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Disaster Preparedness The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing

International Nursing Experience, Tanzania, Africa, Summer 2009

By Lindsey Griffin RN
Graduate Student, UT School of Nursing

I have lost my heart in Africa and I cannot get it back.... it floats over the hills, Oh, sweet, music. We have much to sing about.

I have made my second trip to Tanzania, Africa. After two years, praying, planning, and raising support, the primary care clinic is complete. The project was completed in collaboration with Manna Worldwide. The 10-bedroom facility sits across from a church and a school, creating a campus-like feel for the community of Olorien. Dr. Byemba, an incredible man, oversees the daily operations of the clinic. When I came back to the United States, my heart stayed back in Africa. It is currently being shipped over in pieces.

The Community of Olorien is 10,000 people, and is overtaken by the larger city of Arusha. Most people live on less then $1.00 a day and reside in one room houses with many people. The AIDS rate is undetermined because many do not get tested. Adequate medical services to this poor community were not available. At the clinic, we have a fully stocked pharmacy, a laboratory, and the capacity to provide maternal and child health services, as well as a minor surgery suite. We are also adding dental and optometry services. We hope to build community outreach programs in the future.

While in country, we provided basic services for over 150 people with the help of a physician from Colorado. We fitted 34 people with eyeglasses and provided prenatal education and counseling.

There is a continued need for medical equipment and volunteers to come and partner with the Tanzanians. The clinic is in its infancy. The goal is to improve the quality of health care, but more importantly, to connect with the hearts of the people. I have lost my heart in Africa...