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Emma’s return from Tanzania

Posted in: Blog, by Visits, on 24th May 2018 | 0 comments

I’ve just returned from my first trip out to Tanzania with Bridge2Aid and am bursting with things that I want to say about my experience! It was everything I thought it would be but also so much more than I could have imagined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started my journey with a mix of first time and returning volunteers from Heathrow airport. It was nice to hear how excited the ‘returners’ were about going out to Tanzania again and this helped to calm our ‘first time’ nerves! On our arrival in Mwanza, despite feeling tired from our long journey we were all buoyed up on seeing the Bridge2Aid staff, waiting for us with cheerful, welcoming smiles. It was so nice to finally meet my Tanzanian counterparts, people who I regularly communicate with from my desk in the UK via email or WhatsApp.

Over the next few days I started to see for myself why so many of our volunteers return to Tanzania again and again. Travelling to and from our clinic site everyday gave us a window into the lives of normal Tanzanian people living in the rural communities – children walking long distances along hot dusty roads to and from school, herds of goats and cows being guided by both young and old, rice being harvested in the fields, mattresses and shoes being sold on the edge of the road and large bundles of sugar cane balanced on bicycles whilst being ridden! It’s hard work without many of the things that we take for granted in the UK.   But lots of time is spent outdoors with family, friends, neighbours and the wider community, sharing jobs and food.

During my two days out at clinic I watched in awe and fascination as our wonderful volunteers did what they do best. Every day anxious patients were welcomed with warm smiles, the local clinical officers were taught and guided with patience and kindness, but above all everyone worked as a team. It isn’t easy to treat and train people who don’t speak your own language. It isn’t easy working with random chairs and tables when you’re used to shiny new equipment with adjustable height and angles. It isn’t easy working with a head torch strapped to your hot sweaty head. The use of pressure cookers to sterilise the instruments is probably quite alien to most of us! But somehow it does work and these difficulties pale into insignificance when you consider the dental pain that some of the people have been living with. I talked with two local men who visited the clinic. Watching their body language and looking into their eyes as they talked I could feel their pain and sense of helplessness.

I have now seen for myself how much need there is for our dental volunteer programme in Tanzania. The volunteers who give their time, skills and money to be a part of this are amazing and are literally helping to change lives.

My week in Tanzania came to an end far too quickly and I wish I’d been able to stay for longer, supporting my team of volunteers. The Bridge2Aid staff looked after us all so well and I have made some wonderful new friends. I have laughed and cried and in a way I think my life has also been changed.

Would I do it again? YES, I absolutely would! 

 

 

 

 

 


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