Monday, August 17, 2015

Wrapping up in Tanzania

The conference is over, only a few hours left in Tanzania.  My time here was not always easy, but very memorable and so much has happened that I am still tying to process it all. Stepping out of the role of a university student and being a hands-on worker in a medical setting was refreshing. This does not mean I did not learn anything, in fact the opposite is true; I was like a sponge, soaking up information about engineering and culture these past two months.

I now also have the confidence to try to fix and troubleshoot devices. One of our projects involved totally rewiring a surgery lamp which I was hesitant to do at first because I had never done an electronics project of that magnitude. Here is a picture of Camilla with the original lamp insides that took 240V but stepped down to 24V and had 25 Watt special German bulbs. We could not figure out what exactly was wrong, it most likely a bad bridge or transformer so instead of wasting more time, we bypassed everything. We found 220V LED bulbs that could be found in Moshi for a reasonable 10,000 Tsh, ~$5.00 USD and altered the insides so that the bulbs could fit. This means that the hospital can easily replace the bulbs and the lamp will not get hot which is important for the staff in the summer months and long surgery. I really do not know if this surgery lamp will be used but I have hope.
The bottom of the lamp
The final product before we put the top on. You can see the hose clamps we had to use on the bulb holders because they were so much larger. There were not that many options of bulbs in Tanzania.
I made some great friends and really got to know the hospital staff. Below is another picture of Wingod, a student engineer who worked at our hospital. He really helped us out whenever he could and was always eager to learn.
This is me and Head Nurse of Orthopedics, Kwai. We had just returned one of many autoclave boxes we had fixed. These were really small items and simple fixes but they were really important to the hospital. 
I am definitely going to miss my Danish engineering partner Camilla. We had so much fun and kept each other sane with cookie and chai breaks. Due to lack of electricity, we made a lot of bracelets-below you can see our swapped flags-her with american colors and mine with Danish! Even though we came from different parts of the world, engineering and our curiosity to try more brought us together.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Exploring the beautiful Tanzania: pt. 2

Another picture dump! Living somewhat close to Moshi, only an hour away + 1000 tsh (50 cents), I have been spending a fair amount of time in the city. I have gotten to know most of the good hardware shops and coffee shops!

Here is a picture of some food I got in Moshi from the Kilimanjaro Lodge Cafe. All the fresh juices are really good here even though they are more on the expensive side--but well worth it and refreshing.

I usually stop by the Union Cafe, a very foreigner place, but they have awesome coffee and cake! Every so often I crave chocolate, its super expensive here, and the cake makes me feel better.

As for weekend trips- we visited some great waterfalls in Marangu. I even jumped off a decent cliff! while the weather was not the greatest, all of us EWH students had a blast!

This is the one I jumped off of though not as impressive as the first one.
Another great weekend involved camping at Lake Chala. This lake is on the edge of the northern Tanzanian and Kenyan border so we were able to see the sunrise over Kenya. Great kayaking, swimming and food!

Its been awesome to keep in touch with the rest of the EWH students in the second month. The weekends are always filled with lots of friends and seeing more of Tanzania.

And last but not least- here is a picture of Mt. Kilimanjaro from Machame Hospital!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Machame Lutheran Hospital: First Fixes

So now I have gotten into the rhythm of work here at Machame hospital and only really have one week left. Internet is really slow here, and while this is a bad excuse-- it is very difficult to update my blog except when I go into town.

So a little about the hospital: while this is a very small hospital, only about 250 beds, it does have a very good orthopedics department. It also has a large OB/GYN department so there are lots of pregnant ladies waiting around. In this hospital the last month of carrying the baby is free so many Masai women come up the mountain and stay their last month (how they decide its their last month I don't know!). They are all freezing cold because well its COLD on Kilimanjaro and it has been raining like crazy recently.

Camilla and I get up around 6:30 am and have breakfast so that we can walk to church at 7:40 am. Luckily we live in a guest house 5 minutes away on hospital grounds! There they do a quick service and have announcements - all in Swahili but because we go everyday, they know our faces and are much happier to talk with us. Our first fix was a fetal doppler machine (really it just needed batteries, gel and someone to show them how to use it). The OB/GYN nurses are really friendly but we are not sure if they will actually use this machine or if they use any of their infant incubators- all 5 are working.
                                                      Fetal Doppler Machine
 There are a few local technicians that we have been working with. They can do basic electrical fixes and we often go to them if we need something sawed. Here is Camilla and Wingod, a student engineer, after we put together a new bed.

 On a final note, I have noticed that hospitals in Tanzania, Machame especially, are full of contradictions. On one hand you have instances like below which are what people normally think of hospitals in the developing world.
 Then you have parts of the hospital that are fairly nice-- like this awesome lamp and an organized room full of orthopedic supplies. I have a bunch of other pictures of things we have fixed and will be uploading them soon! Only one more week in Tanzania- wow how time flies!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

End of first month: Fixin' more stuff

Hello! Sorry for the late update, I have now moved to Machame Lutheran Hospital on the side of Kilimanjaro and internet has been sketchy here. Before I get into my new adventures, I wanted to share some of my thoughts from my first month in Tanzania.

 "Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don't" I've found that this is a phrase which embodies many things in Tanzania: medicine, electricity and medical devices to name a few. During my 1 month at the EWH: Summer Institute I have have leaned a great many engineering skills, more importantly I better comprehend that a good infrastructure is what makes or breaks your system. Looking at the lowest level, when we were at Mt. Meru hospital for our weekly engineering escapades, I always noticed the gravel roads and spread-out layout of the buildings. I also noted a large number of things with wheels (carts, stretchers, wheelchairs etc) that were piled up in what I called the "medical devices graveyard" AKA the storage room. After the third and final trip I realized there was a correlation between these two things. Due to the unstable ground, the devices needed to move things or people around were breaking. This in turn led to more hassle because these devices were sorely needed for such a spread out hospital. Literally unstable framework of the system was hurting itself. 

As an engineer there is not much immediate action I can take to fix this but I have to be able to recognize the holes in the infrastructure and be able to work around it. Don't have electricity in this room? Get your self a power cord, maybe even a couple. Don't have a manual? Check the Internet and if no luck be extra careful opening the machine with step by step pictures of the process ( and keep track of your screws!). It's been a busy first month but I'm excited to continue with my new knowledge of how medical devices and medical system work in a developing country. Below are some past pictures of my work at Mt. Meru hospital.

This is the room that I posted in an earlier post, it has now been organized! While I suspect it will be filled with more junk, it was a very satisfying project.
Here is a picture of a suction pump we revived! Luckily the motor was still good and it just needed new tubing.
Be on the lookout for more posts about my time in Machame!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Masai Village Time!!

At the end of our safari we visited a Masai village. They did a greeting dance, showed us their tiny huts and sold us some of their wares. My engineering partner Camilla was able to get some great photos that we want to share!

 Showing us how they make fire - with just a stick, wood and dried grass.
 They can start herding cattle at 5 years old!
 They really liked camilla's camera and kept trying to grab it.

I know parts of it was highly altered for tourists (especially things they were selling) but it boggles my mind how they live. The father of the village can have many wives- all depending on how many cows he has. Each women has to make their own hut, by hand, out of wood and mud which all her children stay in and sometimes the man of the settlement joins. The one we visited had seven huts for seven wives and all the children were running around outside herding cattle (gaahh- so cute wish I could share all the photos of them!). They said their diet consists of cow meat, blood, marrow and sometimes ugali (a grain porridge). It was like dropping into another world which was an amazing experience (but I am not sure I would want to continue living there).

Safari Time!!

Last weekend I went on a two-day safari, the first day to Lake Manyara and on the second day we went to Ngorongoro. The conservation area of Ngorongoro is amazing because it is a huge ancient hollowed-out volcano which is home to thousands of animals. This post will mostly be pictures with credit going to my engineering partner Camilla who had a far superior camera. We drove around with land rovers, poking our heads out to get a glimpse of the vast beauty before us. I was able to see lions and a rhino from far away but do not have great photos of them. As for the rest of the animals. . . here are some photos!

Lake Manyara 
Many, many baboons. This area mostly had impalas, giraffes (too far to get a picture) and zebras.

View of the mountainside from our hotel.        

We got really close to elephants- tembo in swahili. They were very big and had four babies following them around!

Lots of wildebeests (yes that is how it is spelled). . . and then some

Hippos! We stopped to eat by a pool and these guys were constantly popping up for air.

Spotted Hyena. Was just sleeping in the middle of the road. This was the closest we got to hyenas all day.

Lots of ostriches. This is a female ostrich, so much bigger than the males

Lions from afar. Sad we were not able to see them closer but I guess it was safer?

We ended the second day visiting a Masai village but I am saving all my photos for another post because there are so many!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Exploring the beautiful Tanzania

You know you are at the equator when the moon is constantly right above your head! The stars are so beautiful here and the weather is getting a bit warmer. I really wanted to share pictures of the places I have visited the past two weeks. BEWARE: this post is picture heavy. During the weekends we are free to take trips around Tanzania and I have taken full advantage of my time!

The first weekend our whole EWH group visited a coffee farm run by the Chaga tribe- a large ethnic group that inhabits the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We helped make our own coffee from dried beans -YUM. Then we explored the Chaga caves. These are pretty amazing caves made by the Chaga people a long time ago ( took them over 50 years to make) to protect themselves when the Masai tribe attacked. The caves were very strategic with different structures such as holes for warriors to hide in if the Masai came down and hidden chimneys for their fires. (The picture to the right is the lunch they fed us that day- really good!)

Here our guide is showing us the arabica plant- they plant banana trees nearby to shield it from the elements. We took the dried beans and then ground them and mashed them to take off the skins. Then We boiled it for a long time in water and filtered the final product to get a good ole-cupa-joe.

This past weekend we went on a hike to the town of on the side of Mt. Meru. The view was beautiful in the upper farmlands- a whole different perspective on life in Tanzania compared to the city.
The next day we visited Majimoto hot, well warm, springs. You have to trave through these rural villages in the dust and then suddenly- an oasis appears! We got there early and had the whole place to ourselves for a while- taking full advantage of the rope swing. It was very surreal and felt like a trip you see in magazines. Plus there were loads of monkeys in the trees but were super hard to take a picture of!

The weekend trips have been awesome and this weekend I will be going on a Safari!
Kwaheri! Bye!