Category Archives: Tanzania
After 20 hours flight time without issues, our team arrived at Kilimanjaro International Airport. From the airport we traveled an hour by bus to the town of Arusha. Our exhaustion was fueled with adrenaline and we were all so happy to turn anticipation into reality.
If the location of Tanzania seems a little fuzzy to you, a point of reference is Jane Goodall who made her home here studying the chimpanzees. It’s also a trivia buff’s answer to, “Where is the tallest mountain in Africa?” You get an extra point if you can also name Mt. Kilimanjaro, which we missed seeing from our airplane because of the night time darkness. And that beautiful gem called Tanzanite, discovered near Arusha, can only be found here in Tanzania.
Tanzania lies on the equator. However, since the town of Arusha lies on the side of Mount Meru, which towers outside our hotel window at an elevation of 4600 feet, the temperatures resemble a typical Minnesota summer day.
They speak Swahili here, tho English is readily used. The CSI team has Tanzanian interpreters to bridge the language gap and ensure accuracy in a field where there is no room for error. In the meanwhile, a quick “Habari” hello made us feel kind of cool for the moment.
It’s going to be a big day today as we will meet the local medical staff, lay out our plans for the week, and screen patients to determine if they are candidates for surgery. We can hardly contain our smiles, just like some of our new little patients will soon be able to do too.
~ Susan McMullan, CSI Medical Records
As you are reading this, Children’s Surgery International volunteers are on their way to Arusha in Tanzania, Africa. Although CSI has been changing lives for children in third world countries for 17 years, this is CSI’s first trip to Tanzania.
Our 25 volunteers are focused on a specific mission at Arusha Lutheran Medical Center (ALMC): Teaching local doctors to perform surgeries and care for children with urological abnormalities, cleft lips and palates, and other head and neck abnormalities. In addition, our skilled nurses will work side by side with local Arusha nurses to help reinforce and build their skills.
Our surgeons will perform nearly 60 procedures free of charge on children who may otherwise never have this life-changing opportunity. In tandem, the Arusha medical team will gain hands-on experience as they become more self-sufficient. CSI plans to return to Tanzania regularly for the next several years to continue to teach and reinforce our work. Ultimately, we want to volunteer ourselves out of our jobs.
CSI’s journey of starting our surgical mission at a new site began long before our flight. Hundreds of volunteer hours combined with generous donations made this surgical trip possible. Our clinical lead, Norie Wilson, and CSI Medical Director Dr. Dave Tetzlaff visited ALMC in 2017 and determined this was a good fit for CSI. Volunteers packed and pre-shipped dozens of boxes of medical supplies to use this week and donate to our partners in Arusha. Temporary licenses were secured for medical volunteers, and flights and accommodations were arranged. To all who made this possible, our gratitude is deep.
This Minnesota-based, volunteer-driven organization has captured my heart. I’m a wide-eyed first-time volunteer whose job is to bring the stories home. I have the fire and desire to be a part of a team that can change the life of a child in a resource-poor environment. This child may be ostracized, isolated or rejected from society because of a medical condition that can readily be reversed. This is what CSI is all about.
Asante sana (thank you very much) to ALMC for opening your doors to us so that together we can change children’s lives.
Susan McMullan, CSI Volunteer