The past five days have been absolutely amazing.
Day 1: We went to a hot spring about an hour away and just swam around in the water.
Day 2: We left super early to start off our 4 day safari adventure. We drove for about 3 hours to the Tarangire National park and saw a few animals like elephant, lions, and giraffes. We then ate a “bush lunch” out in the park pretty much right next to an elephant. We then drove out of the park and into our campsite where we slept in tents and peed in the woods.
Day 3: We got onto the road pretty early and headed out to the Nguronguro national park. This was by far my favorite day because we got to see a real dad lion. We also were watching a few cubs tear apart a wildebeest when all of a sudden one of the cubs pulled out this tiny wildebeest and my friend Amy screams to everyone watching (I’m pretty sure all 9 safari cars could hear) “omg the pregnant wildebeest kid!!” She continued to say funny comments like that and made the trip a lot more fun. We also saw the great migration which was pretty freakin insane. Wildebeest are overpopulated and need to chill with the baby wildebeests. We then headed back to our campsite which was now next to a lake in the Serengeti National Park.
Day 4: We all survived our first night in the Serengeti. We got back into our super sick safari cars and drove into the middle of the Serengeti. It rained an unreal amount and all the dirt roads turned into little ponds. If there was one day that j didn’t think I would survive till the end it was this one. It was pouring rain and our driver was driving like a crazy man ( his name was Hamza and I honestly loved him but he did scare me a few times.) Finally, we made it to the middle of the Serengeti and it stopped raining and I stopped shitting my pants. We saw three cheetahs and then scurried on out of there. Once we got back and it started to get dark this lady told us that we needed to be quiet because a lion pride was about to walk by. Abby and I shared a little tent together on the outside of the tent circle so we were definitely the first ones to die if a lion pride stumbled upon us. We went to bed listening to lions grunt to each other and it was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done.
Day 5: Still alive. Still no shower. Still peeing in bushes. We got back in our super cool cars and drove to the bottom of the Nguronguro crater. Driving down was a bit scary with all the switchbacks but it really was beautiful. At the bottom we ended up seeing the magical and sacred “black rhino” (still don’t know the difference between a white and black rhino). It was really great and then we left and drove 6 hours home and stopped at every single gift shop imaginable.
All the animals we saw: lions, cheetahs, warthogs, zebras, giraffes, elephants, hyenas, vultures, hippos, antelope, wildebeest, buffalo, dung beetles, baboons, camels, ostrich, leopard, these mini deer things, and a bunch of birds.
Summary: overall, it was such an incredible four days in the Safari and I will never forget what a wonderful experience it was. I can’t wait to go back and do it all over again.
Ps. I now have to write all these on my phone so they might have major grammatical errors in them.
Today was our last village for our first week of clinics. This village was so beautiful and we set up in this little courtyard in the middle of the school. It was surrounded by a big church and beautiful gardens. In the morning I worked with Maggie again at the pharmacy filling out the prescriptions she would yell at me. Let me tell you, medicine names are complicated as shit and then when someone is yelling you them in Swahili it can get a little scary. But we still had fun and got all 200 patients their medication. That means that just today between both clinics we helped around 400 people. The village we were in today was right next to the village that Maggie was born and raised in. She knew some people and both her parents came to the clinic to be seen by the doctor. It was really neat meeting them and it made everything seem a lot more personal because I felt like I was helping someone I knew. At the end of the day Maggie told me that she would miss me and had a fun time yelling medicine names at me. I really admire her and all her hard work and hope that I can be as generous and selfless as she is.
In total this week we helped around 1,000 people in remote villages access medical care. Thank you again to all of those people who supported me and made this happen for so many people!
January 16, 2016
We set up our clinic today in a new village in and around the local church which was right next to the village school. Once we were set up all the teachers dismissed the student like a pack of hungry wolves looking for some prey except the wolves were Africa school kids and the food was us. We handed out tons of tooth brushes to all the children and played with them until they went back to school. By this time there was already at least 40 people waiting to be seen by the doctors. By the end of the day we had helped 160 patients just in our clinic (our group is split into 2 groups so we can visit more villages so, in total we helped around 300 people in one day). During the morning I was a part of the triage team where I took vital signs on very confused Africans. Then we ate rice and veggies on the bus which is honestly starting to get real old. In the afternoon I shadowed one of the doctors while he helped many patients. I’ve been a little nervous about the whole doctor shadowing thing after the last incident that happened senior year of high school when I tried to shadow a nurse (if you don’t know the story it ends with me passed out on the ground). But everything has been going fine and I’ve really enjoyed watching the doctors and have learned a lot. There was one woman who definitely was struggling a lot while her daughter walked her into the room (seriously this room was the size of a dog crate with 6 people in it). The old woman was epileptic and fell into a fire during one of her seizures. She burned her foot so badly that she had to go to the hospital and get a skin graft. Now the foot is infected because all she had to protect the graft was a cloth that she hadn’t been changing or cleaning. She has to go to the hospital to get the graft redone but it might not be successful again because she cannot keep it clean. I just couldn’t believe the unfortunate events that are happening to this woman and it really broke my heart. Currently, I’m complaining about a little bit of heart burn while this woman doesn’t doesn’t have a foot (smh).
Everything has been going really well and I really really enjoy it here in Tanzania. The people are really nice (which sucks because all I can say in Swahili is hello and I usually get all the different hello’s mixed up and offend all the cute old people). I’m really starting to get used to the pole pole life style. Pole pole is a common phrase used in Tanzania which means slowly slowly. Well let me tell you, everything and everyone is freaking slow around here but I actually am starting to appreciate everything a little more.
January 14, 2016
Today we set up our second clinic in a village about 45 minutes away from our hotel. I was stationed at the breast examination room. A few patients came in but for most of the time I sat and spoke with the nurse, Maggie. I asked her a lot of questions about her life and she asked about mine as well (yawn). In summary, she told me that she has 1 child of her own and 5 orphans that she took into her home. She also supports her sisters, her sister’s 6 kids, and her parents (could you imagine supporting 14 people?). Before all of this happened she went to medical school in South Africa and eventually moved back to Arusha to become an ICU nurse at the local hospital. She expressed how she longed to be in America but unfortunately it’s very expensive and she is the only “breadwinner” of her family and divides her money between so many people. Maggie said to me, “If I could go to America I would be very grateful.” Maggie works so hard every day to support so many people and deserves to make it to a better life. I wish there were more Maggie’s in the world.
January 13, 2016
Today we drove about an hour into the town that we will be setting up our medical clinics in. Ghetto bus is slow rollin but we made it there safe and sound. The driver dropped us off at what looked like a trail head and we walked for about an hour through the village. This morning was dedicated to showing us the reality of how far people have to walk to get to where our clinic will be set up. They basically walk for miles to get there… meanwhile in Downingtown I could have a doctor come to me, I could drive, I could take an ambulance, I could literally get there without having to move a muscle BUT on a positive note the Tanzanians must have great fitbit scores. After that, we walked to a beautiful waterfall and swam around for some time. We then hiked back to the top and ate a beautiful lunch that our hotel packed us around 2pm. I opened one of the containers and omg there was a fish head. Like a fish head floatin around in some potatoes and god knows what else. Once we were all done absolutely stuffing our face with wonderful food the director of our group gave the leftover food to a group of boys sitting across the field from us. They told us that this was their first time eating today. Well let me tell you, I have already had a pancake, 4 slices of pineapple, 3 slices of mango, two Nutella toasts, a heaping pile of mashed potatoes, peas, carrots, kale, and spaghetti. If this didn’t put things into perspective for me then I really don’t know what will.
Update: 1. It’s not the hotels fault that the power goes out 7 times a day, it’s just a thing in Tanzania. 2. Swahili is really hard to understand
Today we drove into “Moshi Town” to exchange our dollars for shillings, go to the art market, and get clean water. At our first stop most of us were sitting in our ghetto bus when we looked out and a family visiting from Dar Es Salaam was waiting at the bus stop. A little girl from the family came running onto our bus and quickly introduced herself to everyone. Her name is Catherine and she is 11 year old. Catherine explained to everyone on the bus that she had a dream to become a woman who changes her country. She wanted to do that by becoming a lawyer for human rights and open foundations so that she can see every child in Africa be happy. Her name is Catherine and she is 11 years old. When I was 11 years old I was thinking about whose mom was going to drive my friends and me to the local ice skating rink on Friday night so that we could show off my new skinny jeans to all the boys. I could not believe that this girl said this. Catherine is truly gifted with such a beautiful heart and for her to explain her ideas to a bunch of strangers on a bus has inspired me to express my passions and pursue my dreams. In the future, whenever I feel disconnected from the world I will remember Catherine’s dreams and never take for granted the opportunities I have to make other people’s lives better.
January 11, 2016