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.
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.
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.
By Dr. Cindy Mailloux, Sarah Brozena, Erica Chambers, Kelsey Feinman, and Ariel Velez
Tonight 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.
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.
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.
By Erica Chambers
Over these past two weeks I’ve had the privilege of volunteering at the care and treatment center at the hospital in Nyakahanga. This center specializes in treatment and counseling services for patients with HIV/AIDS and TB. Like most clinics that specialize in these areas, its mission is to detect and treat early signs of TB. This clinic also provides a lifelong treatment plan for patients living with HIV/AIDS. Their goals are to boost adherence, counsel in family planning, and reduce the stigma associated with HIV. During my visit, my job was to do patient intake. I would measure the patient’s body weight and sometimes height in order to help the nurses to perform the nutritional assessment. I am working on charts with one of the staff nurses in this picture. Over 70 patients come to this clinic on a daily basis, so I was always able to keep busy. I greatly enjoyed my time at the clinic because I was able to learn a lot about various medications for HIV treatment. I will miss my time at the clinic because I made extraordinary connections with the nurses and I was able to practice my Swahili.
By Ariel Velez
During my stay at Nyakahanga district hospital, I have been working with the staff at the R.C.H healthy baby clinic. It has been a wonderful experience. At R.C.H, my day usually starts by getting all the vaccinations we anticipate to need for the patients. Once all the vaccines and syringes have been packed, we walk over to the maternity ward. In the maternity ward, we would vaccinate newborns for polio and tuberculosis. While I draw up the injections, Dennis Chilolo (shown in picture with Ariel) and staff would be educating the mothers about the diseases and why it is important to vaccinate the infants. After the education counseling is done, we administer the vaccinations and document the records. Then we would walk to the rest of the wards and administer Tetanus vaccines on patients who had accidents and injuries. I was very surprised by the volume of patients who came in for vaccinations everyday. On some days, some of the staff of R.C.H went to rural villages to vaccinate and weigh babies. I was so happy I had the opportunity to attend. Overall, working with the staff from the R.C.H healthy baby clinic was a rewarding and fulfilling experience.
By Dr. Cynthia Mailloux
Today we went to visit the Ntimba family. Dr Winkler became friends with Jonathon Ntimba when he was the accountant for Nyakahanga Hospital in Karagwe. We were delighted to receive an invitation to their family home in a rural village. We arrived and were welcomed into the home with many of Jonathon Ntimba’s family members present. Family is incredibly important in Tanzania. Family members live near each other and maintain many traditions, and ties within the extended family. We met almost all of Jonathon Ntimba’s siblings starting with his eldest brother and the oldest member of the family. This man, Mzee Pastor Ntimba is held in very high regard. He delighted us with a story about bringing a light to a new neighbor to enlighten their stay in rural Africa.
Tanzanians are noted for their hospitality. We were offered water or soda, prayed and sang songs in Swahili. We then were given a tour through the grounds of the family Shamba (gardens) taking in the beautiful landscape, coffee bean plants and banana and papaya trees. We returned to the house and enjoyed tea and coffee with many African delights such as peanuts, goat meat, pineapple, sweet potato and white potato chips. Loyce, Jonathon’s wife had prepared a heart cake symbolizing the love between the two groups. We sang again and exchanged brief words among each other. Loyce then offered each of us a small decorative mat with our name and date of the visit weaved into it. They were beautiful and we were all really touched by this gesture of kindness. Each mat required two days to make. We exchanged good byes and left with a memory of the hospitality that is continuously experienced by us in this wonderful country of Tanzania.
We spent Saturday traveling through the countryside and a wildlife preserve area to the Rwandan border. Our main destinations were Baramba Secondary School for Girls and Rusoma Falls along the Rwanda-Tanzania Border. Rusuma Falls marks the point along the Kagera River where the river enters Tanzania. The Kagera River is the ultimate source of the Nile River, winding its way to Lake Victoria between Tanzania and Uganda where it feeds into the headwaters of the Nile. Historically, Rusoma Falls marks the point where the outside world became aware of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 as bodies floated down out of Rwanda into Tanzania through Rusoma Falls. Wilkes pharmacy student Sarah Brozena can be seen here on the bridge over the falls and the Tanzania-Rwanda border.
Baramba Secondary School is testimony to the incredible value of investing in the education of girls. As in the past, our group was warmly welcomed by Father Bambara, who founded the private boarding school for high school girls and the Head Mistress Irene Matovu. The vision of Father Bambara is shaping the future of this region. East Africa is experiencing both economic and population growth. The young women that we met at the school will be the future leaders of their countries. Equally (or perhaps more) important, in the local cultural tradition, they will be the primary care givers in their households for their children and the next generation. Their education provides a critically important investment in the future. And, as in many parts of East Africa, the past is linked to the future with traditional dance being included in the school activities at Baramba. The secondary school girls here in this picture are doing a demonstration of a dance from nearby Rwanda as part of a program to welcome us.
Our two+ hour trip took us along the edge of Rigiri Wildlife Preserve, providing us a mini-safari at no cost. We spotted monkeys (nyani) over and over on the road ahead of us and shared binoculars to get a better look before they scatted into the grasses as we approached in the vehicle. Then, we were all delighted when our driver spotted a pair of giraffes (twiga) directly along the road. They placidly grazed while we watched and took pictures. I have taken this road several times before but have never spotted giraffes before. We all took it as a sign of positive karma and a safari njema kweli (truly fine trip).
by Ariel Velez
Mavuno is a non-governmental organization in the United Republic of Tanzania. This NGO was started about two decades ago by a group of local men who wanted to make a difference in their community. Mavuno’s aim is to provide support to vulnerable and needy families in rural areas of Karagwe and Kyerwa. They do this by working with families in development through a cooperative with the aim of identifying their socioeconomic problems and empowering them to find solutions. Over the years, the Mavuno project has developed a variety of programs to assist the community. These programs include farmer training, farmer enterprise development, bee keeping, rain water harvesting, supplying basic school needs for poor children, the construction of an all girls secondary school, and a microfinance program which provides small amounts of credit for women to meet their needs.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the construction sight of Mavuno Girls Secondary School. It was astounding. So far, the campus consisted of several beautiful houses for the teachers, a large storage building, several large classrooms, about eight large water tanks (see photo), and a gas production system using agricultural product decomposition. The houses were built to attract good teachers and their families. Each house includes two bedrooms, a large living room leading into an outdoor space, a kitchen and dining room, pantry and bathroom. The classrooms were spacious and had beautiful mountain views. This secondary school will offer forms one through six. Each form will have a maximum of forty seats, which equates to a total of two hundred forty students. Another great part of the secondary school is the water tanks and gas production system. The water tanks harvest rain water from the roofs, filter it with a flush system, and store it. The gas system uses kitchen waste, manure, and banana leaves to create methane gas, which is then used for cooking.
One of the most attractive features of Mavuno secondary school in my opinion is the big storage building. This building is used to store all the crops of the campus, and sell them by bulk for a better price. Mavuno means outcomes in Swahili. Over the years, this organization has spread from one village to nine. This demonstrates how much the name Mavuno fits the project.