No longer a Mzungu, Mountain of God, and Switch Day!

This is the last week at TCDC. I have had so much fun with my family and here in Usa River. I have learned so much Swahili and feel pretty comfortable with the language. Conversing will still be hard but I’m less intimidated by my surroundings. I have been fortunate to have had such a great family to live with. Baba Benard has been the best of hosts. He is really accommodating and truly treats us as his own sons. I loved watching the world cup with him and just talking about Tanzania and the culture. We have a lot of great laughs. I have thoroughly enjoyed Mama James cooking. Mama James has always been comforting and I’m gonna miss her food next month when I have to cook by myself. I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t get to learn how to cook from her, but I think I will survive. Also I feel really bad that I didn’t learn that Mama’s name comes from her first child because she literally is James’s mother.


James has been the best brother I could have asked for. (sorry sidd. You gotta step up your game.) He’s helped me with my Swahili homework. He’s taken us to the market or wherever we need to go. He helped me get a haircut and with anything in general. He’s really made my stay here in Usa amazing. I was sad to see him go back to school on Monday, as he was too. I am sure he loved the Chelsea jersey. Even though I wasn’t able to change him to an Arsenal fan, I still love him nonetheless. Happy, our younger sister, has been very kind. She is always up at 6 am with Mama and Lucy making food. She also wont ever let me help her clean up afterwards. It’s okay though because we enjoy watching “Be Careful with my Heart” one of the cheesiest Filipino Dramas I’ve ever watched. Lucy is very quiet and I think she’s embarrassed by her English, so she won’t ever talk to us. Lucy is also one of Bab’s nieces but is living with them for now. Mousa is also one of Baba’s nephews. He is studying at Makumira University nearby. He is studying to become a teacher, but is a really talented guitarist. He has a great voice and loves to sing and play gospel songs.

 photo 5 I’ve enjoyed my time with them, sharing stories and laughing. I even enjoyed cooking for them last week. The light had gone out so we had to cook by candlelight. I made a California Chicken club sandwich. John and I made some salad, grilled chicken, bacon, and chopped some vegetables. It was quite the romantic event and I think it turned out pretty great. I’m not sure my host family really enjoyed it (but at least they ate it!).

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I also worked on an oxygen concentrator again at Mt. Meru, and was able to get it to work 90% of the way. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to work on it again, as it was our last day there. 

This past weekend I also climbed Ol Doinyo Lengai (Mountain of God). It is  an active volcano that erupted in 2007 and was supposed to erupt in 2012, but hasn’t yet. It’s current status is “erupting.” It was hands down the toughest hike I’ve ever done.  Our guide told us it was only 3 hours, but the climb up took 6 hours. We started in the night because it is too hot to start in the day. More than half the hike was not on a trail, but just following a guide. Moreover, I climbed half the hike using my hands because my tennis shoes would keep slipping. For every step I took, I went three steps down. The last part of the hike was very steep and was pretty much all rock climbing. It was something I had never done before (or could do) and it really took all my will power and determination to make it to the top. I was in the fast group so we made it up for the sunrise. It was so awesome to make it to the top and conquer this Mountain of God. It was really beautiful and cool to literally live life on the edge. On one side, I could fall into the volcano or on the other side I would fall down the mountain. Luckily I didn’t get any cramps, but honestly the hardest part was coming down. Because of my shoes I couldn’t walk down I had to slide down part of the mountain and ripped my pants, cut myself, and got really dehydrated. I didn’t bring a lot of water and almost 0 food, but luckily I made it down in 5 hours and to the car safely. Other groups took longer and were in the sun for a long time, so Tyler, the master of the mountain of god, climbed up halfway twice to give water and food to our other friends.

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Tomorrow I am leaving to Kibosho near Moshi. I will be on the base of Kilimanjaro. The blog posts will be less, but I’m sure the content will be just as strong. The hospital is currently managed by the German NGO Aktionskreis Ostafrika (AKO). Thus, you will find German equipment and a subtle German presence. The hospital is a teaching facility and many of the students and staff including doctors and nurses, live on-site. Near the hospital there are a handful of restaurants and small shops. For most things, however, you must go into Moshi. The hospital has 225 beds and is unique in that it has an ophthalmology department, a dental department and even a special operating room for cataract surgery. Each of these departments has an abundance of equipment, and currently a new inpatient building is under construction to help handle the surplus of patients and equipment. In addition, there are two general surgery operating rooms, a maternity ward, an x-ray department, a physiotherapy department, an emergency operating room, and a pediatric ICU, as well as general medicine wards for women, men and children. The next month will be sure to present a host of challenges, both cultural and engineering related. I am very excited to put the knowledge we have gained over the past 5 weeks to work, and hope that we can make a sustainable impact in our hospitals.


I’ve enjoyed my time here in Usa but I can’t wait for the next month!



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