At the end of 2010 I spent over three months in Tanzania to see the work of Njokuti Foundation and to evaluate their support in this East-African country. As a cultural anthropologist I previously conducted research in Kenya and Guatemala and in the future I will be doing research in Uganda. Spending a couple of months in Tanzania was a good experience and after arrival back in Holland I reported my findings to the board of Njokuti Foundation.
A few days after my arrival in Tanzania I join the outreach team of the ALMC hospital when they are visiting children with orthopaedic disabilities in the beautiful Longido area in northern Tanzania. A couple of days later I see some of these children back at the ‘plasterhouse’ in Arusha. In this centre dozens of children are awaiting surgery or are recovering from an operation that has usually be done in the ALMC hospital in Arusha. During most of my visits the young boys and girls are playing soccer, the plaster or the crutches don’t seem to hinder them in their games.
While staying in Tanzania I observe how the activities of Njokuti are embedded in the Tanzanian health system. I am impressed by the good work that is being done by the foundation. Together with the Flying Medical Service I visit the hospital in Makiungu, where Njokuti has set up the ‘Club Foot Fund’, which enables clubfoot-surgery. The attending nuns in the hospital perform their work with great commitment.
I also visit the Haydom Hospital, an 8-hour, bumpy bus-ride away from Arusha. The director and the present surgeon are very happy with the interest of Njokuti and plans are made for possible further cooperation.
People in Huduma ya Walemavu, the rehabilitation centre in Monduli, are also pleased with the attention from Njokuti Foundation. ‘It all started here’, director Mireille Kapimila tells me, referring to the first child –a boy called Njokuti- being operated by Njokuti’s orthopaedist Harry de Vries.
At the end of my stay I visit the Olkokola Vocational Training Center and am impressed with the way young disabled people are being trained here. I feel the same admiration when visiting Sibusiso a few days later, while seeing the commitment of the Dutch director Josje Reinartz’s to young children with a mental handicap.
It feels good being in Tanzania and to be able to see the work that is being done with the support of Njokuti Foundation. After having returned to Holland I write my findings in a report, with lots of praise for the foundation and some suggestions for future policy. One of the new things being introduced after my evaluation is the ‘Cultural Café’, where the enthusiastic members of the Njokuti-team are getting further training and the possibility to ask questions and talk about their experiences.
It has been with great pleasure that I spent a some months in Tanzania, and in the future I would be happy to stay involved with the activities of Njokuti Foundation.
Writen by: Karin van Bemmel