Today was an emotional day
Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Today was an emotional day. Our journey took us 45-50 km out of Iringa over roads that defy description. We were jostled up and down, left and right, forward and backwards over unpaved dirt roads that give new meaning to the word rocky. There was a constant jiggling of muscle and fat tissue so we figured we had a one-hour work out and never left the car.
Our first stop was Fr. Mloma’s mission parish Mt. Mary Magdalena. It is a complex of buildings providing spiritual as well as medical services. In addition, the parish includes 22 out stations serving 30,000+ Catholics with two priests. As seen in other parts of Tanzania, the church does more than provide mass and spiritual services. The compound included a clinic with a doctor on staff. Here babies are delivered; mothers given well-baby instruction; care provided in a small hospital for those who need to stay to recuperate. All this with a “laboratory” that included only a microscope.
On the way to the out station, we passed through the center of Kilolo, population 2,000, on an unpaved, rocky road reminiscent of the dust bowl. This out station is one of the closer of the 22 stations yet it took us half an hour to get there. Out stations are villages in remote areas where families gather in small Christian communities to pray. With one day’s notice, a group from Lulanzi out station gathered to welcome the Americans. The village is so remote that 35 adults of varying ages had never met an American. They were curious and friendly. After a brief question and answer period translated by Fr. Ulungi and Fr. Mlomo, we prayed together holding hands. We prayed prayers common to our believe in the language we knew: Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be. It was such a moving experience.
Back on the road, we headed to Tosamaganga to the orphanage. Oh what a greeting we received! The orphanage houses 85 children, 19 under two years of age. It seemed all who could walk came running to swarm us. They were smiling and asking to be picked up or hanging on to our hands before someone else could. Shikamoo is a term children use to show respect to their elders.. When the child says “Shimakmoo” the adult lowers his head for the children to touch and responds “Marahaba.” This process went on for 20 minutes as each child wanted to honor each of their guests. They were so starved for attention. Charlie and Terry entertained them by putting their sunglasses on individual children. They loved it! They wanted mostly to be picked up and hugged. We delivered games appropriate to the age group and taught them how to use a yoyo. We left them with chocolate covered smiles from the candy we distributed.
Last stop for the day was a Catholic hospital with a nursing academy. The nursing students, all 31 of them, sang and danced their greeting to us and were delighted to have their picture taken with the mgeni (visitors.) The director of nursing provided the tour of the hospital. The inpatient capacity is 140 and the outpatient slightly over 200 visits per day. All we could think for the patients was ugua pole. (get well soon)
Stan was our host for dinner and he prepared a typical African meal, most of which we had already sampled. Pilaou has become one of my favorites, but we also tried ugali, a Tanzanian staple. It is made from corn flour and water. Roll it into a ball and put a small hole in the middle, then use it to scoop beans or vegetables and eat! It was quite good.
Today’s bio appropriately is John Simon Mosha, MD who is chairperson of the parish council of Sacred Heart parish.
Dr. Mosha specialized in public health and medical education. He has served as District Medical Officer, Coordinator of US Aid, a program to support district health systems in maternal and child health, and malaria case management and family planning. “In my six years of leadership in the parish, what is missing is going outside the box. A partnership would be very useful.”