On TV in Tanzania

All Eyes on Progress of Olmoti Clinic

A new clinic, health center, and school are transforming this Maasai village. Click the image to watch the video.

Our decade of work with the Maasai received tremendous recognition this summer. Hundreds of Maasai, Tanzanian officials, and guests came for a grand celebration of our health and education programs—including our new surgery Health Center and the completion of our 7-grade elementary school.

Dr. Diane Raleigh, CEO, and board member Susan Finlay Marrinan were on hand with our medical and education staff to greet guests, including the Honorable Josephat Kandege, representative in the president's office, and Honorable Dr. Steven Lotuses, member of Parliament.

A jubilant day of Maasai singing and dancing accompanied the speeches and facility tours. The Olmoti community's dignity, pride, and support for our ongoing projects are truly inspirational.

Please help us bring life-saving healthcare, education, and employment opportunities to this remarkable community.

DONATE

A Visiting Doctor's Lessons

Dr. Jenny Bass treats a child at Olmoti Clinic

Dr. Jenny Bass treats a child at Olmoti Clinic

Dr. Jennifer Bass of Portland, Oregon, has published a moving article about her time volunteering at Olmoti Clinic this past summer, an experience, she says, that “rekindled my joy in being a pediatrician.”

“I have been a pediatrician for more than 20 years and love my chosen profession,” she writes in her article “Teachable Moments from the Maasai” in the journal Academic Pediatrics. But she’s sometimes felt “underappreciated” -- spending too much energy with parents who refuse vaccines, pressured by short, rushed visits, pushed to see more patients, chained to electronic chartHer experience with the Maasai could not have been more different – though initially she had some doubts: “What could I really do to help?” she writes. “How would I manage without my computer, access to online resources, and similar colleagues? How would I relate to people who were so different?”

Her worries soon faded. She treated 100 children over four days, some coming from as far away as Kenya to see a western doctor. The clinic’s medical officer, Peter, served as translator.  

“Unlike my practice in the United States, where my medical assistant asks for the chief complaint, takes the vital signs, and has the patient undress, Peter and I did everything ourselves,” Dr. Bass writes. “Freed from extensive charting, almost all our time was focused on engaging with patients” and using observation skills needed in the absence of electronic records and staff help. Most common were respiratory conditions caused by indoor open-fire cooking. She advised Olmoti’s staff on current standard-of-care medicines.

“I had no set schedule and no agenda other than addressing the current issues that each family brought to me,” Dr. Bass recalls. “The line stretched far out the door, but people waited calmly, without impatience. Working under these conditions was a pleasure. It reminded me of the reasons I became a pediatrician and taught me to stop worrying so much about time.”

“For most families, I offered reassurance that everything appropriate was being done for their child. Even though I often didn’t do or add much, the families seemed to feel better after a visit with me. At the end of each child’s exam, parents would thank me, and say a Maasai expression that meant sorry for bothering you.”

“For the Maasai, I was a connection to Western medicine, a healer, and a teacher.” She’s carried a bit of Maasai culture home, both in the beaded, jingly necklace the people gave her, and in her approach with her patients -- taking a bit more time to sit with them. “I will read part of a book with the younger ones or talk with the older ones about what they like to do for fun.”

Working with the Maasai, she says, “reminded me of the special power that comes with being a physician. As pediatricians, parents trust us with their children.”

Read Dr. Bass’ full article here

Volunteer Doctor Conducts HIV Screening

HIV specialist Dr. Joe Caperna.

HIV specialist Dr. Joe Caperna.

 

The Olmoti community and surrounding villages received a vital new medical service this summer, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Joe Caperna, an HIV specialist from San Diego. Visiting the region through Olmoti Clinic's arrangements, Dr. Caperna engaged a highly receptive community in a once-taboo subject: HIV-AIDS. The doctor conducted 10 days of educational outreach and testing.

He tested hundreds of people and we were happy to find just small incidence of the disease: Of 743 men, women and children tested, Dr. Caperna found six HIV cases, an encouraging result at less than 1 percent of the population.

During the educational presentations, the Maasai asked many questions about prevention, treatment and consequences for sex and reproduction. It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of this milestone – bringing these topics into the open – for the health of the community. Now the Maasai in this region are prepared to decrease the stigma and take advantage of prevention and treatment advances for an HIV-free environment.

A Village Center Emerges

Aerial view of the new Health Center

Aerial view of the new Health Center

 
 

The construction of our new Health Center, with surgery facilities and wards, has been truly exciting, and an aerial view shows just how dramatically our work has changed Olmoti. Where once there was only windswept scrub, a village center has emerged. The community uses our school and clinic for meetings and organizing as well as for health needs and to educate 240 children!

The photo shows the three new buildings (under construction in this photo, but completed since) and our Olmoti clinic forming a quad in the foreground. In the background are the medical staff housing, doctor's house, teachers' housing, and on the far right our primary school!