Oct 2013 visit by Dirk Juttner
Great haste makes great waste
(Haraka harake haina baraka)
During my visit to Tanzania in October this African proverb came true again.
As Europeans we want things done without delay, bringing our cultural background with us.
In Africa things move at a different pace, for many reasons, which are often out of people’s control – like the weather, lack of education, poor infrastructure and great distances, etc.
On my agenda were visits to Masasi, where I spent some years at the turn of the century. Many things have moved on since my last visit three years ago; not least the new bridge over the Ruvuma River, the border to Mozambique, but also the discovery of gas off the coast of Mtwara, some 250 km away. Masasi is bursting with new houses being built everywhere, with the result that the Sisters, have had to give up some fields.
The big influx of population includes a greater number of Muslims, and there are now some fundamentalist mosques. The number of motorbikes and rickshaw-taxis in the town has also increased greatly, as has the incidence of HIV/Aids and the number of robberies.
The Sisters are carrying on their work helping the disadvantaged in large numbers.
There are now about 100 orphans that they support in various schools besides taking special care of many individuals, who rely on them for food and general assistance.
They plan to build a hostel for girls from villages, who go to secondary school in Masasi and have difficulty finding accommodation. When they find it they are often badly exploited and even made pregnant.
After visiting the Southern part of Tanzania I went to Sayuni in the Southwest Highlands some 750 km from Dar Es Salaam. This time I was again for the fourth year accompanied by a Swiss doctor.
In the last year they have started work on a large new building to serve as a laboratory and maternity unit.
The children’s ward I opened a year ago is much used. We could help them to make it possible to install a wooden ceiling in the ward. In the middle of the year the night temperatures drop significantly due to the altitude (2,100 m) and the children are cold. A ceiling would make a big difference.
The general facilities of the health centre are much used. More and more patients come from far away specially to be treated by the Sisters, due to their care and attention.
A shop and a dining room have also been built. This will be a great help to cater for the in-patients by their relatives.
A highlight of our time there was the visit of two CMM Sisters coming to see us from their college in Iringa some 250 km away. One is being trained as a laboratory assistant, the other as a nurse and midwife. The medical books for their training were hugged like a child. It was wonderful to see their delight at having their own books.
Again we were impressed by the Sisters’ initiatives besides their hard work for the good of others. This must surely be based on what the Psalmist says in Ps. 16.11:
In your presence there is the fullness of joy.
The bishop of the diocese retired almost a year ago, but the officers in strategic places in the diocese are coping well with the situation.
The blind school with a new head is doing a lot for the children. Some have eye operations to give them sight, which is very encouraging.
St. Cyprian’s college in Rondo has seven ordinands and the Junior Seminary, with 167 students in five classes, has good teachers and is running well. A new pre-Form 1 building is now in full use. A large dispensary is being built and should be fully operational soon. This is vital as it is also much frequented by the population of surrounding villages on the plateau.
In Newala I was impressed with the smooth running of the nursery school by the Sisters. They are planning to start a primary school in response to the tremendous demand because of their achievements. Some of the children who started there are now professionals in many areas.
The dispensary in Lulindi, now a health centre, is extending very fast under the leadership of Dr. Lawi Issa. It is amazing to see how it functions, with such very limited resources. Dr. Issa operates on patients under conditions, which are absolutely incredible compared with our standards.