It was time to put our plans and dreams into action in Shinyanga, Tanzania. Recent data shows the region of Shinyanga region is 19,000 square miles and the regional capital is the municipality of Shinyanga. It's population was 1,534,808 in 2012. Shinyanga urban district population was 161,391 and Shinyanga rural district population in 2012, and these area are where our work is centered for the time being.
I left Dulles airport on February 15, 2018 and landed in Mwanza, Tanzania on February 17. I was met by Ezra, Neema, Christian and Baby Nancy. We traveled to Shinyanga on February 18. It was wonderful to be reunited with my Tanzanian family once again.
The joy was mixed with sadness as Neema and Ezra had lost their newest baby, Anna, in January at 3 days of life. This was due to complications of delivery, sadly, and only reinforced our mission that Obstetric care needs help to improve the survival rate of pregnant women, infants, and children in Tanzania. Neema and Ezra have lived through the nearly impossible survival of a very premature baby and the demise of an infant who should probably have survived under other circumstances.
In the first week of my trip there, Neema (who was still on maternity leave) and I visited government officers, medical officers, other NGOs (non government organizations or non profits) in the area providing various support for women and children in the region. Prior to my trip, I had researched the Tanzania's Ministry of Health Goals and Objectives and our goals mirror many of the goals for the improvement of the country's health and welfare. We set up and furnished the Nancy Foundation's brick and mortar office, which is a requirement of NGOs in TZ.
Fixing up the Nancy Foundation office in Shinyanga
I was sitting in the hotel's breakfast room during my second week there, when Sister Kate, a Sister of Our Lady of Apostles, came in for juice and asked me what I was doing there. She was at the hotel's conference center that day for a meeting. Just the night before, I was praying to God to show me what to do for His plan. I was getting overwhelmed by so much information, suggestions that we should try to save all of the women in TZ, and the feeling that we were so small to try and make a difference. I kept reminding myself that Saint Mother Teresa advised "Do small things with great love". Well, God sent Sister Kate, a nurse, in to get juice that morning! She told me that she was running a health center about an hour away, and invited me to visit two of her patients in the main hospital with her. As I watched her give consideration, compassion, and care to these patients, I knew that God had put her in my path for a reason. We have very similar faiths, professions, and belief that compassion is of utmost importance.
Showing the Nancy Foundation donations to
pregnant women at Bugisi Health Center
Sister Kate explaining the Nancy Foundation goals to
the pregnant mothers
Neema, Ezra and I visited her health center, met the staff, met many patients, enjoyed a wonderful lunch with the Sisters, met the children at a primary school run by the Sisters, and an adult vocational school also run by the Sisters. We had extensive discussions about how our foundation could help their mission. We agreed upon providing prenatal vitamins for the pregnant mothers through six months of breastfeeding, an ultrasound for each pregnant mother, and a khanga (traditional cotton fabric with a faith statement) used to wrap the babies after birth. It is also used as a diaper because diapers do not exist there. Some mothers don't have anything to wrap their baby in for the trip home. These items will hopefully bring mothers to the health center for at least 4 prenatal visits and hopefully come to the center for delivery. Our goal is to not only decrease maternal/infant mortality, but also improve and encourage access to care in this village.
Neema giving her testimony and translating to nursing students about the importance of compassion in nursing
Neema and Nancy with directors at Kolandoto School
of Nursing and Health Sciences
In my last week there, we were given permission to do a presentation on one of our programs "Compassion is Free" to nursing school instructors one day and presented to the nursing class students the following day. It was well received and we hope that the students will start a Compassion Club to provide voluntary care and assistance to villagers in need and patients without family in the attached hospital.
We welcomed a wonderful Nurse Midwife from Seattle, Sky, who will now be on our foundation board. is working with Neema to set up future plans for small businesses for the women in the village to improve autonomy, self esteem, and improved income/living conditions for their families. Malnutrition is a significant cause of death of women and infants and stunted growth of children under five years of age.
New arrivals wrapped in their new khangas
Pregnant mothers learning about the importance
of prenatal vitamins
Sister Rita showing us the primary school at Bugisi
Neema, Ezra, and I had extensive time to grieve the loss of Baby Anna, discuss the grieving process, discuss the importance of life and family, and to thank God for the path He has led us upon. I returned home on March 19, 2018 and daily keep in touch with Neema, Ezra, and Sister Kate.
Our family photo: Ezra is holding "Baby Nancy", Christian, Neema, and "Nancy Senior"
A sad "farewell" at the airport until the next visit
If you wish to help in our endeavor, your donation will:
*Provide approximately 16 months of prenatal vitamins for each pregnant mother: cost approximately $25.00/mother
*Provide an ultrasound for each pregnant mother: cost is $2.00/ultrasound
*Provide a pair of khangas for each baby born at the health center: cost is $4.00 each
Please see our website or facebook page for donations through Paypal. God bless you for your prayers and support.