Ahhh, back in Moshi, my home away from home. It’s funny how familiar everything feels, even though we stay in hotels. I stay at the familiar Bristol Cottages, where Mama Sakina and Mr. Aggarwal and the staff take good care of me. I also have my friends Mei and Joelle, transplants from Chengdu, China and Southern California (respectively) who always welcome me back. They speak Kiswahili and know the lay of the land. It is always good to have advice and guidance from two local strong, sassy and experienced women who are also living far away from their native homes.
Plus, Mei owns Panda Restaurant in Moshi and cooks us real home-style Chinese meals. She uses winter melon and greens from her own garden. And she makes amazing fresh tofu each day!!! How spoiled can you get: fresh tofu and Chinese greens in the mountains of Tanzania.
Joelle first landed in Moshi to teach at an NGO secondary school focused on providing education to the most vulnerable young people (often orphans). She’s now moved on to a women’s village health and empowerment project in Shimbwe, a mountain village near Moshi. I am hoping to link Joelle and the women in Shimbwe to a potential microfinancing project in which the women would make cool accessories out of Tanzanian fabric to be distributed by a San Francisco-based textile artist.
The training in Moshi went as well as a training goes. There were 15 relatively interested and engaged participants from the Kilimanjaro region – lots of rural mountainous villages. As usual, the participants were a mix of nurses, clinical officers and medical officers of highly variable experience, English proficiency and background knowledge on HIV care and treatment. There were no pharmacists this time, though there should be. Happily, as a group, they seemed to understand some key concepts (antiretrovirals, TB diagnosis and treatment, treatment failure, paediatric HIV issues…) and did remarkably better on their post-training exam than on their pre-training exam. I only hope that they are able to remember what they learned and take it back to the health centres in which they work. That’s what really counts.