Providing a staff hostel in Tanzania

Our supporters helped to provide a much-needed staff hostel
in Makiungu, Tanzania.  (Sep. 2011)

Tanzania building

The completed hostel will provide lodgings for staff and visitors.

Makiungu Hospital is located in a semi-desert area of Tanzania. Patients flock from near and far to get much-needed treatment. One of the greatest challenges is attracting and retaining qualified staff. Sister Maria Borda says, "Looking for greener pastures" is a phrase we hear a lot. This is understandable because staff need to raise and educate their families. They want to work in places where good facilities are available and these can be difficult to provide in a rural area.

Staff accommodation was needed for the two resident surgeons and a resident obstetrician. Another feature of life in Makiungu is the constant stream of visitors who provide essential services. Some - doctors, nurses, physiotherapists - come regularly for short periods with specialist medical skills. There is a long-standing relationship with several medical schools. The students who come for placement gain valuable experience and are generous in their fundraising efforts. There are many volunteers with maintenance skills.

Sister Maria says these visitors 'have lifted our hearts, our standard of services, and the morale of our co-workers'. They come over long dusty roads on journeys lasting many hours. Some come by small plane to the hospital airstrip. All need to be housed and lodgings are scarce in this remote area.

The answer to this accommodation predicament was provided by 31 committed people from Malta's Mission Fund, who built a wonderful staff hostel, co-funded by the Cork-Singida Group, and other groups and individuals. Thanks to this, urgently-needed senior staff, including a dentist and a pharmacist, have come to stay in Makiungu. A spurt was also given to the new extension to the maternity unit, co-funded by Dr Gerard van der Leij and his team in the Netherlands. It will take the overflow of 'at-risk' mothers who cannot be allowed home until after delivery because of potential complications. Other volunteers from the Mission Fund group and their contacts installed a system for piped oxygen to all the wards and theatres. They raised EU funds to complete an environmentally-friendly biogas system for sewage disposal. The X-ray building is also being completed.

"We often see a stretcher being rushed in, accompanied by anxious family members. It may be a man bleeding from an accident. It may be a mother with complications of labour, who has been carried for several hours from her village. They believe that at last they have reached the place where they will get the urgent care they need. We forget our exhaustion and thank God that all systems are in place so we can provide for those who are sick the care and dignity they deserve."