JULY 13TH AT 6:00 PM: Wow. I have no words to describe the feelings I experienced today. When Daniella told us the amount of people we helped at the medical outreach in Engikaret, a rural area, I could not comprehend the shocking revelation.
Around 9:00 AM, the volunteers including me traveled to Engikaret for a medical outreach. Engikaret is a rural region in northern Tanzania where people have their own culture. On our way there, we could see mainly one thing. Dust. It was pouring from all sides around the bus making us feel like we couldn’t breath. Outside, there were herders walking with their animals like the area was normal. Until you look at their feet. Unrecognizable. These people more than likely have financial difficulties and transport problems that cause lots of health issues in which can be first seen through their feet: skin fungal infections. They are unable to receive help from the city, but they can with the aid from us.
When we arrived at our outreach area, there was a small building in the middle of a vast plain where lots of people stood outside. Not only that, but there were school children surrounding our bus and welcoming us.
Carrying the boxes filled with medical supplies for the patients, we entered the building and started setting up the medicine.
Dr. Kivuyo, our supervisor, then split us into three groups for the registration, the consultation, and the pharmacy. I ended up in the pharmacy. The three other volunteers and I thought it would be an easy job, but by the end of one hour, we were sweating like pigs. While we had to give the right portion of medicine, we also had to write the prescription onto the medicine as well as tell the patients how long to take it/how many times in terms they understand. Not only that, but finding the medicine was tough as there were so many that had similar names. It was a very difficult task, but was also an educational inspiring opportunity to do. By the end of it all, we even memorized most of the medicine and what they could do!
Later, our group switched to consultation where we experienced Dr. Kivuyo prescribing the right medicine for the patient’s medical problem. In the room, there was only a small desk and a small bed with no medical tools. Additionally, it was unhygienic with dust and flies coming into the room, but we had to make do with what we had. Thankfully, Dr. Kivuyo brought the basic tools necessary for the diagnosis (blood pressure pump, thermometer, etc.).
In one medical case, there was a baby that had conjunctivitis: an infection to the outer area of the eyeball and inner eyelids. We saw the symptoms that came with the eye infection including pus discharge in the eyes, red eyes, and swollen eyelids. It was very depressing to see a baby having an eye infection, but many more patients had it also.
In another case, a baby had pus discharge in the eyes as well as a skin fungal infection. The baby also had bronchitis possibly from all the dust in the air.
Many more patients came in with their own medical problems until we closed around 4 o’clock. Looking at these patients, I wanted to tear up. I was saddened to see the amount of infections and diseases we saw only at Engikaret. What about the other areas? Other countries? Seeing all these medical infections made me want to be able to do more, but I was still only a high schooler who didn’t know much about all the types of diseases and how to cure it. The thing I am able to do is bring awareness to these problems. Because of hygiene issues, the rise of medical problems have occurred in Arusha, Tanzania. But this is only one small part of Tanzania. What about Uganda, Kenya, and Ghana?
We soon packed up to leave for dinner, and said goodbye to the remaining patients. July 13th was a day where we experienced a new culture and a new life. We helped 70 people and made their lives a little bit better. This was only from one day. How many people could we have helped if we went to areas with no access to medicine everyday? We, people from other countries, can make a difference in someone’s life in Africa. So let us get started.