Sunday, July 22, 2012

New Home

I can't believe I have already been here for 5 1/2 weeks!

We just moved into a new house closer to Arusha to start work at our hospitals.  Half of our group is spread out around Moshi, another town in Tanzania close to Kilimanjaro, but I am living with the Arusha group.  There are nine of us girls living in the same house in Arusha and then working at four different hospitals around the city.  I am working at Tengeru Hospital with Zodina which is about a half an hour commute on the dala dala.

It was so sad moving out of our homestays and the comfortable life we had gotten used to, but I will go back to visit my family during this month!

Family Photo: Daria, John, Mama Glori, Ana, me

We had an interesting first night in the new house though!  It was our new mama's 50th birthday so she told us she was going to throw a "small disco" to celebrate.  Close to 100 people showed up and we feasted outside and learned the african line dance.  It was really fun!  But the most interesting part was that in the afternoon we saw our family slaughter a goat which we ate for dinner!  It was delicious but then we discovered that they eat every part of the goat...even the intestines in the soup.  I think I will stick with the normal meat from now on, but I am glad I tried it.

Tugce and I enjoying our goat!

This weekend has been very relaxing so far.  We spent all of Saturday in Arusha exploring the town more.  We ate lunch at a very good hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant and then did some shopping at the Maasai Market.

Then our friends Lauren and Raelyn from the program who are staying in Usa River came over to our house for dinner and a sleepover!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Snakes, Camels, Cars, and Cooking

I still haven’t written about the adventures of last weekend. 

Friday we went to Mt. Meru hospital again.  In the morning I fixed a centrifuge with Lucy and Ray and in the afternoon I worked on a hospital bed! 

Miguel (our engineering instructor), me, Lucy, Ray

Saturday we went to a snake park with some of our friends, and because we are volunteers in Tanzania instead of tourists, the entrance fee was 2,000 tsh instead of 20,000 tsh! 

We saw a ton of extremely venomous snakes, as well as a refuge area for injured animals including owls, vultures, baboons, and many sizes of both crocodiles and alligators.  Despite my fear of snakes, I held a little one!  But then I started to freak out as it began to move in my hands and up my arm.

Lucy was much braver and let the snake crawl throughout her hair.

But the highlight of the day was that I rode a camel for the first time! 

It was the weirdest feeling having the camel stand up and sit down, so we caught a lot of great faces on camera.

We left the snake park after all of us had ridden the camels and then we waited by the side of the road for a dala dala to pass by.  Instead, we noticed that a big car event was going on just up the road so we walked for about 5 minutes and came upon the Saba Saba Championship Car Rally!  It was really cool to see the cars taking off on the desert portion of the race.

Sunday, we spent the day with family.  We went to church early with our mama and it was interesting to hear a service entirely in Swahili.  The live music and choir were really fun and lively!

We spent the rest of the morning learning how to cook sambusas (the same thing as samosas).  We had a huge feast for lunch!

It was a wonderful weekend!  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Safari Weekend

Sorry for the delayed post but I had a few thousand safari photos to sort through after getting other people’s photos. So here is the story of our safari weekend:

We got picked up early Saturday morning by a caravan of three safari cars (we had a group of 23 people going).  Our first stop was Lake Manyara National Park.  We got there at noon (after having to change a tire on my safari car and later jumpstart the engine after stalling out over a speed bump).  But once we got to the park it was great!  We put the roofs up on our safari cars so we could stand up and see out the top.

Lake Manyara is 300 sqkm, and the lake takes up almost half the space.  No big cats are found at the park but we saw baboons, elephants, water buffalo, hippos, zebra, giraffes, flamingoes, and amazing birds.

We spent the night at a campground/hotel that overlooked the lake and the mountains.  During the dinner they served us, we were surprised with an acrobatics performance (that even included a woman contortionist). 

View from our campsite
Lake Manyara
Lake Manyara
Our hut/tent!

Acrobatics Performance
Sunrise over Lake Manyara

We were planning on heading out at 6:30 am the next morning in order to get to Ngorongoro Crater early.  However, after much beating around the bush, our driver informed us that one of our cars had broken down in the night and we had to wait for a replacement one.  When the new one came it was smaller so we had to squish extra people into the other cars, but finally we were on our way. 

Ngorongoro Crater used to be a volcano that collapsed down into itself.  The animals were able to go down into the crater, but couldn’t get back up the steep slopes, so they all learned to coexist within the 250 sqkm park.  When you enter the Crater, you start on the rim and work your way down steep and windy dirt roads, but the views are amazing.

View of the crater

The crater walls
My safari group the second day

We drove around the park all day and saw wildebeest, zebra, water buffalo, hippo, hyena, flamingo, ostriches, warthogs, weird birds, elephants, and lions.

We finally started the drive out of the crater at about 4 pm.  Again, the views were amazing, but this time we had a little bit of a scare.  When we were about halfway up the side of the crater, the clutch on our car broke and the car stopped.  We quickly got out of the car and walked a little ways up the mountain.  The driver had to roll the car backwards in order to jumpstart the engine, which eventually worked.  But I can now say that I’ve walked through an African National Park! 

It turned out, though, that our adventures wouldn’t stop there.  The driver of the new car we got in the morning stopped in a small town and refused to drive us any farther.  Our drivers couldn’t convince him at all, so they found a private van and paid that driver to take six of us home.  I stayed back with the two working safari cars, and again we went on our way.  About an hour later, the safari car that I was not in broke down.  We turned back to help them, but the van kept going.  This was about 7 pm, so it was getting dark.  The drivers were trying to find a way to patch a hole in the radiator while we were pulled off on the side of the road. 

A couple hours later, they were able to fix the problem with a tea bag Daria found in the pocket of her jacket.  However, the drivers didn’t want any of us students driving in that safari car in case it broke down again in the middle of the road.  So we managed to put all 16 of us in our 8-seater car.  It was cramped an uncomfortable but we didn’t have to sit like that long because about 5 miles later the other car broke down again.  This time we decided to stay put and wait for another safari car they were sending from Arusha to take us back in.  At this point we decided to call the people in the van to see if they had gotten home safely.  Just before we called them, they had been stopped by the police because their driver did not have a license.  Apparently he paid off the policeman and kept driving them back.  However, he did not take them to their homes (like it had been arranged) and instead he stopped in the parking lot of a big shop/grocery store called Shoprite and refused to go any farther.  Everyone got out of the van and walked into a well-known sports bar and called their host parents to pick them up.  Meanwhile we were still waiting on the side of the road.  But when the replacement car finally arrived, my car wouldn’t start.  After jumpstarting the engine, we completed the rest of the drive home.  My mama was waiting up for Daria and I when we got home at 12:30 and had dinner and a hot bath ready.  It felt so good to be home!

When we told the story to our teachers the next day, they simply said “TIA”—“This is Africa.”

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Friday Hospital Visit

Friday started off the weekend well. We had our first field visit to Mt. Meru hospital in Arusha. We spent the morning fixing their broken medical equipment and then had the afternoon off to explore Arusha.

Daria, me, Keerthighaan, and Laura wearing our scrubs!

I worked on fixing an oxygen concentrator with Raelyn.  When we opened it up, everything looked functional so we checked the electrical connections, cleaned it up, and then decided to test it out to make sure it was spitting out concentrated oxygen instead of just normal air.  The only way to accurately test it is to use an oxygen concentrator meter, but most hospitals don't have those.  Therefore, Dr. Malkin's lab came up with a method to test it.  If you light a candle and blow out the flame, the concentrated oxygen should relight the candle.  If the candle does not relight, the the oxygen coming out of the machine is not concentrated enough.  However, we did not have any candles, so we lit the corner of a big piece of cardboard and held it up to the output nozzle.  The conclusion was that the machine did work well!  However, in the process, not only did the cardboard relight, but also the nozzle caught on fire because the cardboard was too close.  Luckily we had a bucket of water close by and were able to put it out before any real damage occurred, but the nozzle still melted (it was plastic).  However, later in the day, we found another oxygen concentrator that was broken beyond repair so we were able to harvest the nozzle and put it onto the other machine.  Successful ending!  We also completely fixed two wheelchairs and another group rewired an OR lamp.

The inside of an oxygen concentrator

We spent the rest of the afternoon browsing the markets in Arusha and locating the hardware stores.  Then we headed home where the tailor came by with our finished skirts and we headed to bed early because we had to get up early the next morning to start our safari.

I will post safari photos and stories in the next couple of days!

Friday, June 29, 2012


The story of our class kitten:

When we were in class on Monday morning we heard a cat meowing and it sounded like it was coming from the roof.  Then as the day went on we kept hearing it meow and we figured out that it was coming from inside the wall because it must have fallen in.  We told maintenance about it and they said they were going to get it out but when we came into class Tuesday morning morning we could still hear it and it sounded even more desperate.  It was so horrible hearing it cry and not be able to do anything.  Finally after talking to multiple people, carpenters came in at lunch and took off the bottom panel of the wall and pulled back the wood.  We then rescued a TINY kitten; she is literally no more than 6 inches long. Before we got him out of the wall we named him Simba (meaning lion in Swahili) and the name stuck.  Even though we later discovered that he is actually a she.  So we gave her some milk and a teacher at the school said she would take her home but the teacher never came back.  So Daria and I took Simba home for the night.  We nursed her Tuesday night (and kept her away from our other kitten Poli who was very jealous) and then on Wednesday morning my Mama’s friend came to adopt her.  We are all so happy to have found a good home for Simba!

Also, Wednesday night, our Mama’s tailor came by the house to measure Daria and I for traditional African skirts she is making from the fabric we bought at Usa River market last weekend.  We are supposed to get them tonight and are super excited!  

The fabric Daria and I bought for our skirts!

Also, Thursday was our last day of Swahili class with our favorite teacher Kisanji.  On Monday we will rotate to another teacher.  Here is a picture of our class:

From left to right: Keerthighaan, Lauren, me, Tuche, Kisanji, Juan, Aman, Daria

Tomorrow morning we are leaving for a 2-day Safari in Ngorongoro Crater and Terengere National Park!  I will post pictures after the weekend! 

Kwaheri (bye)!