Guest post: Priya from MedOutreach

First year medical student Priya spent a chunk of last summer in Tanzania at the orphanage and hospital. Bear in mind that during this time, we had only just started our projects with the kids. Since then, with your help, we’ve installed water filters, rewired the orphanage, fixed all the washing machines (and are buying a new dryer in the next few weeks), hired one new mama (with another to come this summer), redone the playground, and are so close to reaching our goal in order to install solar lighting in the orphanage and hospital – not to mention started three amazing kids in school already and are more than halfway towards getting full sponsorship for four more! Take a look at the Nkoaranga of last summer through medical student Priya’s eyes:

Last summer I travelled to Tanzania with a group called MedOutreach.
Our university (The University of Western Ontario, Canada) sends
medical, dental and nursing students through MedOutreach every year on
a medical mission. We spend most of our time working in clinics in Arusha with Dr. Mhando and at the Nkoaranga Hospital with
the doctors there. As a first year medical student, I had an incredible eye
opening experience while working in the Nkoaranga Hospital. I saw
intense piki piki (motorcycle) accidents with such severe road rash
and mangled bodies, I scrubbed in on crazy abdominal surgeries and
helped deliver beautiful babies. It was such a shocking experience,
seeing end stage diseases, complications of HIV, cerebral malaria, so
many retained products of conception from young women aborting their
pregnancies (done unsafely because abortion is illegal in Tanzania). I saw many cases that I would have never seen working in
North America, I had a lot to learn from the doctors and nurses in
Tanzania, who with so little technology and equipment were able to
save lives and help cure disease.

As much as I learned from the medical experience in Nkoaranga, my
most favorite memory and the thing that is bringing me back to
Tanzania this summer is the beautiful children at the Nkoaranga
orphanage. Each day after finishing work at the hospital, we would
run up the hill to visit with these kids. When we first arrived, we
saw that there were kids, toddlers, and even babies all about
unsupervised. Some were half dressed, some looked quite unclean, some
couldn’t walk, but they all were so beautiful and needed love. When
you stopped to pick one of them up and give them a hug or a big kiss,
how their faces would light up and how they would laugh and giggle.
These children had a way of making a long day at the hospital, seeing
sick patients suffering from incurable diseases, seem like nothing.
Whether you had showered that morning or ate proper meals, whether you
had electricity or whether you had talked to your family at home, none
of that mattered. These children showed me love and happiness like I
have never seen before.

Although these children did not live in the
best of conditions, sometimes lacking clean water, balanced diets, and clean clothes,
they still had so much life in them. The way they danced and sang
made it seem like they had not a worry in the world. These were the
strongest people I have ever met in my life. Each child had their own
personality and style and as time went by I grew attached to them.

When it was time to leave, I did not even know how to say good-bye. I
did not know how to say thank you for all they had taught me. They
showed me an appreciation for life I will never forget. They showed
me love as I have never seen before. I am truly blessed to have met
these children and it has been my mission since I have been back in
Canada to fundraise for these children and to be their voice. I hope
to put my fundraising efforts towards The Small Things Projects and I
cannot wait to return this summer and see their gorgeous smiles, see
how they have grown and see the many improvements The Small Things
have made for these beautiful children of Nkoaranga orphanage.

We can’t wait to work with Priya this summer as she returns to Nkoaranga, and we hope she’ll be thrilled with the progress made so far! One of the things she mentions is the most crucial – the constant need for more hands and more attention. The volunteer house is full for the summer – but if anyone is interested in volunteering in the fall or winter, please get in touch. To volunteer directly with the orphanage with the assistance of The Small Things, we require you to have fairly extensive experience living and travelling in the developing world. Alternatively, we can direct you to some wonderful volunteer agencies in the area! 
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