In my October 1 post I reported a snag in my idea of a women’s healthcare initiative to revive the Integrated Agricultural Training Center, where our volunteers stay when they visit Tanzania. Different members of the Tanzanian Lutheran community had taken to arguing about who has the right to speak for the Center, which the Lutherans founded. This raised the possibility that the healthcare initiative would never get off the ground.
The situation got worse before it got better: on October 8, I received an e-mail indicating the Babati District Medical Officer’s “shock” upon discovering my dealings with the Center’s Director, Justine Sokoitan, “who is not in the medical profession.” Consequently, the Center must be “out of the mother/child medical activities.” This puzzled me since I had only hoped the Center could provide a host site for such activities, not that Justine himself would give healthcare. And HIV education and education about genital cutting had made up minor components of the Center’s work until it lost funding two years ago. Nevertheless, I started to worry more and more that, in answering the call by Justine and Pastors Abel and Michael to help the Center, I had blundered into a proposal that would end up doing more harm than good (not for the first time, undoubtedly).
Things look better now, though. Karimu probably needs to leave it up to the Bishop of Tanzania’s North Central Diocese to bring peace to his flock and figure out what to do about the Center. But the Babati District Medical Officer has suggested an alternate site for the women’s healthcare initiative: the Dareda Kati Town public health clinic. Although the Center looked attractive as a host site because of its size and modest capacity for electric power, we have learned that the cramped, unpowered Dareda Town clinic sits on two buildable acres and within easy reach of power lines.
Meanwhile the area’s midwives and nurses, advised by the local Women’s Community Development Officer, have mobilized to talk about what they want and to register their new organization with Tanzania’s government, so we hope to see something from them in writing soon.
Topping off the good news about the healthcare initiative, last night Karimu’s information meeting for next summer’s trip to Tanzania, at Robin Kopit’s beautiful yet small home in Santa Cruz, was jammed. We’re still looking for more 2011 volunteers—and letting me know of your interest via my blog would be acceptable, if unorthodox—but I don’t think we’ll have any problem finding them.—Don Stoll