Posted on 20 March, 2018

Sunday was a scorching day unpacking and preparing for the week ahead. Despite the jetlag, there were bright smiles and banter throughout the team.


Darren Wolfers, project coordinator for East Africa, has been travelling here since the first trip to Mwanza nearly 4 years ago. He kicked off with a team debrief on “the rooftop” of the Cardiac Institute, our new home away from home. “There is one very good reason we are all here – the population of Tanzania is over55millionandthiscardiac hospital services the entire country.We are working with Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI) toward reducing the mortality rate. The job description is to treat cardiac surgery as a team sport – our team and the local Tanzanian’s working together toward improvements in current practices and more effective communication, prioritising duty of care toward every patient.”

Screening has been taking place for five days now with both Dr. Jonathon Mervis, interventional paediatric cardiologist, and Jill Fawcett, our sonographer tirelesslygathering and assessing information needed to enable the best outcomes possible for seriously ill adult and paediatric patients.


About 50 professionals, including doctors and nurses from both JKCI and OHI met in the board room to discuss in detail each case put forward for surgery.

I met three Tanzanian doctors currently working at JKCI and learnt that Dr Godwin, Dr Onesmo and Dr Naiz, once formed part of the OHI Rwanda team, and have become good friends with many of our group over the past few years. I was thrilled to see them wearing their OHI polo shirts on Sunday! They have earned great respect from all who have worked with them and I was remindedthat they, and many of their peers, have proven themselves to be more capable and successful than any of us due to being able to overcome any language or location or financial obstacles getting in the way of their education and service.

Dr Godwin, the paediatric surgeon (top left picture), originally from Kilimanjaro, travelled to Israel for his training funded by the Melbourne based Pratt Foundation. And Dr Onesmo (top right picture), the paediatric anaesthetist, studied Russian in order to do his training there. And it is now Dr Naiz (right in the bottom picture), the much loved paediatric cardiologist’s 8th OHI mission – Inspiring friendly professionals doing their country proud.

At times, it can feel a bit overwhelming stepping into this challenging environment. My admiration for the clever, and hardworking medical folk alongside me is enormous. Bravo and thank you for doing what you do!!!

Sunday afternoon I spent time in the paediatric wards, and met some of the mums and their babies/children awaiting treatment. The children are adorable and appeared much loved. I think that medical peeps doing this kind of voluntary work ROCK THE KAZBAH “team work”! How wonderful that they are able to make such a profound difference to many precious family’s lives ….I am very lucky to be in their midst of it all.

Tags:  East Africa,