postheadericon Lions, Cheetahs and Wildebeests and Zebras and more Wildebeests …. just walking

Everyone on the team participated in the optional safari and no one was disappointed!  Serengeti Select guides, Alex and Stephan, took us to Tarangire, Ngorongoro Conservation Area (the 8th wonder of the world!), Lake Ndutu, and the Serengeti Southern plains.  We saw the beautiful sites of Tanzania and many varied species of animals, some encounters a little too close for comfort.  We had the excitement of having lions and elephants in our camp at night, but thanks to the “Maasai Lion Man,” we were safe and sound.  Two of the sites had open air tents so we could see and hear the sights and sounds of the night all night long.

This is the season for the biggest wildebeest and zebra migration through Ndutu and Southern Serengeti.  It is also the the season for the wildebeest to drop their young, up to 300-400K calves within 2-3 weeks!   Unfortunately (or fortunately for some) this also means we saw a couple encounters with their predators, a cheetah and a lion.    The babies can stand up within 2 minutes and run within 5.  We got to witness a couple of these miracles!  The migration is referred to as the “World Cup of Wildlife.”

We also saw a variety of birds, rhino, dung beetles, vultures, storks, bush bucks, cheetahs, water-buck, mongoose, zebras, African elephants, hyrax, eagles, dik dik, baboons, giraffes, gazelles, serval cats, hippos, and hyenas.

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postheadericon Hope for the Future

Last week we visited the MaaSAE Lutheran Girls School sponsored by Operation Bootstrap Africa (   We have provided and set up used laptops in the past and had some additional laptops for the school that arrived on the container.

This school is critical for MaaSAE girls as the Headmaster Dr. Smsinjili explained because it gives them economic independence in a culture where the biggest challenge is forced marriages and a life of servitude.  Girls are legally protected for primary school but secondary school is usually not an option as parents do not want to waste their resources when she will be leaving the family anyway and they will receive a dowry of cattle as soon as she is married off.

Dr. Smsinjili shared stores of how many of girls end up in the school.   Most are on scholarship or sponsored by a specific donor.  The girls come directly from primary school immediately after their final exam. The school does not tell the parents because they don’t want them to be able to stop them from coming and many times the girls don’t know even though most have a dream of going to secondary school.   In some cases, the girls have gone home after their exam and are married within a day at the age of 13 or 14.   If the parents come to the girls school the police are called because the girls are protected as soon as they start.  Parents used to send warriors to take the girls out by force but this practice has stopped with the involvement of the police.

The girls are able to go home after they are assured of their safety.  They work closely with the family and the village to help them understand why they are in school and why it is important.  They do not dream of completely converting the family but hope for the conversion of the next generation.

The girls we met dream of becoming doctors, chemists, and teachers.  They are the hope for the future!


postheadericon Improving and waiting and watching

In preparing to install the medical air compressor, the SCL Health Biomed team laid the system out and determined what fittings were needed.  Kevin Deitsch and I then went shopping for fittings.  If you were to need threaded pipe nipples for a project in the US, you would determine what sizes you need and then go to the hardware store to purchase them.  It works a bit different in Tanzania where you have to go to a pipe store and the proprietor will take a piece of galvanized pipe, thread one end and then cut it off at the length you want and then thread the other end ….. and then continue this process for each individual fitting…..all while you wait and watch….very patiently….   Part of the challenge of completing projects in Tanzania is that many of the parts that are readily available in the US are not available here and it requires a lot of improving!  However, even with the challenges this project has, when completed it will make a huge impact to healthcare in Tanzania.  It will allow them to perform life sustaining procedures such as the use of mixed gas therapy on infants and ventilation therapy on both adults and infants.  That is well worth a bit of running around and waiting patiently (like Tanzanians) for parts to be made!

By Dan Ritter

postheadericon Day-O for Deo


postheadericon A Shining Light in the NICU

Napir is a story of success and an example to women of what they can achieve.  She graduated a few months ago with the first class at the ALMC nursing school after attending the MaaSAE girls secondary school and now is one of the most dedicated and skilled nurses in the NICU.  When I found her today, she was showing off her baby she has been caring for that was born at 600 grams 2 weeks ago and is now up to 720 grams.  She gained 40 in just the last two days!  Napir is thrilled and has been working with the mother who comes every 2 hours to feed her baby girl.

From Napir –   After completing my secondary education I gained more interest and passion in nursing in order to help those communities residing in the remote areas of the rural country side. I grow-up and nurtured within a rich cultural-tradition of the Maasai community and/or ethnic group of which I realized many health challenges that requires critical minds to interrogate. In fact in the Maasai socio-cultural domain there are few or not at all dispensaries or health centers. The few available are lacking facilities for diagnosis as well as human power and as such many people are suffering even greater risks. Those rural settings are highly challenged by a growing number of communicable and non-communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis, pneumonia, tetanus, intestinal worms and amoebic dysentery. Furthermore, diarrhea is common and many people are malnourished. These obstacles to community health are compounded by an inadequate health care system.

Therefore it’s my humble thought that I would be a resource in the future in helping this desperate community. Frankly speaking I personally consider this as a noble cause, as indeed a special calling. It calls for my devotion, commitment and desire to restore good health among patients under care as well as improving community well-being.

I have been able to further redefine my sense of purpose and broaden up my understanding in developing a vision and being able to share and/or communicate it with others.

If the nursing school had not been a possibility for me, I wouldn’t have realized my greatest sense of meaning and purpose in life. I would have simply drifted and flow on the currents of life in the village and may be had been married and bear my children. But in fact the nursing school has unlocked my potential.

My deepest sense of gratitude for all people who have been supporting my education without tire, the only thing that I dare to promise them is th at I will never let them down.

During the course of my studies at nursing school I have been favoring midwifery courses because I am passionate to take a good care of women during pregnancy and childbirth as well as providing the same type of care such as routine examinations, advice and health screenings. As a midwife I would like to learn how to assist and educate during births both at dispensaries and at home. However I would prefer the environment of a home birth. My sole reason is that in the Maasai land, normally as soon as labour begins, women contact their traditional Birth Attendants (TBA’s)  who stays with them through labour and as such, delivery care at home is usually sought as a last resort after serious complications have taken place.

Indeed I would like to share my new learned skills with the community and teaching those traditional birth attendants to have new skills on the best practices. I will explained some of the common labour and delivery complication such as prolonged labour and/or failure to progress, abnormal Presentation, premature rupture of membranes (PROM), amniotic fluid embolism and so on.  I will surely tell them that, these complications are most serious and thus it’s important for the women to deliver at health center for help and quick referral to other hospital if they find out that the situation is more serious.  I will teach TBA’s to become familiar with the said complications.

My long term plans perhaps (10 years) I want to run and manage an entity be it a nursing school or NGO aiming at improving communities health especially in the community health whose living in the remote area. Also my dreams in not only ending in Nursing certificate or Diploma, I wish to go far.


postheadericon Dancing, Teaching, and Basic Life Support

Amy Kreeger gets the “International Creativity Award” for her innovative teaching methods for BLS to about 80 nursing students!

We had 5 stations set up to teach Basic Life Support to the nursing students where they learned different skills from Carol, Connor, Amy, Dr. Chase and Dr. Sato.

Amy considered her young and enthusiastic audience an applied singing and dancing to her teaching method.  Many people came to see what was going on and got to enjoy the show….maybe they learned a little something too!

postheadericon The Container is Here…..

The 40 ft container that was supposed to arrive months ago has finally arrived at 2:00 this afternoon with some of the equipment we need to deploy and do it quickly!  It had been sitting in Dar es Salaam for months waiting to be released.

With the change in government to the new president, Magufuli, there is an increased focus on fighting corruption and improving the lives of Tanzanians.  He has made some significant changes like cancelling Independence Day and using the funds to fight the cholera outbreak instead in part by using the day as a cleanup day in which he actively participated.  He made significant administrative changes at the government hospital recently when he witnessed patients sleeping on the floor.  However, in some cases, this focus on decreasing corruption has caused further complications with importing a container of medical supplies!  There are 10,000 boxes consolidated by Global Health Ministries in Minnesota of items from various donors on the 40 ft. container and every single item had to be entered into the system one by one.  Even if there were 10 of one item, each one had to be loaded individually.  To make matters worse, if the item was not already logged in the master system, it needed to be logged in the master system in order to be logged on our manifest.  This took weeks of tedious effort!  We received word that it was being released in December only to find out much later that the paperwork needed to be submitted again because addresses did not exactly match on where it was shipped and delivered to.

The second container with the x-ray machine and other supplies was shipped in October through the generous donation of a physician that spends half of the year in Tanzania and needed the machine at Selian for the services he performs.

So, as you can see the team is hard at work getting out computers that will be deployed to the nursing school, MaaSAE girls school, and Selian.  Luckily, we are confident the IT department here should be ready to pick up where we have left off.

The crane has arrived and is unloading the portable X-rays which will also be set up and the x-ray printer.

It will be a long evening!

postheadericon The Strength of an Army

Ever since we arrived, Dan Ritter and I both contemplated  how we were going to remove a bad oxygen plant on a raised deck and replace the unit with a new Kaeser compressor; each weighing well over a ton. Where there is a wish, there is a way! We spoke to one of the facilities guys and he arranged for a small army of hospital workers, fundi’s (skilled mechanics and even a delivery person all of which came to our aide. We had a multitude of obstacles; with only a hand truck the team removed the larger of the units (1250 lbs) so that the raised deck could accept the new unit.  The process took the team about an hour to replace both and the new oxygen plant was back in service in four hours.

By Kevin Deitsch

postheadericon Celebrating Our Community

We had the opportunity to take a break from our projects and training to come together with the leadership at ALMC, Selian, and Hospice to celebrate the wonderful work that has been completed thus far and the long standing partnership.  Dr. Jacobson expressed a heartfelt thank you to all of the people who traveled such a long distance and are so committed to helping the people of Arusha and Tanzania overall.  He stressed that the relationships that are being created have moved beyond being colleagues and now we are friends.  The deep sense of gratitude comes from everyone person in the community, including those that traveled.

The relationships that are being created have moved beyond being colleagues and now we are friends.  There were a lot of laughs and a true sense of community.

postheadericon Morning Praise, Worship, and Prayers for the Patients