Tanzania - January 2016
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Sunday 17 Jan 2016
took Liz to the airport this afternoon where she met up with Judy Beckerson,
another 'veteran' of many B2A trips, and Karen Orton, one of the nurses..
The others are flying out from Manchester and they will meet up, for the
first time, in Dubai airport, before flying on to Dar es Salaam, which is
now just the commercial capital of Tanzania, the administrative capital
having moved to the new city of Dodoma back in 1996.
Emirates Flight EK 004 took off from LHR at 20.31 and is due
to land at Dubai at 06.48 tomorrow morning. Whilst she won't be leaving the
airport, Liz is hopeful of seeing the world's tallest building, the Burj
Khalifa (right), from the air. At 829.8 metres, it dwarfs The Shard in
London (the tallest building in the EU) which is a mere 309.6 metres tall.
After her experiences at Istanbul on the way back last year, I think she is
hoping for a quick transition to the flight to Dar es Salaam.
I believe the others are on Flight EK 020 which took off late
from Manchester at 20.55 and is due to land at 07.51 and so they should all
meet up without problems and have plenty of time as the onward flight is not
I will be joining Liz in Tanzania at the end of her B2A work
and so it was very odd, when saying goodbye at Heathrow, to think that the
next time we see each other will be at Kilimanjaro Airport. Bearing in mind
that dentists are now known as 'Doctor'... , and the town of Ujiji is not
that far away, I have my words of greeting ready!
As always, please let me have feedback (email
about this blog and let me know where you
are reading it.
Monday 18 Jan 2016
The Heathrow flight
landed at 06.54 and the Manchester flight landed at 07.36.
I awoke this
morning to find a text from Liz, saying that the flight was great and the
service superb. They are now at Dubai, which she says is wonderful.
Flight EK 725 to
Dar is now due to depart at 11.10 (30 mins late) but they will have plenty
of time at Dar before the final leg to Mwanza. The first leg was about 6 1/4
hours and the next leg is 5 hours.
I also received
this photo from Elaine, one of the nurses from Manchester. I am not sure who
everyone is, (apart from Judy, 2nd from left).
I have had feedback
from a reader in Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands; always strange to know
that people are taking the trouble to follow Liz's trip, wherever they happen
EK 725 took off from Dubai a little late at 10.51 and landed in Dar at 15.11
They had a 4 ½ hour stopover in Dar before
catching the FastJet flight up to Mwanza. Liz texted me from Dar airport to
say that they had managed to get into the Flamingo Lounge, which was nice as
it is VERY humid in Dar.
On the right is
a photo of them doing Pilates exercises in the lounge. I have a note to
point out to Liz's Pilates instructor, Slim, that she is keeping up with the
By the time that
they reach the hotel in Mwanza this evening they will have been travelling
for about 26 hours.
I got a text
from Liz at 19.18 (22.18 in Tanzania) to say that they had just arrived at
the Palace Hotel in Mwanza, where they had been met by
Joyce Mpanduji, the
Programmes Co-ordinator and Moses, the driver whom they had had on a
Nothing more tonight, either
because of lack of signal or, more probably, because they were shattered
after the 3 legs of their journey and the 'culture shock'.
Tuesday 19 Jan 2016
As I probably won't hear
from Liz until this evening, I thought that I would give a bit of background
to this trip and how it differs from Liz's trips in previous years.
There are just three
dentists and two nurses but they will still be training SIX clinical
officers (COs), as in previous trips. The aim, this time, is that they will
be accompanied to the clinics by FIVE District Dental Officers (DDOs), who
will assist in the training of the COs. Each of the DDOs will train one of
the COs, with the UK dentists providing oversight and guidance, as well as
taking it in turns to train the final CO. Don't worry - I found it confusing
at first but the principle is that the charity wants to try to make the
Tanzanian dental community - small though it may be - able to run its own
training courses for rural clinical officers so as to be able to provide
basic dental care out in the remote areas. Tanzania is a vast country and
B2A will still be providing direct training to COs as well as this new
'train the trainer' approach, which is known as PHASE TWO. For more details
Liz's friend Kiaran Weil, a
dentist from Lancashire, went out in the Autumn to deliver the first part of
the training to the DDOs and Liz and the others will be reinforcing the
messages to those same people.
I spoke to Liz in the
evening when they had arrived in Geita, the town where they will be based
for the next 8 days (see map on right). In Mwanza this morning they met Dr
Joseph, the Clinical Director for B2A. Liz had first met him a couple of
years ago when he had been the DDO in Musoma, a town in the North East of
Tanzania. He will join them at the second of their two clinics.
There was a large storm and
so they had to wait 2 hours for the ferry (see map) across the inlet.
Another smaller boat took several of the vehicles, including their own, but
they were not allowed onboard as it was 'a bit dodgy'. They had visions of
their Land Rover sinking without trace into Lake Victoria.
As a result of the delays,
they did not make it to Geita until 16.00. Until last week they had been due
to stay at the Hotel Lenny, which is a new hotel, where Liz had stayed this
time last year but, for various reasons, the arrangements were changed and
they are now in the Hotel Mpiga, which is a lot more 'African'. Armed with
her newly-acquired skills in Swahili (she is doing an evening course at the
School of Oriental and African Studies) Liz told me that this means 'beat'
but it remains to be seen whether this refers to the all-night music or
whether it 'beats' the other hotels - I somehow doubt if it will be the
Tomorrow they will meet the
Regional Dental Officer before driving to the first clinic in Nzera (see
map) which Liz visited in 2011. It will be interesting to see what, if
anything, has changed.
Wednesday 20 Jan 2016
what are the chances of that ? I was searching through Google, looking for
an image of the village of Nzera, when I came across an aerial picture of
the town. The website where this website was to be found ? The blog, on my
own website, of Liz's trip in 2011 ! So here it is again to give you an idea
of the sort of place they go out to.
Today they went to Geita Hospital and met the Regional Dental Officer and
the Regional Medical Officer. They also saw the surgery of the District
Dental Officer who is based there. It has a nice chair but only the suction
unit works and so, whilst he can do extractions, he cannot drill and do any
They also met the Regional Administrator and updated him on the programme.
They are hopeful that he will waive the visa fee; it always seems plain daft
that, even though they are going out to train local staff - FOR FREE - they
have to pay for a working visa.
the evening there was a power cut and so the hotel's back-up generator was
fired up (at least it has one!), sounding like large lorry running outside
the bedrooms. When I rang they were ordering a 'box' of wine and seemed to
be enjoying themselves, although the lack of power had meant a delay to
hotel is better than some she has stayed in whilst out in Tanzania. Last
night there was a hole in her mosquito net and she could hear one buzzing
around but today there seemed to be a new net.
There are only 4 DDOs as one of the districts would not let their DDO come
because of budgetary constraints. Similarly, there are only 5 COs, one of
whom will be bringing her baby, Daniel, with her every day. Today they saw
55 patients, which was quite good as they only arrived at 11.00.
area is a pineapple growing area (not good for teeth) and they saw one 24
year-old woman who had an abscess that was draining through her cheek to the
outside, caused by three rotten teeth. Liz also had a first as the CO, who
was taking the medical history in Kiswahili, told Liz that the patient was
complaining of 'scrotal itching'. This was duly recorded in the notes !
lady in the village made them lunch with bananas and papaya. Tomorrow they
will be doing a full day at the clinic.
Thursday 21 Jan 2016
looks very much as if, due to lack of any internet connectivity, there will
be no 'live' pictures coming from Geita. Elaine Gaffney is with them and she
is usually very good at sending through pictures but without WIFI even she
is not able to send anything through.
According to one
website I found:
district, north-west Tanzania, over 70 per cent of households depend on
agriculture for their livelihoods. Major food and cash crops include
cassava, maize, sweet potatoes, beans, cowpeas, yams, cotton and
groundnuts but, most of all, this area is know for having the sweetest
pineapples in Tanzania, known locally as “mananasi”.
that they were lying around in piles at the side of the road - sounds like
paradise as I love pineapples !
yesterday's incident, I looked up 'itchy scrotum' in Liz's Swahili
dictionary and sent her a text just with those two words in Swahili. My ploy
worked; she innocently showed my text to one of the DDOs and all of the
Africans burst into laughter and she had to explain the background !
'fixer', Mussa, had to buy a padlock yesterday to lock up the room that they
are using at the Nzera clinic. Unfortunately he put the key on the hotel key
ring and left it with reception this morning. They had to borrow a crowbar
and break their way into the room before they could set open the clinic.
Luckily the first patient appeared to have 'previous' of breaking and
entering ! Needless to say they have not let Mussa forget this incident.
On the left is a picture of the
sort of murram road that they drive along for 1 ¼ each
way, every day.
They saw 73 people
today, including one lady, a widow, who had had toothache for
TEN years ! Liz and Judy spent the morning
assessing the DDOs, looking at their teaching skills, etc. In the afternoon
Liz took over training the 'spare' clinical officer, Enoch.
The hotel, although
fairly basic, has been looking after them, serving up a fish curry this
Liz had been
wishing that Brian Westbury, one of the dentists from a previous trip, had
been with them as he was a past-master at fixing toilets but the hotel had
fixed hers by the time they returned from the clinic.
Liz is lucky as she can phone home; the others cannot seem to get through,
although they have heard that one of the husbands has been reading this
blog. Do get in touch on
Hopefully they will be able to email some photos at the weekend, including
more impromptu Pilates classes !
They stopped to buy some pineapples at 11p each. From her description, Liz,
ever the bird-watcher, said that she saw a long-crested eagle (right) on a
post by the side of the road.
Friday 22 Jan 2016
I refer to the town of Geita, where they are staying, I don't know what
image you conjure up in your mind but the picture on the left is the
reality. The main road is tarmac but crumbling at the edges. The irony is
that, just outside of the town is one of the largest gold mines in Tanzania,
where the team was billeted back in 2011. Liz says that it is definitely NOT
a place where you would go out for a stroll in the evening.
took them 1 ½ hours to get to the clinic today as it has been raining and
there were lots of people cycling, trying to avoid the pot-holes. They carry
huge loads of sugar cane, pineapples, cassava or wood on their bikes. They
passed a large herd of Sanga cattle (the ones with the huge horns), which
were being driven down the road (no, with sticks, not sitting in the
They saw 100 patients today, which is a lot, including two children and a
woman with rickets, which Liz had never seen before. Karen and Elaine (the
two nurses) have put the driver to work in the sterilisation room as they
feared he may have been dozing ! He does not actually work for B2A but
seemed keen to get involved.
treated a 6 year old girl with a very swollen face. She had gone to Geita
Hospital to have a tooth extracted. The mother has 8 children and the father
has disappeared off the scene. The mother could only afford the cost of the
extraction but not the recommended follow-up antibiotics which cost, wait
for it..... 64p. Liz's text broke on my
phone whilst I was down at the gym, drinking a £2 orange juice. B2A are
paying for the course of intravenous drugs.
town of Geita is, once again, without power and so Liz is pleased that the
hotel has a generator, even if it is somewhat noisy ! Apparently they phoned
their food order from the Land Rover, on the way back to base, but the cook
had gone walk-about and they had to wait. On the positive side, the food is
getting better each day.
Saturday 23 Jan 2016
right are Sanga cattle of the type that they saw yesterday. I wouldn't fancy
crossing a field of those!
It was a busy day today, despite the fact that
it was very dark as it was raining hard. They saw 124 patients and had to
set up another work station in order to treat all of the patients. Liz and
Nadine have been training the sixth Clinical Officer today. As this was
their last day at Nzera, they had to finish earlier in order to pack up and
take all of their stuff back to Geita, ready for the second clinic on
For part of the time Liz worked by herself in
order to ensure that they saw all of the patients who had turned up, calling
in the patients using her command of Swahili numbers; I imagine that she was
very chuffed when the patients seemed to understand what she was calling.
Abel translated for her and held the torch (bear in mind that there is no
electricity!). She saw the auntie of one of the B2A team and was keen to
make sure that she did not mess up the treatment.
Emergency DIY dentistry in the area includes,
apparently, stuffing a cavity with paracetamol or even applying battery acid
Two of the DDOs, Dr Elisha and Dr Ayo, travel
with the UK team to the clinic every morning and they have been chatting
about the new president (see
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-34670983 ). Apparently he
cancelled the big celebrations for Independence Day as he felt that the
money could be put to better use to build roads and schools. The government
officials got a packet of nuts and a bottle of water instead of a champagne
dinner ! The daughter of Dr Ayo, whom Liz and the team trained in Babati two
years ago, is now studying dentistry in Moshe.
my attention to the fact that, somehow, some photos of the clinic have made
their way onto the B2A Facebook page and so I have 'borrowed' one of these.
Here you can see the patients being taught about oral hygiene and a
practical example of the torch that I referred to above.
Tomorrow is a
day off and so they are heading off to the local market and then to lunch at
the home of some friends of Ian and Jo Topley, the founders of B2A.
Hopefully they will be able to get internet access and send through some of
their own photos.
Sunday 24 Jan 2016
returned from church to find an incoming email from Elaine with the photos
below. The birds (the avian ones!) are marabou storks. I can only assume
that the one-legged activity is some sort of Pilates exercise.
The first photo
is of the five of them at the Victoria Palace Hotel in Mwanza and very much
NOT the Mpiga Hotel in Geita.
The ferry is the
one across the inlet of Lake Victoria which they had to take to get to Geita
greetings from a friend who is waiting to catch a plane at Glasgow airport
(not quite as exotic as Tanzania but Swahili is probably easier to
understand!). He had just been asked for his boarding pass so that one of
the shops could reclaim the VAT and then sat down to read about the lady not
being able to afford the antibiotics for want of 64p - what a contrast !
This morning they went to a local
market and, quelle surprise, ended up at a shop that sells material. The
only real surprise is that Liz did not buy anything ! Karen and Elaine,
however, ordered some scrubs in bold African colours; Liz already has some
with animals on.
After that they went to the home of
2 American expats, Aaron and Marissa, who provided a welcome BBQ. They live
near Geita with their four children. Unfortunately, on the way home, the
driver, Mussa, took the corner out of their drive too sharply and they ended
up in a ditch with one of the front wheel 2 feet in the air. They had to
clamber out on the offside and wait whilst the vehicle was hauled out.
Despite the need to express thanks,
Liz turned down Abel's invitation to the 2 ½ hour evening
service at Geita Cathedral !
Monday 25 Jan 2016
Back to work today, but this time at a new clinic. This week they are in
Katoro, which is quite a large town, about 40 mins further down the road
away from Mwanza. It has some 50,000 inhabitants, although that
may include those living in outlying villages. At least their daily journey
will only be about 40 minutes along a tarmac road.
Liz reports that the Katoro clinic is unchanged
from her last visit there in 2011. They are, once again, working outside on
a verandah but at least, this time, they have some hospital screens to
provide a bit of privacy but these haven't stopped three dogs, which they
have to keep shooing away. On the way home, Liz saw a donkey standing in the
waiting area of one of the other clinics - put her in mind of Dr Doolittle !
Of course, this sort of thing would never happen at the Lister Hospital in
READ ALL ABOUT IT !
The ceiling fan and the strip light are actually working in the
sterilisation room; I imagine that is very welcome as it must get very
They saw 80 patients today and had the mother and baby clinic next door to
them; as a result, they have treated quite a few mums. There is actually a
dental therapist working at the clinic who trained for 3 years and has been
working there since May. They saw his room which has an old dental chair.
The only problem is that he does not have any dental instruments !
They treated a very old and frail man who has
had a dislocated jaw for THREE months. The DDO is arranging for him to have
a general anaesthetic at Geita Hospital to correct the problem as he cannot
bite together properly.
On the left you can see a photo of the team
enjoying a lunch of beans and rice. Liz's batik scrubs are from a previous
trip. As you can see, the clinic is well-built and clean but just lacks the
Tuesday 26 Jan 2016
reported last night that there are loads of donkey-drawn vehicles along the
main road, hence today's photo.
It would seem
that the cockroaches that have plagued Nadine's room in the hotel are now on
the move as one arrived in Judy's room overnight!
They saw 102
patients today and Dr Joseph from B2A joined them at the clinic; he had got
up at 05.00 to travel from Mwanza. He was very pleased with the way that the
programme has gone. Today the Clinical Officers sat their theory examination
after lunch. Whilst they were away the UK team carried on seeing patients
with the DDOs and Liz was amazed at just how quickly they work.
(see yesterday's entry) was also around and so Liz teamed up with him for a
while. Judy, who heads up the UK team, is investigating why he has no
equipment as this seems ridiculous.
Wednesday 27 Jan 2016
last night I received greetings from a friend who was reading this blog in
Luxembourg; interesting to know that we've gone international !
This is their last full day at the Katoro clinic and, readers, this will be
the last entry in this year's blog. I set off for Heathrow at 15.30 as, for
the first time, I will be joining Liz out in Tanzania for a holiday. We are
visiting Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater on safari (Swahili for a
'journey') and then flying to Zanzibar for four nights on the beach (well,
in a hotel on the beach, as I imagine you guessed!) emulating our son, Luke,
who went there on his honeymoon in October.
will, hopefully, text me an update at the end of today's clinic, which I
will publish, before I leave. On Thursday, they will work until about 14.00
and then pack up to drive back to Mwanza.
sent a text through just before they had lunch. Judy and Dr Joseph were just
doing the assessment of the District Dental Officers (i.e. are they ready to
start running their own training courses?). They still have about 90
patients to be seen (that would be the equivalent of queuing down Knebworth
High Street) and so Liz is working by herself with Mussa translating. The
good news is that they have arranged for the therapist to have the set of
instruments that they took out for the sixth Clinical Officer who could not
attend the week's training. He has spent the morning with Karen and Elaine
(the two nurses) going over sterilisation procedures.
turns out that Dr Joseph is an excellent dancer and has been performing the
Macarena with the two nurses in front of some VERY mystified patients! There
are lots of babies and pregnant women - apparently the average is 5.5
patients per family !
all goes well, Liz and I will meet at Kilimanjaro airport on Friday
afternoon and so I thought it would be appropriate to include a photo that
Liz took from the plane on a previous trip. And, no, we will NOT be climbing
the mountain !
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. Until next time (?)
Asante sana !