Posted on 26 November, 2014


There is an exciting vibe about being in Tanzania. Perhaps it is the combination of a new country, and starting a new project for Open Heart International. Everyone is getting a feel for the place as there is a lot of “unknowns”. Unlike in our other projects, there is no team member who has been here before to give you a tip here and there. Simple things like where to buy water, change money, or even where the toilets are is a matter of asking, finding out for ourselves and working together as a team even more that usual.

On our 15 hour road journeyfrom Kigali to Mwanza, paediatric cardiac surgeon (and Tanzanian national)Dr Godwin was telling us about fascinating stories about his homeland. It certainly adds context to the place we are calling home for the next week. It is crazy to think there is over 49 million people in Tanzania and Dr Godwin is the only paediatric cardiac surgeon!

Yesterday the team went to the hospital to start unpacking. The group split up into their areas of expertise: theatre, ICU and the ward to have a look around and unpack their boxes in the limited space. It is very different to what some of us expected; but we can certainly make it work.


Yesterday afternoon a head of deparment meeting took place to review the screened patients, discuss the surgery list and which patients would be selected and in which order they should be operated.

I have to admit that over 90% of what was said went way over my head (if you are reading my blog posts for the first time, I don’t have a medical background!), but I am slowly learning words which make the conversations more understandable. Either way it was interesting to listen in and hear the discussion about the patients. Surgery will start tomorrow morning and the theatre team are hoping to do three cases a day, but that is all depending on how quickly the patients recover in ICU.


Over half the team is the same as Rwanda, with the remainder flying in from Australia for this leg of the East Africa journey. Last night we had our first Tanzania team meeting to plan the week out and ensure everyone knew their roles. The vibe is good and everyone is ready for surgery to start!

Tags:  East Africa,