“Theirs is unbearable pain: mothers and fathers recounting their helplessness to alleviate the hunger of their children – hunger often compounded by the rigors of malaria, breathlessness of pneumonia, and lethargy of prolonged malnutrition. I scramble to offer assistance, but there is no end to their need. The difficulty is knowing how to help most effectively.”
Charlotte White, a nurse practitioner from Wichita, lives in Tanzania. She took seriously the challenge of African healthcare by participating in the INMED International Medicine & Public Health Intensive Course. “I realized I have so much to learn about the people I want to serve. It is very tempting for us as western-schooled healthcare providers to think our way of doing things is the only way - or at least the best way. This approach really doesn’t work.”
I was trained to rely upon modern technology, for example, for diagnosis. But here the only tools are history and a good physical assessment. And just because I’m a healthcare professional, does not mean I am automatically trusted. Here among the Maasai people we begin by building relationships with leaders of villages, tribes and districts. This requires ample time, patience, language learning, and communicating the humanness of caring. The women in this culture have very difficult lives, but only now am I able to visit women and offer education about nutrition, hygiene, and small micro-enterprise projects.
“And what about relieving the hunger that causes parents to fear their children’s death? This compels us to focus on community development – a subject we barely touched in graduate school. Our health intervention in Tanzania includes vegetable gardening, accessing safe drinking water, and encouraging Tanzania pastors who teach their people biblical virtues that also improve their health. Our approach is holistic.
“We must always be humble students of the culture if we aim to relieve and prevent suffering. The INMED staff did a great job of integrating these truths into the INMED International Medicine & Public Health Intensive Course. As a result of those weeks of study and skill stations I feel more prepared to take on the challenges I face everyday in Tanzania. I am hopeful that you who are passionate about international health and medical missions will take advantage of this course so that one day no one must hear their children cry ‘We will die.’”
Charlotte White and her husband Thane are located in the city of Arusha, Tanzania – directly south of Nairobi in East Africa. Thane is engaged in micro-enterprise and water development, while Charlotte leads health and family innovations in this region racked by HIV/AIDS. They both are actively learning Swahili. Please follow their progress at http://web.me.com/oursafari and discover how you can undergird their exemplary service.