Tanzania Safari Weekend
It was a twelve hour journey from Dar to the village. The weather was cold and rainy and we did a lot of extreme driving / trekking in the mud... and they were all put the work. The girls loved it.
On our first morning we went to the CTC Clinic (care and treatment center) to help out. We received over 100 patients (all HIV positive) and the girls were split into teams to take on different tasks (and eventually rotate to try out each job). We did patient registration/recording weight, recorded which medicine patients were receiving (for stocking purposes), and we took on a huge re-filing project to get things a bit more organized.
While we were at the clinic, we broke off into small groups and got tours of the facilities (a lot of which is under construction) and heard about future plans.
We finished up at the clinic around lunchtime and split into two groups to go on home visits. My group visited six homes in a neighboring visit. Everyone we visited is HIV positive - and the point of the visit was to check on the general well being of the individuals and their families. Students were encouraged to ask questions, which they did. The home visits were very powerful for a number of reasons. Some of the individuals were visibly in a state of deterioration, as were their homes. The girls were shocked at their living conditions - especially since TB is a common theme amongst HIV patients and every house we visited had a smoking fire pit. As I said, the weather was cold and rainy and most of the people we visited lived in homes that had gaping holes in the roof, or incomplete walls ... mud floors to sleep on and in some cases, no blankets.
These visits took up the rest of our afternoon on the first day.
On the second day, we went to meet Jenny at the clinic where she was engaged in a Milk Powder distribution program for mothers living with HIV. (it is recommended that HIV+ mothers stop breastfeeding at 6months and there are no milk cows in the village - so milk powder is the next option).
We took a tour of the children's village where there are 6 homes that young children live in, we saw the sewing school (a small income generating project for local women).
From here we split into two groups. one group stayed with the babies to play with them, and the rest of us went back to the clinic to help with the milk powder distribution.
When we finished here, Jenny and Geoff took us to the next village over where there is a mamas group that does basket making for income generation. All of the women in the group are HIV+ .... The girls bought baskets and had the chance to speak with the women who made the baskets to hear their stories.
The girls really got a lot out of the experience and some are planning to go back and volunteer when the program ends in May.