Volunteer for Cedar Tanzania

Sian at World AIDS Day in Kamanga Health Centre

Hi everyone.

My name is Sian Ashby, and I am a GP (family doctor) from the UK. I was brought up in the beautiful Scottish borders, studied Medicine at Glasgow University and then completed my GP training in London. I had always wanted to work abroad as a doctor, so after finishing my GP training I chose to study the Diploma of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool, and it was here that I first heard about Cedar Tanzania.

1.    What inspired you to volunteer with Cedar Tanzania? 

I was struck by Cedar Tanzania’s holistic approach to care. On looking at their website, I could see that they understood the importance of health and well-being in a broad sense, rather than being entirely disease-focussed. Cedar approaches community well-being from many angles - health, education, female empowerment and entrepreneurship - and understands that tackling all of these factors is crucial if the community is to flourish.

From my research it seemed that Kamanga Health Centre, the health centre jointly run by Cedar Tanzania and the government, was a good fit for a GP, as there were many parallels in the types of patients seen. Of course, I knew that there would also be tropical illnesses which I had never encountered, and I hoped that I might increase my knowledge of tropical medicine by working in Tanzania.

On contacting Cedar, I found the staff to be welcoming and accommodating. They were keen and enthusiastic about my voluntary placement and this naturally increased my own excitement!

2.    How long is your volunteer placement?  6 months provisionally.

3.    What is your role at Cedar Tanzania?

My official title is ‘Volunteer Health Centre Advisor’. It’s a fairly flexible role, but for the most part I am working alongside the Quality Assurance Officer at Kamanga Health Centre, putting policies in place to improve the quality of care. I also work alongside the Tanzanian clinical staff, exchanging knowledge and skills, and I give regular teaching sessions. I hope that as my Swahili improves I will be able to practice medicine independently at the health centre.

4.    Can you mention highlights of some of the activities that you have been involved in whilst you have worked for Cedar?

We have recently set up a teaching program here at Kamanga Health Centre and one of my personal highlights was the neonatal resuscitation training which I ran. We used dolls to role-play and simulate neonatal resuscitation, which was both fun and educational. At the health centre we deliver on average one baby a day (and the numbers are increasing) so it is vitally important that the staff are well trained on how to react if a newborn baby does not breath spontaneously.

Another highlight was the World Aids Day Fair organised by Cedar Tanzania. At the fair there were stalls offering HIV counselling and testing, free condoms, and information about the health centre and Cedar Tanzania projects. There was dancing, drama, and even a ‘catch-the-chicken’ game. But most importantly over 500 people were tested for HIV in a safe and non-judgemental environment.

5.    What things have challenged you so far?

One of the main challenges has been the language barrier. I am currently learning Swahili but it is a slow process... I find it incredibly frustrating not being able to understand the patients, particularly if they are distressed and in need of assistance. I am constantly running around trying to find someone to translate which gets quite exhausting!

The health centre staff do speak English but many are not fluent, so we too have trouble communicating. Getting to the root of an issue is much more difficult when you do not speak the same language! If you are considering coming out to Tanzania, I would advise you to start learning Swahili as early as possible!

The other main challenge which I have noticed is the difference in healthcare economics. Coming from the UK, I am used to the National Health Service (NHS) which provides free healthcare for all UK citizens. Treatment is entirely based on need and not on personal finances. However, here in Tanzania there is a division – those who are exempt and those that have to pay for healthcare. The exempt group includes pregnant women, children under five years old, people over the age of 60 who cannot support themselves and people with chronic diseases like HIV and TB.

Although treatment at Kamanga Health Centre is relatively cheap (government prices), for those not in the exempt group, we still have to make management decisions based partly on the patient’s finances, which is something I find difficult. Sometimes patients cannot follow your advice because they simply cannot afford to. For example, we recently saw a patient with a large abdominal mass who required onward referral to a specialist hospital. However she could not afford to attend the hospital and pay the fee for the necessary imaging and surgery. Instead she returned a week later, the mass having increased in size and the pain having subsequently worsened. This is truly heartbreaking to see, and makes me really value the NHS.

6.    What things have you found enjoyable or surprising about Tanzanian culture either socially or at work?

The Tanzanian people are incredibly welcoming. The health centre staff have been wonderfully accommodating and friendly towards me since my arrival and I have really enjoyed working here thus far.

Socially I love the culture of dancing.  In general Tanzanians seem to have a fantastic sense of rhythm and tend to be incredible dancers! The staff at the health centre have been trying to teach me (without much luck).

Through my work I have noticed that Tanzanian families are much more close-knit than at home. Grandparents usually live together in the house with the parents and children, and they help to care for each other. I think that this is something which has sadly been lost in the UK. I certainly noticed as a GP in London that I visited many elderly people whose children lived thousands of miles away and who were thus unable to care for them. I noticed a huge burden of loneliness, particularly amongst the elderly, but also amongst young people living and working in London- a city with so many people! Perhaps we need to regain the closeness of families and communities in order to reduce the escalating rates of loneliness, anxiety and depression in the UK.

To counter this, I have noticed that here in Tanzania there is very little, if anything, in the way of social support for those without the means to look after themselves. So if, as an elderly or disabled person, you do not have a supportive family then there is no support network to help you survive. We have encountered some difficult cases of disabled patients who have been mistreated or neglected, and this is very challenging work. This is why the work of CBR (the community-based rehabilitation project  run by Cedar Tanzania) is so important in providing support for those with disabilities.

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

Most people have something to offer. Speak to the Cedar Tanzania team and find out what skills they are looking for! It’s a really rewarding and fun place to work!

If Sian’s experience has whet your appetite to volunteer for Cedar Tanzania then begin the journey with this first step, contact us.












Sandvik donate 10 PCs to Cedar Tanzania

Great donation of 10 desktop- PCs from Sandvik Mining Tanzania

2019 is sure starting on a high following the donation of 10 desktop- PCs from Sandvik Mining Tanzania.

The company, which belongs to Sandvik Group, a global engineering group from Sweden, gifted Cedar Tanzania the devices on December 4, 2018. Sandi Zaranyika, Managing Director, and Vice president of Sales, Daniel Banister, visited Kamanga Health Centre to deliver the computers and to hear more how the Kamangan community would benefit from this extraordinary gift.

The main focus of the donation is to support educational outcomes for the people of Kamanga region. To this end, Cedar Tanzania’s Education Project Manager Dylan Parkin will be involved in designing and implementing educational programmes for the community, with a special focus on integrating the PCs.  While these education projects are still very much in the developmental stages, it is clear that these PCs will prove very beneficial - whether through literacy programmes used to boost the literacy level of community members or through basic computer skills courses to teach general computer skills useful in a variety of work fields, boosting employability.

Cedar Tanzania is grateful to Sandvik for this and previous in-kind and monetary donations as part of a long-standing relationship. Donations like these are vital to ensuring we continue to provide sustainable services in Nyamatongo Ward, and to execute our common vision.

As we begin the New Year, we look forward to using the computers within upcoming projects, ultimately helping the Nyamatongo community help themselves.

If, like Sandvik, you would like to Donate educational or medical equipment then  please feel free to contact us here.

Thank you.

Save a baby. Every Day. You did it!

Nina from ACT! Australia for Cedar Tanzania Crowdfunding on social media platforms.

Here at Cedar Tanzania we want to wish you many happy returns for the New Year! And we hope that 2019 has begun well for you and your family.

We celebrated December 2018 with you and experienced your overwhelming kindness through our crowdfunding  campaign “Save a baby. Every day”.

Imagine being pregnant and in labour and having to go on the back of a motorbike for 2 hours on a dusty and pothole strewn dirt road with no street lights to get to the nearest hospital. Not comfortable, and not safe at all. 

This was the reality for many pregnant women living in Kamanga before Kamanga Health Centre was built. We currently average a birth a day at Kamanga Health Centre and although we all wish for every child birth to be perfect sometimes a newborn baby needs that little extra bit of help to take their first breath.  

Even though we wished to give the best level of care to everyone seeking medical assistance at KHC, we realised that our newborn babies could really benefit from a neonatal resuscitation table – a place to keep the newborn safe, resuscitated, warm and surrounded by other life saving equipment within the doctor’s reach.

Therefore we decided to reach out and raise money – AUD $5,400 was needed to purchase the resuscitation table.  

A crowdfunding campaign on Chuffed.org was created and the news about our project spread like rings in water through social media.

Amazingly we did not only reach our target but surpassed it and raised AUD $8,370. The extra funds will enable us to buy not only the resuscitation table but also 2 baby bassinets AND a storage trolley for the resuscitation table itself. This will make a massive difference in the way we can help every newborn baby at Kamanga Health Centre.

We are grateful to everyone of you who helped make this a reality. Every donation and every share on social media helped us a long way.  

We owe special thanks to Bamboo Rock Drilling who donated AUD $3,465. Thank you so much!

At this very moment we are in the process of ordering the equipment and we are expecting everything to be with us in the next few months. We will of course keep you updated on the progress of the shipment of the equipment and share with you once we have it all ready to use.

Once again, thank you! You are making a difference!

Save a baby, every day!

Meet Nina. She lived in Mwanza for 13 years and witnessed firsthand the daily struggles of living in rural Tanzania.

Now living in Perth, Australia Nina has spearheaded a charity called Australia for Cedar Tanzania (ACT).  She works closely with Cedar Tanzania, by supporting it to raise awareness of their funding needs. This is to ensure that Cedar Tanzania is able to continue its life changing projects in the Nyamatongo community.   

Nina’s first campaign as Founder and President of ACT is to help Cedar Tanzania crowdfund in order to raise AUD $5,400 (or USD $4,100). These funds  will purchase a neonatal resuscitation table for Kamanga Health Centre.

We currently average a birth a day at Kamanga Health Centre and although we all wish for every child birth to be perfect sometimes a newborn needs that little extra push to begin life. 

Right now, our first instance of help consists of a small foam mattress on a table. Not quite optimal for providing oxygen and first level of care.

Support Cedar Tanzania as they crowdfund for baby resuscitation equipment

Here’s what we’re doing about it

Neonatal Resuscitation Table

Neonatal Resuscitation Table

Cedar Tanzania would love to purchase a Neonatal Resuscitation table to be able to give all the babies in Kamanga a great start in life. 

With this table and machine we can make sure baby is warm and comfortable and has the ability to take the first breath of life.

Having a Neonatal Resuscitation table will save babies. Every day!

You can join us

We need your help to make this equipment a reality. Imagine these were your circumstances. Help us save a baby. Every day.

We need AUD $5,400 (or USD $4,100) to purchase this equipment. Any additional funds will be used for shipping and import and for other life saving equipment for Kamanga Health Centre. 

Are you ready to join Nina and Cedar Tanzania “Save a baby, every day!” https://chuffed.org/project/save-a-baby-every-day


Look at these amazing perks that you can receive for your kind donation: 

$50 Hall of Fame

We'll put your name on the website, forever, to say thanks for helping out. Amazing!


$100 Greeting from a Mother

A photo with a greeting from one of the mothers in Kamanga, AND your name listed on our website.


$500 Celebrate

Limited to 5!

Celebrate your awesomeness with some Tanzanian bunting!

AND you get a photo with a greeting from one of the mothers in Kamanga AND your name listed on our website.


$1,000 You did it! Throw a party!

Limited to 5!

To help you throw a party to celebrate your generosity we will throw in a Tanzanian reversible apron and matching oven gloves!

AND you will also get some Tanzanian bunting AND a photo with a greeting from one of the mothers in Kamanga, AND your name listed on our website.


“Save a baby, every day!” https://chuffed.org/project/save-a-baby-every-day