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Jane’s Journal Part Two – a site visit to Tanzania for The Eliminate Project

Mar 02, 2017
From February 4 -10, Kiwanis International President Jane Erickson visited Tanzania to see first-hand the impact of Kiwanis’ partnership with UNICEF. She has shared some excerpts from her journal below.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The roads were absolutely horrible and my back was totally screaming within 20 minutes. Unfortunately the drive took over three hours due to almost impassable roads. Where the finished road had washed away we had to drive very slowly. Then when the road was being remade we drove for over an hour in the ditch on the side of the road. The last part was super, super bumpy and the guys said only a land cruiser could have traversed that thing. Then parts of it were graded so high I was afraid of slipping off.

We finally pulled into Image Village (pronounced ee mog ae) where we visited the Health Centre, a clinic where they offer

©UNICEF/2017/Beechey                                                                                                                              

lower level outpatient services, see pregnant women, conduct prenatal care, register children for birth certificates, provide vaccinations and conduct health education.

…they started the process by weighing babies. Each mom had to produce the baby's immunization record (written on a cardboard paper), the baby was weighed and the weight recorded in a green, gray or red category. If they ended in the red category they were said to be referred for additional instruction. The weight machine was a simple wooden stand with a suspended scale. The mom put the baby in a shorts-type sling holder (which each mother had apparently sewed and brought along) and hung the baby in the holder on the hook of the scale to be weighed. It was very primitive but certainly worked.

…Then came baby number two, the little boy that had put his hands up and touched my hair right before we weighed him. The mom later told the care worker that her little boy had never seen yellow hair before. I didn't have the heart to tell her he still hadn't! :-). Anyway, this little guy started screaming before she ever came near him. Poor little guy. Mom was getting more upset and started to shake next to me. I was afraid she was going to take baby, bolt and run. I reached out, put my arm around her and held baby’s head, patting mom’s back during the entire process. She seemed to appreciate that.

The little one finally stopped screaming when Mom took him out and later smiled a little. The mom even invited me to her home! Too bad we couldn't go as that would have been very special. :-)

I then caught up with the group who had walked up the way to the Image Primary School where the kids welcomed us with a robust song and dance that went on for 7-8 minutes. I taped some of it as it was very special.

We toured the classrooms, watched the teachers teach lessons and how children responded was very fun. While some of our traveling buddies bemoaned the fact there were so many children in that first grade classroom, I just kept smiling, wondering if any of them were there because of our donations to The Eliminate Project. Wow, one or more of these kiddos could be here because of MY donation. That is very, very heart-smiling thinking!!!

Read Jane's Journal Part One
Read Jane's Journal Part Three