Today was quite a long day. I almost didn’t want to post because I’m pretty exhausted and a little sunburned. However, I didn’t want to forget anything that happened. So, I’m fighting through the urge to crawl into bed and writing this post.
Today, I went to Sanzawa. If you remember from before, it’s a good two hour ride to get there, and at least half of the way is on unpaved roads. Plus, it’s still the rainy season, and so many parts of the road were flooded (thank God for 4 wheel drive!). The purpose of our trip was to do interviews for a documentary World Vision is doing about it’s project in the Dodoma region. We visited several homes and two clinics. The first home was of a lady with a very healthy baby. Everyone in the neighborhood was very curious about us filming–both the camera and the mzungu (me, the only white person for miles). The lady’s mother was very hospitable and even gave me a watermelon! I can’t wait to eat it (maybe tomorrow, when I can call some of my expat friends to see if they have a large knife). We also filmed her at one of the health clinics getting her baby weighed. Many women were waiting at the clinic with their babies to be seen, and most of them looked very healthy!
We then traveled to a different health clinic to interview one of the health workers. She spoke English very well. You could tell a difference between the women at the first and second clinics. The first thing I noticed was how drastically different the facial features were. The second thing I noticed was the language. In both cases, not all the women spoke Swahili. At the second clinic, though, almost none of the women spoke Swahili. They mostly spoke Gogo, which is a language with clicks. The third thing I noticed was that the women and children at the second clinic were not as well nourished. The babies didn’t have pudgy cheeks, and all of the women were very thin.
After leaving the second clinic, we traveled to another ladies house. When we stopped the car, I had no idea where we would be going. First, we walked through a field of sunflowers. Then, we walked through the brush, and then we walked through a millet field. Thankfully, an older lady was guiding us the way through. Otherwise, we would have definitely gotten lost. We came to a house where several women and children were sitting around, including the lady we were going to interview. So, we follow her and our guide through another millet field to this ladies house. We interview her and her husband.
Technically, this was supposed to be our last interview of the day. However, we decided to do one more after the older lady told us of a family nearby. This family had recently lost their two month old baby because of malnutrition. When we approached the house of this last family, it was quickly evident the whole family was malnourished. All of the children’s bellies were distended, and the adults around did not look well. We interviewed the mother first. Even though I couldn’t understand what she was saying, her pain over the loss of her baby was very apparent. Then, we were going to interview the father. We start following him though their field and stop suddenly. The sun is in my eyes, and so I don’t immediately see the reason we have stopped. He has brought us to the baby’s grave. I had to look away and take a few deep breaths to pull myself together. It was heartbreaking to be there, knowing this baby didn’t have to die. In this part of Tanzania, lack of education about proper diet (eating enough of the right kinds of foods, breastfeeding, etc) is a major contributing factor to malnutrition.
So, after a 12+ hour day of being in the car on bumpy roads, in the sun, and hearing heart wrenching stories, I think I’m ready for bed.