Hard to believe that I am in my 7th month! (of volunteering, that is.) The end of my work here is in sight, and my safe delivery back to Canada in July. It has been an eye-opening experience. I am so glad that I came. But I will be ready to return – 9 months is a long time to be away from family, and so much has gone on both here and there!
You may have wondered why the recent radio silence in my blog….like confinement when your “condition” became obvious, in pregnancies long ago. Well, it was something like that. The government of President Magufuli passed a law requiring bloggers to register with them, pay the equivalent of $900 USD, and be monitored. So I stopped writing, as I couldn’t meet all the criteria (register as a company, provide names of company directors, proof of payments, etc.) and I certainly didn’t want to be on the wrong side of the law. Many local bloggers shut down as well. Just last week, the High Court held that the law was not legal as currently written, so I am writing quickly while the window is still open!
I continue to try to see as much of Tanzania as I can, for work and pleasure. Quick travel update:
We were extremely lucky at Gombe Stream National Park, seeing over 13 chimpanzees – some at ground level, very close to us, others in low trees and many up high.
Then (after doing some real work for a while) I flew to Mafia Island for yet another yoga retreat and snorkelling excursion. As with many things, I sometimes see things differently from others – left legged tree pose anyone? We had fun.
Then to Dodoma, the capital city of Tanzania, for the Nursing and Midwifery Scientific conference – over 3/4 of the juried presentations were on midwifery! Our booth, with the Mama Natale simulated birthing demonstrations, was very popular. Shoulder dystocia, breech birth, resuscitating a newborn – emergencies that midwives must learn to address, as they work in remote locations with no back-ups.
Then all efforts were on preparation for the International Day of the Midwife celebrations – this year in Morogoro – from May 2 – 5. The first few days emphasized free clinics in a local park – HIV AIDS testing and counselling, family planning, youth friendly services, wellness tests (blood pressure, weight, diabetes, etc.). Then Saturday was the Climax Day, with dignitaries from the International Confederation of Midwives, Sanofi Foundation, Canadian Association of Midwives and local government representatives being entertained by a rally led by a marching band, then local dancers and a choir. We then heard from them on the benefits and goals of midwifery in Tanzania.
A new room mate, Suzanna, has arrived to do organizational planning/capacity building, and Patricia (Communications) leaves in a week. Then Mahad (Monitoring & Evaluation/data collection) arrives in early June. So many adjustments as we all get used to each other and divy up the work that Patricia had been handling.
The three volunteers: Nance, Patricia and Suzanna
I have booked what is likely my last excursion here – to the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo, South Africa (near Durban) for a week at the end of June. It will be yoga, meditation and silence….I hope it will allow me to reflect on my year and consolidate what I have felt and learned.
Then I will be on my way home a few weeks later!