Siminjiro District, Middle of Nowhere.. Tanzania

Moshi Travel Blog

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Transplanting Trees

The Outback- Oh, wait that was Australia... I mean the Bush, Tanzania... We just returned from 14 days out at Siminjiro Living Water Mission in Bush, Tanzania. It is a mission set up by a German water engineer about 6 hours drive from Moshi during the dry season, or 4 DAYS drive during the rainy season!

We found out "Papa" (the German water engineer/missionary who is 75 years old) was heading out to the mission at 7pm the night prior to his departure. So, we had NO time to prepare! We were told to bring an emergency supply of food, but at that late hours, the shops were closed. So, I baked a batch of snickerdoddles and we headed to bed. 

We met Papa the next morning and completely filled out the Toyota with all sorts of supplies (he comes to town every 14 days for supplies).

Ezra.. with his usual stern look
We had flour, medicine, shovels, etc, plus 2 more people. We were pretty much sandwiched in between people and supplies on the craziest, bumpiest ride of our life! I think I lost a kidney in my lung- it was that bumpy!

We left Moshi at 0645 and by noon we were already starving. I quickly realized our emergency supply of cookies was not going to last the full 14 days. We stopped in a village around 2 pm for lunch, but were told that if we didn't want to be holed up in the toilet for the next 5 days we better only order the warm coke. OK, I'm not too fond of the bathroom and so I got the warm coke.. and broke intot he emergency snickerdoodle stash- only 7 hours into our 14 day trip. What can I say, I was HUNGRY!

Back on the road, we saw baboons, wilderbeast, zebras and tons of gorgeous birds.

The baboons were traveling in a pack of about 10. They sotod on 4 limbs and were taller than man. We also passed tons of children who would run along side the vehicle to get a glimpse of the 3 "wazoongo" inside.

We arrived at the mission sometime around dinner. Our first stop was at the hospital to drop off medical supplies. The hospital had one patient when we arrived, a 3 year old boy named Halidi who was home alone with his 8 year old brother and 6 year old sister when we sustained a burn injury to his R arm and R torso. His mother had run away from the family so the dad was working the the 8 year old is in charge of the family. He was making chai for the kids and somehow the hot chai was spilled on Halidi. This is him in the picture.

DAY 2: So, Ben and I split up to do our separate work.

The 5 year old girl from the Booma that the they wanted me to 'fix'
I went to the hospital and Ben went to help transplant trees. At the hospital, I saw a little under 10 patients during the 1/2 day I worked. 1st, we cleaned Halidi's wound. Then came the Masai Mama with complaint of a rash X 2 years, a few children with suspected malaria, body aches, strep throat and a 25 day old baby with a common cold. I was told I would be out there working with a Tanzania doctor who could teach me about tropical diseases and the such, but guess what. There was NO doctor, just me and 3 nurses. Also NO lab, IV, or Xray.. Just a weird mix of medication.

DAY 3: I really have no clue what Ben does during the day, so you are stuck hearing about my day! Again, Halidi's wound was cleaned and we saw patients until 1 pm. The Masai wait until the last minute, until their child is near death, and then walk the few hours to the hospital.

Visiting the boomas
That was really frightening for me because once they arrived they were quite sick! Here I am, no IV, no lab, no drug dosing books, and REALLY sick babies! I prayed ALOT this past 2 weeks. (Actually woke up praying for kids because I was afraid they would die during the night) We saw a 4 mo old baby with suspectd malaria and treated with 24 hours of IM Quinine then switched to oral. In the afternoon Papa took us to a few Boomas (Masia mini village which consists of the immediate family.. The husband, his 3+ wives, his brother and his multiple wives and two trillion children) to deliever food to some families who were without. When we arrived in the first Booma the people heard the word 'doctor' and immediately brought a 5 year old girl who was ill. The story I received was.
. She has been sick for three years with an illness that is worse at night keeping the family up all night and has numerous visits to the large government hospital in Arusha (big town). The doctors have run multiple tests and such and can not find a reason for her illness. So, since I am white and a doctor they really thought I could just look at her and tell them what is wrong.. no lab, no stethascope, nothing! I was so sad to disappoint them, but I am definetly NOT that good! So, i did the only thing I knew to do.. I ran and hide in the Toyota, nah, I told them I don't know and we all prayed for the girl. She was terrified of us though, and barely let me touch her. She actually jumped away from me and started crying when I first reached out to her.
Mamas MAKING gravel for the new building on Papa's mission
Many of hte children in the Boomas have never seen a white person here, so they were very afraid of us. Many cry when we go to shake their hands! Ben equates it to how we might act if we saw a flourescent green person! OK, flourescent green would probably freak me out too!

DAY 4: We woke with dic dics in the yard today. They are these really small deer that are way cute. Saw more patients at the hospital. Few with bacterial conjunctivitis, a Masai Mama with chronic, unresolving respiratory symptoms and mouth ulcers. Unfortunately, I am assuming it to be HIV related, but we can not test out her. AIDS is wiping out whole Masai communities. In the afternnoon we headed to 3 Boomas to bring food (the rainy season is just starting, so for the past 6 months no crops have grown- people are hungry.

Masai Mama leading the way to her booma for us to drop off food
The main food is milk with a small amount of maize to make a porrage) In one of the Boomas, a boy touched my arm.. then LITERALLY jumped 2 FEET in the air backwards to get away from me! Many would come behind me to touch my hair or my skin if I wasn't looking. All the Masai girls keep their head shaved.. and here I am with 3 different colors in my hair. They were all in awe! In another Booma, a 12 year old girl wanted me to take a picture of her and her son! Her SON! Hello, what ever happened to playing with Barbies.. She's playing with the real thing! She is already married away to an old man and most likely she has already had a female circumcision. It is so tragic. In that same Booma the people brought a 5 year old disabled child to me to see if I could fix her (white doctor syndrome).
The BEAUTIFUL girl and one of her kids!
The girl is pictured. AGAIN, we told them it is up to Jesus, I can do nothing. We prayed for the girl before leaving. In the last Booma, I met a 16 year old girl with 2 children. She IS BEAUTIFUL. I said, "Nice to meet you" and she repeated it back to me! I wanted SOOO much to throw her in the Toyota an take her home with me so she could have a normal 16 year old life, not be the 3rd wife of some man with 2 kids living on a dirt floor suffering from infection and malaria every other month of her life!

DAY 5: At the hospital we treated a 1 mo old with pneumonia, a 3 year old with malaria & pneumonia, and an 11 year old girl with a UTI. There were others too, just with more common issues. We again left for some boomas in the afternoon. I was quite suprised to see the BEAUTIFUL 16 year old girl again, in another booma.

The kids
(The boomas are close and families are intermarried and dispersed so lots of visiting going on) I got out of the Toyota and she came up to me and clearly said "nice to see you"! It was SO cute. Again, I longed to keep her! When we arrived back to the mission I was suprised to find out Rahel, the manager/mother/worker, had another little girl in her house. (She has 2 boys. When the youngest, Ezra, was born the mother bleed out and died. So, the father put him in the corner of the mudhut and left him to die. A previous doctor here heard of this baby who was near death and went and rescued him. the staff nursed him back to life and 3 months later the father came to the mission with the older brother, Elisha, and said 'why did you take one and not the other.
The little girls carrying the babies.. don't know if their kids or their brothers/sisters!
. I can't afford either... take this one too'. So, they did. That was 2 1/2 years ago.) Now, back to the little girl, Sarah. Sarah is 3-4 years old, a Masai, and the 3rd of 4 children of her 20 year old mother. The mother brought her and gave her to Rachel because "I don't need her, I have 3 more at home"! Can you believe that!! I was shocked almost to tears that someone would just passively give away a kid because they have more at home. No lie! I could not believe it.

DAY 6 - Sunday: We went to the Assemblies of God church here in the village. Ben adn I walked in to the small cement building and sat on the right side. We had the 3 kids with us and as always, we were the object of everone's stares. We thought it was our skin, as always, but soon realized that as others walked in all men sat on the LEFT and the women on the RIGHT. Here Ben, a man, is sitting on the female side of the church! Whoop! I asked one of the evangelists this week why that was and he explained that the African men want to be put first so they separate even in church. Therefore, the men can give offering first, have communion first and greet the pastors first. When chruch was over (3 hours of Swahili and Masai later) everone files out (men 1st of course!) and shakes hands with the line of people that exited prior to them then stand at the end of the line. So, since we didn't know this, we waited until last to leave. That left us walking out and shaking a line of hands about 80 people long! (I hope everyone washed up after!) After church a crusade started in the village aimed at the Masai people. we headed down to check it out. It was put forth by 7 masai passtors with someone inturperting in Swahili (for the local villagers). These masai pastors are from both Kenya and Tanzania and have a burden to reach their people group. We missed the mornign preaching and arrived when the pastors broke for food. So, all these Masais were standing around.. lingering.. and here come 2 wazoongos! ALL the kids RAN over and stood as close as they feared to us. (Most at least 8 feet away) They wanted to be close enough to exam us, but not so close we could catch them and EAT them or anything! So, with about 50-60 kids encircling us what were we to do? Play duck-duck-goose of course! So, I taught the group of kids how to play and joined the circle. It was funny...Kids.. sometime are not that clever. At one point I heard them all speaking Masai .. blah blah blah wazoongo. So I got the heads up that the current goose was going to pick me..and I was right .. and I was prepared! It was fun! Even all the adults were standing around watching and laughing! Well, the crusade started up around 3 pm (went past 11 pm) and it was awesome. Swahili/Masai music blaring, Masai dancing, one guy playing his leg like it was a guitar, another boy doing cartwheels to praise God and old men waving branches! Too awesome!

(I will down load pictures tomorrow!)

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Transplanting Trees
Transplanting Trees
Ezra.. with his usual stern look
Ezra.. with his usual stern look
The 5 year old girl from the Booma…
The 5 year old girl from the Boom…
Visiting the boomas
Visiting the boomas
Mamas MAKING gravel for the new bu…
Mamas MAKING gravel for the new b…
Masai Mama leading the way to her …
Masai Mama leading the way to her…
The BEAUTIFUL girl and one of her …
The BEAUTIFUL girl and one of her…
The kids
The kids
The little girls carrying the babi…
The little girls carrying the bab…
photo by: joseph98