A Great Experience

Aditi Kapoor and Célia Sutter, physioterapist

It is crazy to think that our stay at Saint Joseph has already coming to an end! Time flies.
We wish we could say that our Swahili skills have improved over the last week but sadly we are still confused on the salutations to people we pass. Mambo for kids; jambo as in what’s up; habari as a polite hello and shikamo as a greeting for all elders (shikamo mama for all women and shikamo bibi for all grandmothers above 60 and for the men shikamo baba and shikamo babu for all grandpas above 60). We almost have it down! The next level of complication is trying to figure out what to reply. Whenever we think we have it down, someone comes back at us with a new reply. Swahili is an impressive and never ending language to learn.

This week we continued to have our early morning time with Fides to continue reviewing specific topics of her choosing. We perfected lumbar evaluation and manual therapy techniques as treatment, ULNT, shoulder evaluations and treatments, muscle release techniques and stretches, transverse stabilisation and progression to the exercice itself and we also scanned the thorax evaluation and treatment. Fides thanked us for what she is able to learn and practice especially since she says she might have a student follow her soon so this is great review for her. She says she will miss us! Asante sana (thank you so much).

Some interesting facts and observations about our week at the hospital:
– the power seems to go off at least 1-2x/day for a short period of time and no one even blinks twice about this happening anymore.

– The physiotherapist seems to also cross paths with other healthcare professionals work here: for example Fides will change dressings on a wound, monitor vital signs and even apply/make casts.

– No appointments are given to outpatients. They simply tell Fides they will be back next Tuesday for example and we never know at what time to expect them. This means that sometimes we have no one waiting for a physiotherapy session whereas other times we have 3 clients cued up outside to receive their treatments. However no one seems to mind the wait as this still goes with the slow pace of life here in East Africa.

– Patients are extremely appreciative of the treatments they receive and the help that is given to them by the doctors and healthcare professionals.

– Fun cell phone fact: you are only a true Tanzanian when you have at least two cell phones on you! And it is very common here for both the doctors/physiotherapist and the patients to answer their phones mid treatment session.

– The way each family helps and assists their elders for us was eye opening to see. We found it so touching to see how one family member will reach over the next bed and help the next patient that is in need regardless of not knowing them. The way everyone treats each other as part of their own family was one of the many parts of the culture that we loved discovering.

What a great experience we have had here at Saint Joseph. We thank everyone for the lovely experience and we will miss our lovely little Harrison but we know he, and all other patients, will be in good hands and well received here at the hospital!