wear the same outfit twice. Here in Tanzania, women buy fabric of their choice and bring them to a tailor and have exactly what they want made. Therefore, they have what they need and are happy with what they have. On Sunday’s, everyone wears their best to chapel. We were all amazed with the beauty and detail seen in these dresses. We wish things could be more like this in America.


The last thing we want to mention is our new appreciation for laundry machines at home. We just completed our laundry, Tanzanian style, and we have the upmost respect for people who do their laundry this way. We had to fill a basin with water and detergent, scrub our clothes in the mixture, empty the basin, and hand rinse each article of clothing. Then we wrung out our clothes and hung them on the line outside. This may sound simple, but it was hard work.


We hope to remember and hold onto some of these concepts as we head home to America. Sometimes as Americans, we take things that seem so simple for granted, as well as forget that some things should remain simple.

By: Katie and Lexi

Our Food is Your Food: Tanzanian Hospitality

June 7, 2016 by


By Ambika Ramesh and Meghna Kataky
Food, known as “chakula” in Tanzania, is an integral part of the culture and community in Tanzania. It is often used as the central part of celebrations. For example, we had the wonderful opportunity to visit a local family (the heads of this household are known as Mama and Baba Muga) who prepared copious amounts of delicious food for the 12 of us. We have also noticed that the people of Tanzania really value all of the food that they have. Perhaps it has to do with the scarcity and rigor with which they obtain their food. Rarely, if at all, will you find food in the garbage can and all leftovers are put to use by the next day.
As you step into the local market, you’re hit with an aroma of fresh cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, and curry powder. Fresh spices are packaged and hung from the ceiling waiting to be picked. The countertops are stacked with basins filled with the essential Tanzanian foods, like rice, beans, and white flour. Everything is fresh and organic with no added preservatives, which is not so common in the United States.
Coffee is one of the largest cash crops in Tanzania that has contributed to Tanzania’s economic growth. When we visited Mr. Boas Mugande’s farm, he was growing two different types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta. Coffee plants require specific conditions to grow in. Mr. Boas planted the coffee around the banana plants. The banana leaves not only protect the coffee from the sun, but they also make a natural fertilizer. In Tanzania, in addition to drinking coffee, the people chew on the coffee beans and eat the center. In Tanzania, everything serves a purpose and nothing goes to waste.
Speaking of banana, fruit, particularly fresh fruit, is a huge part of the diet in Tanzania. None of the food comes from cans. In fact, we had the opportunity to see the use of greenhouses that grow plenty of fresh fruit – from pineapples to papayas to many others. There are also many unique fruits to be found in Tanzania, such as passion fruit. On a hike in Karagwe, some of us had the opportunity to try fresh passion fruit, for which you “crack” open the fruit with your hands and then suck out the seeds.
Last is the meat. As mentioned before, everything is organic, including the meat. In Tanzania, you will not find the meat to have any injections or supplements like you would find in the U.S. Additionally, the meat eaten here is so fresh that you will see it hanging in the markets. Lastly, goat meat is very prevalent here. For those of you who have not had the chance to try goat meat, it tastes like a slightly rougher version of beef.
Food is the thread that intertwines the people of Tanzania. Food is valued for its scarcity and for its ability to bring people together. The flavorful food and myriad of spices exemplify Tanzania’s culture and people.

Empowering Women in Rural Tanzania

May 30, 2016 by


By Megan McGovern and Shana Noon

Educating young women is very important in rural Tanzania. It empowers them to obtain higher education and pursue higher paying careers. Education gives women more status in society. Women that are educated tend to delay the age they have their first child and they tend to have less children than the average. As a result, educated women have less health problems associated with childbearing. Often boys are favored over girls when it comes to paying for education.

Today, we visited a girl’s high school.  Bweranyange Girls Secondary School makes it their mission to educate young women and empower them to pursue higher education. In the States, we often do not think about the value or meaning of education. We take it for granted. We do not think about the difference it can make. The Bweranyange Girls Secondary School is an all-girls boarding school that houses about 300 students. They must all wear the same uniform and cut their hair very short so that they could focus on their studies instead of their appearance. We sat down in the grass and spoke with some of these young women. They had very high goals. Several told us they wanted to become doctors. The girls sang their school anthem for us which was filled with powerful words.  It was beautiful. Below is a verse:

“Striving to provide girls with spiritual guidance are and scientific knowledge skills self-awareness and develop their talents in all spheres of life aiming at getting disciplined accountable industrious knowledgeable and morally standing women for the benefit of nation and mankind.”

The education these young women were receiving was the equivalence of the level of high school in the United States. However, the educational system is very different here.  After students finish primary school (grades kindergarten to seventh grade) they must take a national standardized exam which determines their eligibility to attend secondary school and which “track” they may take. Secondary school is divided into two tracks:  1) arts and humanities and 2) science. The students must score high enough on the exam in order to attend secondary school and take the track they want. All classes in secondary school are taught in English.


To Dubai and On

May 24, 2016 by


We  are  on our way. Our group merged to JFK airport from various places in the Eastern USA and is preparing to take off on Emirates Airline: Uganda via Dubai.

Global Engagement in Tanzania 2016 Is OFF!

May 22, 2016 by

Our Trip Begins….by Jennifer Sayers

An exciting new adventure awaits us! We are a dozen intrepid travelers about to embark on a life-changing journey to Karagwe, Tanzania. As we begin our long trek to East Africa, I can feel the anticipation of each member of our team growing and I remember what it was like the first time I traveled to Africa. I had no
idea what to expect but somehow I knew that my life would never be the same. This will be my seventh trip to this beautiful continent and I’ve learned that with each experience there are new friends to meet, new places to go and new lessons to learn. I am originally from San Diego and I am a recent graduate from the masters in biomedical sciences program at The Commonwealth Medical College. I can’t wait to
begin making memories and forming new bonds beginning with the members of our team, each coming from one of three of Northeast Pennsylvania’s distinguished institutions.

We are led by Dr. Linda Winkler, Professor of Anthropology of Wilkes University who is guiding her 35st group of students and colleagues on a global study abroad immersion. This is her 19th trip to East Africa. Dr. Winkler has been involved in community health projects in this region since 2002. This trip, she will be continuing work on her ongoing project on maternal and neonatal health outcomes with myself, Shana Noon and Megan McGovern. Dr. Winkler has experienced Karagwe’s rich culture, friendship, hospitality, community and transition over the years and her unique perspective will help to enrich what promises to be a wonderful experience. She has won a Paul Harris Rotary International Award for her projects in Tanzania and a University of Pittsburgh Teaching Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award for her global programs.

Also from Wilkes University, we are joined by Dr. Evene Estwick, an Associate Professor in Communication Studies. Her research focuses include international media, globalization and the media, Caribbean media, as well as developmental and intercultural communication. Dr. Estwick has served as a faculty advisor for study abroad and community service trips in Turkey, Tanzania, Peru, Belize, and Dominican Republic. This is the Dr. Estwick’s fifth year as a faculty advisor in the Tanzania Study Abroad program and she will continue her work with Radio Karagwe, the local community radio station. Dr. Estwick and Dr. Winkjler recently received a grant to support a joint community health project using radio in Tanzania.

Joining us from Misericordia University is Dr. Cynthia Mailloux, a Nursing Department professor and chairperson. Her primary area of practice focuses on nursing education and curriculum development. Dr. Mailloux’s research interests evolve around the principles of “learner empowerment”,”nursing autonomy”and outcomes of “patient navigation systems”. Dr. Mailloux was the 2001 recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award from Penn State Worthington Scranton, 2004 Pennsylvania Nurse Research Award presented by the Pennsylvania State Nurse Association and in 2013 the Pauly and Sidney Friedman Faculty Award for Service from
Misericordia University. She was a 2015 AACN Wharton Nurse Leadership Scholar. This is the second year that Dr. Mailloux has participated in the Global Health course offered in Tanzania.

As for the rest of the team, I will let them introduce themselves:

Hello! I am Shana Noon. I just finished my junior year of nursing school at Wilkes University. I am excited and grateful for this opportunity to study abroad in Tanzania. I cannot wait to learn more about the culture and meet new people. I only once briefly traveled outside of the United States for an Alternative Spring Break trip to Costa Rica. In addition to Alternative Spring Break, I am very involved on campus. I am a Resident Assistant, Bystander Peer Trainer, and I tutor nursing courses. I am so ready for this adventure in Tanzania for four weeks! I’m interested to come to understand the differences in health care, challenges that nurses and other health care professionals face, and how culture and resources affect the approach to treatment. I believe my time in Tanzania will provide me with more global awareness and expose me to experiences that I may not have gotten the chance to see in the United States. I’m not going to waste a single moment during my time in Tanzania. I want to learn and see as much as I can because I believe this experience will make me a better nurse.

My name is Megan McGovern and I am currently a junior at Wilkes University. At school, I am a double major, studying both Biology/Pre- Med and Spanish. I aspire to get accepted into medical school and become an emergency physician. I have been to numerous countries around the world, but this is my first trip to Africa! I am very fortunate and blessed to be a part of this once in a lifetime experience!
While in Tanzania, I will be studying and gathering information concerning the caesarean section dangers and rates of C-section procedures in comparison to America.

I’m Katie Hurley and I’m entering my senior year at Misericordia University. I am from a small town in Pennsylvania called Sayre, which is right on the border of New York. I’ve been working as a care partner at the hospital, but have also worked at an ice cream shop and a boutique in the past. My favorite things are probably ice cream and mac and cheese, you can never have too much! I like doing things outdoors but also like to relax and watch movies. I’ve never been out of the country so this will be a very new experience for me! I’m excited but nervous at the same time. Going on this trip is far outside my comfort zone but I think it’ll be a great experience.

Hi, I’m Haley, and here’s a short biography about who I am and why, in just a few shorts day, I am headed to Tanzania, Africa. I love people. I love meeting them, getting to know them, and most of all, taking care of them when they need help the most; little kids, especially. Children’s innate optimism combined with a maturity level that perfectly matches my own is what leads me to become a pediatric
nurse. Along with this, I’ve always been interested in understanding why some groups of people remain living in poverty with little opportunity to progress. As a nurse, I hope to someday be able to help change the lives of children growing up in this type of environment. I am also cursed with a very powerful case of wanderlust, so to combine all of the things that fascinate me with a trip to Karagwe, Tanzania is a dream come true.

My name is Lexi Giannone. I am from Long Island, NY and I am a senior nursing student at Misericordia University. Africa has always been a place that I’ve dreamed of visiting, but I never thought I would be going there to extend a helping hand doing what I love to do. This trip will definitely be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I wasn’t always a nursing major. I actually changed my major from speech language
pathology to nursing. Nursing, to me, is about empathy, caring for someone, and advocating for that person. I have grown to be very passionate about my future profession, and everything that it takes to be a nurse. I’m hoping that while we are in Tanzania I am able to work with many children. I am overwhelmed with emotions as I prepare for this trip since I have never done anything like this before.

My name is Lisa Tondora. Currently, I am a Licensed Practical Nurse attending the part-time evening accelerated RN BSN nursing program at Misericordia University. I have been a resident of Northeastern Pennsylvania my whole life. I have one wonderful son currently serving in the United States Navy. I crave knowledge and find myself searching for new challenges and activities to satisfy my interest. My
belief is that humor is an important quality to possess, especially when working closely with colleagues, patients, and families. I am a firm believer in treating others with respect, dignity, equality, and kindness. My spontaneous nature brought me to the decision to engage myself in traveling to Tanzania.
Meeting people of different cultural backgrounds is exciting for me. My hope is to meet new people as well as gain lifelong friendships. There is no doubt in my mind this will be and opportunity of a lifetime.

My name is Ambika Ramesh. I attended the University of Pittsburgh for my undergraduate studies. I majored in Neuroscience with a mind and focus on medicine. Through shadowing physicians, volunteering in hospitals, and working as a nursing aide, I was propelled towards the field of medicine. Before my junior year, I volunteered abroad in India at the Manasa Foundation. The Manasa foundation
is dedicated to providing homeless women with mental illness shelter, treatment, and employment. My experiences abroad sparked my interest in rural medicine and providing care to underserved communities. I recently graduated from The Commonwealth Medical College and received my Masters in Biomedical Sciences. This will be my very first study abroad experience and my very first time in Africa! I look forward to learning about the culture and people of Tanzania. More so, I am grateful for the opportunity to volunteer at Nyakahanga Designated District Hospital and work with its staff,
patients, and students.

My name is Meghna Kataky and I’m currently from Atlanta, Georgia (although I’ve lived in several other locations around the US including Kentucky, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, and Pennsylvania). I received my undergraduate degree in Healthcare Management at Washington University in St. Louis, and this year, I completed my Master in Biomedical Sciences degree at The Commonwealth Medical College. In
regard to this community service trip to Tanzania, in addition to learning as much as I can about health care in Tanzania, I hope to take in as much as possible about Tanzanian culture and customs. I am particularly interested in exploring two areas while in Tanzania: observing the lives and health of children and entering the discussion on the prevalence of depression in Tanzania. Additionally, I look
forward to the opportunity to travel on a safari within the Serengeti.

A Full Moon Over Tanzania: The End of Our Journey

June 10, 2015 by

By Dr. Cindy Mailloux, Sarah Brozena, Erica Chambers, Kelsey Feinman, and Ariel Velez

moonTonight is our last night at Nyakahanga Hospital. We sit and reflect on the global experience we have just been privileged to be a part of. When I think of the Sister of Mercy charisms of service, mercy, justice and hospitality, we have experienced and lived them here in Tanzania. The people of Karagwe have been so welcoming and appreciative of the small things that we have done for them. In reality they have given us so much more. They have taught us that it is not what you have but what you do with it. This hospital is full of life and the people that we have worked with are inspiring.

We think of the children whose education is supported by the efforts of Dr Linda Winkler and Wilkes University who without them life would be much different. These children are given the opportunity to become leaders or to obtain jobs to provide for their families. We admire the efforts taken by many with the Mavuno Project and the Baramba School for Girls whose focus on the empowerment of woman and sustainability is a paramount focus in bringing change to this area. As we leave we thank all of those individuals who gave up time to help us understand health care in Tanzania.

The Many Roles of a Pharmacist in Tanzania

June 10, 2015 by

By Sarah Brozena

At Wilkes, the various roles and opportunities of a pharmacist are frequently discussed. Pharmacy is advocated as more than the “count, pour, and stick” stereotype. I have found this to be true in the Nyahahanga Hospital in Tanzania. My experience began in “the dispensing room” of the pharmacy. Most dispensing areas in hospitals or retail settings in the United States have hundreds of medications. This pharmacy has significantly less medications and most are antibiotics. All the drugs are stored in an adjacent room with only about ten medications readily accessible by the staff. All medical equipment is ordered in through the pharmacy and distributed once a week. The computer system is new and not frequently used. The inventory is done manually and there are no available patient records. Some of this information is only available if the date of last admission is known. Patients must also pay for their medication in advance at the billing area next to the pharmacy.



One of the most interesting aspects of the pharmacy was the production of IV fluids.  I am shown here helping in this process. In the United States, these solutions are specially produced and sold in plastic bags. In this hospital, the IV fluids are made by the pharmacy staff. This includes 5% dextrose in water, normal saline, and Ringer’s lactate. The production area is three separate rooms with small windows connecting them to push the materials through. The IV fluids are sold in glass bottles and returned after each use. The first room is where the bottles are washed, and the second room is a clean room. The chemicals are mixed in large metal buckets and pumped from a metal drum through a filter into the bottles. The bottles are then sealed with rubber stoppers and sanitized in an autoclave. No part of this process is automated; two or three technicians prepare everything by hand. Even the filter cleaner is prepared on site using pure chemicals and a triple beam balance. The pharmacy staff hope to expand their practice to include compounding when adequate resources are available. My experience at the Nyahahanga Hospital shows how pharmacists around the world have varied and sometimes unexpected roles.

Mentors, Babies, and Malaria

June 10, 2015 by

By Kelsey Feinman

During my time in Tanzania at Nyakahanga DD Hospital, I had the opportunity to see and be a part of the daily activities in both the pediatric ward and the post-operative ward. While in the pediatric ward, the majority of the cases admitted were malaria and pneumonia. Many of the cases brought into the ward are treated symptomatically. Since many diseases have multiple symptoms, many of which overlap, their treatment goals are typically broad. I found the malaria cases to be very intriguing because in the United States malaria is a disease we come into contact with very infrequently. It is so prevalent in the area we worked in, especially since it is malaria season in June. I got to learn about the testing and treatment steps followed for malaria. Another issue that accompanies malaria when it is left untreated for an extended period of time is anemia. When the children diagnosed with malaria, they do a blood test to check the hemoglobin levels. If it is exceedingly low that indicates anemia and the child usually requires a blood transfusion. The blood is collected directly from a family member and transfused after testing to ensure the match and that the anticipated transfusion is free of blood borne diseases.

kelsey2I can be seen here in this picture with Cecilia Kazaura at the hand sanitation station. She was an excellent mentor during my time in the post-operative ward.