Breakfast today was fairly quiet. I could tell the entire RWB team still had the events of yesterday fresh in their minds. The morning events at MUHAS began the same as yesterday with Dr. Gill reviewing cases with the residents. In many of the cases, Dr. Gill noticed that the X-Rays appeared to be overexposed or underexposed, meaning that many potential features of the image were hidden due to poor quality. As a result, Brian and Laurie spent lots of time helping the the equipment technicians work on their technique. In fact, after Laurie brought along an improved X-Ray, many of the residents were able to spot additional features that allowed them to properly diagnose the patient.
The remainder of the day was short for me. After lunch, I opted to return to the hotel to catch up on blogging for yesterday’s events. Dr. Gill, Brian and Laurie spent the rest of the afternoon with the residents and Dr. Gill arranged for a teaching presentation. Brian told me it was a packed house!
During the evening, we all met back in the hotel dining area for dinner. There we were also greeted by Dr. Gill’s long-time friend, Ms. Maryvonne Pool (pictured below, left). As I mentioned before in Dr. Gill’s introduction, RWB builds its relationships with others with the guiding principle that kind-hearted people are bound together by a thread of fate. I personally cannot think of a better example of this after having met Maryvonne.
Maryvonne Pool is the founder of the organization, African Reflections Foundation (ARF), formed by individuals who have been personally inspired to raise the standards of living in Africa. Most notably, ARF implements a water and sanitization project which delivers clean and safe drinking water to people in the developing nations of Africa. In addition, ARF undertakes various community development projects such as women’s farming and women’s empowerment as well as literacy and child survival programs.
Listening to Maryvonne’s stories, I was very impressed with her holistic approach towards addressing contemporary health issues. She emphasizes an facilitative problem solving approach which starts with addressing community-based issues. Not unlike the way RWB blends itself within the MUHAS community, Maryvonne develops close partnerships with local community leaders to develop effective and sustainable solutions that villagers feel empowered to get behind.
I remember asking her about some of the challenges when it comes to donating to particular villages and villagers directly. I raised the problem that unless donations are given to everybody, there will always be the potential of leaving certain villagers or surrounding communities feeling ostracized. I remember reading stories about some NFL athletes who visited African villages, and despite the harsh poverty that they saw, they were strictly ordered not to donate any money as a preventative measure against violent jealousy. It’s a strange thought to be ordered not to help someone, especially when you know it’s well within your power to do so.
Maryvonne explained to me that her philosophy is to support local economies, and that by making investments to people who need them the most, these people can start caring for themselves, start caring for others, and then start a business that will help contribute towards community enhancement and stability. I tend to agree with Maryvonne, and after having this discussion, she invited me to accompany her to visit some of the villages she works with. I’m looking forward to seeing all this for myself! You can read about it on Day 5.
One of the most striking features I noticed while at MUHAS is the strong female presence. It seemed as if every department head and director position was held by a very intelligent and responsible female. In the few days I’ve been here, I’ve had the privilege to meet Katherine (Board of Ministry), Dr. Lulu (Chair of Radiology), the Dean of the School of Medicine, the Director of Clinical Support Services and many others. I believe this is a great testament to the hospital, in that it fosters a culture where qualified professionals can successfully lead others without gender bias. Even Tanzania as a macrocosm, appears to be making great strides in regard to the decision-making empowerment of women. From what I could quickly research, Tanzania is ranked 20th in the world and 5th in Africa in terms of women’s participation in decision-making organizations.