Local Havre medical group bringing health care to Tanzania villages
Last updated 3/22/2019 at 11:30am
A Havre-based group of volunteers is holding a fundraiser for a medical support trip to Tanzania.
The group of Montanans are heading to Tanzania to provide medical support in conjunction with the New Hope International Hospital Sakila Dispensary. Montanans have become an integral part of the communities in the area for several years. The group heading to Tanzania is made up of doctors, EMTs, physical therapists, nurses and physician assistants.
Dr. Carley Robertson said in a press release that, as Montanans, "we pride ourselves in lending a helping hand."
She said she wants to remind fellow Montanans a handful of ways exist to support her group, such as through financial donations and by attending a fundraiser dinner at the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line Saturday, April 6, that starts at 5 p.m. The cost of the dinner is a free-will offering. The fundraiser includes a silent auction and presentation. Some members of the group will speak on their previous experiences.
Robertson said the trip is a "perpetual camping trip." The group will travel to northern Tanzania, to a village called Sakila, which is halfway between the cities of Arusha and Moshie. They also travel to the surrounding villages, which often are not visited by medical professionals, and provide "very basic" care. They often treat acute infection and treat for parasites, which have become an endemic there.
The group also tries to teach the people working in the clinics. Robertson said the language barrier is significant, though, leading them to bring a group of teachers and church workers who act as translators as they work to connect the patients to the doctors and nurses.
Robertson said she was called upon at the last minute to go on this mission after a doctor withdrew from the team. When they first contacted her, they asked her if she wanted to go to Africa again, and she immediately said, "Yes," not knowing where or what for.
"I wanted to go back to Africa ... there is a draw for me that I don't totally understand, but I believe it comes from the Lord," she said.
The fundraiser includes a quilt auction. The quilts are made up of hundreds of dollars worth of materials and hundreds of hours of labor. The cost of the tickets are one for $5 or five for $20. Along with the quilts will be a number of tools and even a "beautifully made ladder Damascus knife," as well as a handmade knife. They will also be auctioning off hand-crafted items and photos of animals of the Serengeti, taken by professional photographer Tim Nielsen.
Robertson said she enjoys the work and likes working with the other team members, but most of all she enjoys serving those people who would not get medical care otherwise. She also enjoys the traveling.
"But to me, it is more fun to work ... travel is a 'side effect' of this work," she said.
People at the fundraiser have the opportunity to pay for or donate items during the fundraiser for the trip. Some of the items requested are vitamins, Ibuprofen, reading glasses, toothbrushes and toothpaste, antifungal cream, hand sanitizer, thermometers, BP cuffs, Portable O2 sensors, nasal spray, hydrocortisone cream and antibiotic cream.