Welcome to the new medical staff of KHC

Early in the morning on the 4th of December, the team of Cedar Tanzania gathered on the ferry to Kamanga. For us, it was far from an ordinary day as we were going to triple in size. Leading up toward the grand opening of Kamanga Health Centre (KHC) in January 2018, we couldn’t wait to welcome 12 new medical staff members from Sengerema District. Among them were nurses, doctors and lab technicians all keen to deliver the best quality health service at KHC.

Upon arrival, Paulina Urassa, Manager of the Health Centre, gave everyone a warm welcome before everyone got up to introduce themselves. Mark O’Sullivan, Founder and Director of Cedar Tanzania then introduced the The Cedar Foundation and gave the group a brief history of the organization, followed by Claire Michelotti, the Operations and Funding Manager who presented the organisation’s Vision, Mission and Values. Finally project managers and field staff gave an overview of Cedar Tzanzania’s projects both at the Health Centre and in the community, so that new staff could get an understanding of Cedar Tanzania’s area of work.

The medical staff was then guided around their new workplace, and the staff accommodation built purposefully for them. With an incredible view of Lake Victoria, the medical staff seemed pleased with their new work surroundings. But more than being a beautiful place to work, it is also a peaceful area for patients to recover in a calm supportive environment.

 

Building a team


Do you have a Beyoncé or a giraffe in your team? No? Well, maybe you just don’t know yet. We most certainly do! How we found out? Continue reading!

The second day with our new team members was dedicated to getting to know each other better so we could become one team. In the morning, we all gathered at Rock Garden Beach in Mwanza for a full day of fun activities that at the same time taught important lessons about Cedar Tanzania’s core values - Respect, Safety, Equality, Partnership, Forgiveness, and Integrity.

What would you think when seeing a group of people, all blindfolded and lined up by holding each other on the shoulders? Probably not much, other than finding this quite peculiar. However, this activity taught us many lessons. For example, that everyone is dependent on everyone else in the team but at the same time supported by each other. It also taught us that you only succeed when every team member is willing to put in the same effort as everyone else. It was an activity that strengthened the feeling of togetherness which is not only important in our daily work but will become essential in the provision of quality health care services in KHC.

But how did Beyonce get onto our team, you ask? Sitting in a circle in the grass with Lake Victoria in the background, some team members were asked to act out certain things without making any noise: “Do a traditional dance”, “Walk like a giraffe”, “Act scared” and “Pretend to be Beyoncé”.  One of our Project Managers did a fantastic job of singing a Beyonce song, silently! This brought many smiles and laughs to the group, and we found out of what we are capable of, with a little creativity and a lot of courage. It showed in a very humorous way that every team member has hidden talents and strengths that only come to light when being in a really demanding situation. You see, every team might have a secret Beyoncé among them.

Through these many exercises, we learnt important lessons in a humorous way and in a relaxed atmosphere, which will be very important to keep in mind when we start working together at our new Kamanga Health Centre.

And they keep on coming!

Hi Everyone! 

My name is Camille Terrier. I am a French lawyer who has practiced criminal law in Paris, France. I love travelling which is why I decided to visit Tanzania, but not just to see the beautiful sights that it has to offer but to also lend a hand in any way that I can. 

1. What inspired you to volunteer with Cedar Tanzania?  

  I find the projects that Cedar is working on very interesting. I also admire the way that they researched and found out which areas they could have a real impact. They didn’t just decide that they wanted to be involved in Education for example, without first ensuring that the Kamangan population really needed help in this area.  

2. How long is your volunteer placement?

  6 weeks. The end comes too quickly! 

3. What is your role at Cedar Tanzania?

  I am currently helping with the reviewing and amendment of Cedar policies. But unfortunately I won’t have time to see this work to completion.   I have also been involved in organizing the Cedar Run, where some of the participants in the Rock City Marathon raised funds for Cedar Tanzania. 

4. What things have you found surprising?

  The size of the team compared to all the work they have done, and the missions they want to yet achieve. 

5. What things have you enjoyed? 

  The great spirit of the team, the warm welcome of everyone, having fun while working, discovering Tanzanian law! I am also working closely with Claire (Cedar’s Operations and Funding Manager) and she has been very helpful. 

6. What things have challenged you so far?

  The fact that I have to study Tanzanian law in English, while I am a French lawyer who has only practiced in France!  

7. What would you say to anyone who said that they could not volunteer because they didn't have a skill to offer?

  Well if you have a skill to offer then that’s great! But you don’t really need to have one. The most important thing is to be motivated and involved. If you want to help the organisation as a whole, or a particular project or an individual in that project, then you will be helpful, even if it’s challenging. 

8. Would you recommend this volunteer scheme to others?

  Yes, definitely!

 

Meet Cedar Tanzania's new volunteer!

Hello Everyone!

My name is Livia Copley. I am 20 years old and I come from a small town called Zug in central Switzerland. I have a diploma in business and have recently completed a one year internship at a law firm as a receptionist and an assistant. I arrived here in Mwanza on the 2nd of October and I am looking forward to spending the next two months volunteering for Cedar Tanzania.

1.    What inspired you to volunteer with Cedar Tanzania? 

I had thought about doing something for a charity for years but never seriously did anything about it. After visiting the Eskdales, who are passionately committed to Cedar and are very good family friends in Switzerland, I heard all about what Cedar Tanzania is doing here in Mwanza and I was motivated to come and help. The way Cedar Tanzania deals with issues by trying to understand the people and their needs, and by not just imposing a project for the sake of it, is admirable.

2.    How long is your volunteer placement?

 My placement is for two months.

3.    What is your role at Cedar Tanzania?

My role is to assist wherever I am needed. I am working closely with Claire, the Operations and Funding Manager. Currently I am researching and helping to write a proposal regarding the Special Needs Education Project, to be ready for a visit by Interteam.

 4.    What things have you found surprising?

I have come to Mwanza with a very open mind, so I haven’t really experienced many surprises as much as new insights on the different ways of living between our cultures.

5.    What things have you enjoyed? 

I have enjoyed just observing my surroundings and taking in all the differences between Tanzania and Switzerland. It has also been interesting to read about the different issues here.

I am hoping to be able to discuss my research findings in more depth with the Cedar team, as this will encourage other view points and will also help me to form new ideas.

6.    What things have challenged you so far?

I often find myself wondering if something is safe to eat!  I also feel challenged by the lack of personal space here in Mwanza. The lack of hygiene for example that I have noticed around Kamanga village and on the ferry have made me insecure on how close I can get to my fellow passengers! I think hearing and reading so much about health safety has made me a bit overly concerned about infections. Both of these things, I think, will get easier with time as I get used to living here.

7.    What would you say to anyone who said that they could not volunteer because they didn't have a skill to offer?

Anybody can help in some way. I have only just finished my business diploma and don’t have a lot of experience in the workplace and none in this field of special needs research, but I can read and write! I have found that with these skills and the general knowledge that I have built up in business school, I can research topics and assist in writing proposals very adequately.

Being interested in what Cedar Tanzania is doing goes a long way too, as anybody can discuss a topic and think of new ideas and ways to help.

In my opinion, skills that are often taken for granted in European countries, can come in very handy here in Tanzania, e.g. skills in using Microsoft programs and social networking etc.

8.    Would you recommend this volunteer scheme to others?

I am at the beginning of my volunteering time with Cedar Tanzania, but what I have seen and heard, regarding the way Cedar is trying to help, is something that I feel more people need to come and experience for themselves.

 

WATU WENGI! (So Many People!)

Under a blue doomed sky, the people of Kamanga make a circle around the Primary School football field. The leaders of the village have already made their introductory speeches, opening this first ever community wide SASA event, organized by Cedar Tanzania’s SASA team. Abduli, one of Cedar Tanzania’s Field Officers, is now on the microphone, hosting a SASA game exploring issues of power. He sounds in charge. This is a game he has led many times. He makes jokes in between his instructions and whilst the music plays in the background he busts a dance move or two.

There is laughter and fun in the air and the crowd buzzes with curiosity. There has never been anything like this in Kamanga village. But as part of Raising Voices' strategy for SASA, such community wide events are an integral part of spreading the message about how men and women can use their power to support and benefit one another and their families.

Discussing issues of power imbalance in families and their link between violence against women and girls and the spread of HIV/AIDS, is not a topic that is easily discussed in Tanzanian culture. But SASA has found a way, through drama sketches, followed up by thought provoking questions that engage the community in thinking through some of the issues surrounding this very important topic.

Three actors are now in the middle of the field. The first sketch begins. It shows a verbally abusive husband complain to his cowering wife about the lack of food on his plate. Storming off from the house he enters his local bar, where he drinks his daily wage away. The slurred speech of his caricatured drinking buddy is met with much laughter from the enraptured audience. The husband is shown hooking up with one of the bar girls. A loud round of applause follows the actors as they exit the centre of the field.

A SASA Community Activist (CA) is a member of the community that has been trained by our Cedar Tanzania staff, in the different ways of facilitating discussions, on the various issues of power imbalances between the sexes. One such CA, clad in a blue SASA/Cedar t-shirt,  now takes the microphone. She holds it rather nervously and begins addressing the crowd; ‘What do you think of the husband’s attitude towards his wife?’ ‘What could the wife have done differently?’ ‘Who has the power in this relationship?’ Both young and old come forward to offer up answers; ‘The husband shouldn’t speak to his wife like that!’ ‘If he doesn’t give her money to buy enough food, what else can she do?’ ‘He has all the power, and he is not using it well.’ ‘If he gave his wife more money instead of using it on beer and other women, then he would have a happier wife and home!’

Straight away the next sketch is set up. This time we see the same wife refusing her husband sex. He insists and says it is her duty to keep him happy. There are a lot of disgruntled murmurs from  the audience as insistence gives way to verbal abusive, and reluctantly the wife relents and walks slowly to the bedroom.

The next scene shows his drinking buddy come in to visit the husband. He has some bad news. He and his wife have been given some medical results which inform them that they have contracted HIV. The husband stares blankly at his friend and says nonsensically, ‘Now why did you allow your wife to be tested? That was your first mistake!’ The audience laughs at this silly statement, but soon silence falls as the husband realizes that he and his drinking buddy have been sleeping with the same bar girl. Now he faces the dilemma of whether he himself should get tested and whether he should tell his wife that they may now have HIV. Men, women, and teenagers hear the message, and the seeds of change are sown.

Ramsy, Cedar Tanzania’s project leader of SASA confirms the strength of using drama to explore SASA’s often sensitive issues. “The message on power and violence is made simple, clear and easy to understand through the use of multiple SASA strategies, which are applied in an entertaining way; whereby different forms of violence together with their consequences are demonstrated through role play and drama.”

The village is together in this moment. Together they watch members of their own community being the actors in the drama group and being the Community Activists who are engaging the audience in thought provoking discussions. The community also sees the leaders of the village, the chairman and the police chief, stand side by side with the SASA Community Activists. This sends out a loud and clear message, that everyone, from every social strata in the village, champions this message of power balance between the sexes.

The SASA event concludes with games. These games include an egg and spoon race, a sack race and men and women racing each other to see who will be first to finish two sodas and two donuts! The audience cheers as it watches the efforts of the participants. It’s fun, it’s light hearted, it’s memorable and it’s working.

Ramsy hopes that the people of Kamanga, will in the future, ‘support women experiencing violence,’ by having, ‘men committed to change and activists who speak out against violence.’ Cedar Tanzania’s introduction of a SASA event in the village is seeing Kamanga take a big step towards making this a reality. 

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Find out more about Raising Voices and their SASA initiative.

Watch the video of the first ever SASA community event in Kamanga village.