volunteer

Chris Tucker - A Virtual Volunteer

Cedar Team - Thank You Chris Tucker.jpg

My name is Chris Tucker and I’m a 29 year old, based in the South East of England. I currently live in a small town called Maidstone, which is about an hour drive from London. I work for the National Health Service in a Creative and Digital role, working on websites and apps based around helping the public find the effective solution to help improve their own health or those they are caring for.

I had started using an online skill match-up platform called Pimp My Cause and in February 2016 I responded to a request for design support from Cedar Tanzania. I was keen to get involved in some new design projects and the prospect of supporting an organisation providing such value to the people it was working with was really appealing.

Since then I have worked on various projects for Cedar including logo design, flyers and signage. A significant collaboration came with the production of a number of design materials for the Kamanga Health Centre, which was a really exciting task to be involved with.

I take great joy in the idea that the projects I’ve been involved with can be of benefit to Cedar, thousands of miles away - this makes the world feel a little smaller in my head! It can be hard to quantify the impact of design and branding so if at the very least by giving my time I’ve helped to make some of the staff’s lives a bit easier that’s only a good thing!

I would recommend someone who was considering volunteering remotely for Cedar to go ahead and do so. The team are a pleasure to work with and clear when proposing ideas, which is always useful when working remotely. From my own perspective, I’ve been able to challenge myself and develop my skills as part of the process so it’s great that both sides can benefit from the collaboration.

Written by Virtual Volunteer Chris Tucker

The Cedar Tanzania team saying thank you to their virtual graphic designer volunteer Chris!

Update from Kamanga Health Centre

Over the last few months we’ve seen many changes and developments at Kamanga Health Centre - here are a few of the most important updates:

INCREASING PATIENT NUMBERS

There has been a significant increase in the number of patients attending KHC over the past few months! In February we had a total of 932 outpatient department attendances and 107 admissions, a huge increase on the numbers from last year. The most common conditions treated at KHC were pneumonia, gastroenteritis and typhoid.

The RCH (reproductive and child health) department has also seen an increase in patient numbers, particularly at the bustling under 5’s clinic. Here the children are weighed, vaccinated, and given essential medicines like mebedazole (which kills intestinal worms) and vitamin A (which prevents eye disease).  Whilst the mothers are waiting we provide them with education on topics such as nutrition, breastfeeding, and vaccinations.  In February alone we saw 519 children at the under 5’s clinic. It’s wonderful to see so many children receiving crucial vaccinations to keep them safe, even if they do make quite a racket!

THE NEW WARD

We realised back in November that we needed extra space to accommodate the increasing numbers of admitted patients. We only had 4 beds (2 postnatal beds and 2 medical beds) and we were often over-capacity, leading to inappropriate rooms being occupied such as the clinic rooms.  After an emergency meeting of the Cedar team we made a plan and the maintenance team got to work on converting one of the waiting rooms into a new ward.  This provided an extra 4 beds- doubling our capacity! The imaginatively named ‘New Ward’ was finished back in January and has been more or less full ever since! (I’m trying not to imagine the chaos that will ensue if we build another ward - ‘New new ward’?!)

NEW STAFF

To cope with the increasing patient demand, we have employed 12 new volunteer staff members. They have settled into the team wonderfully and, alongside the other staff, are working hard to cope with increasing patient numbers. Since we have started admitting patients all of the staff have had to adapt to working in the inpatient setting- this has involved many new procedures and protocols which ensure patients are closely monitored and receive the necessary medication during their stay. This has required a huge amount of work over the last few months, but we have managed to create a system which is working smoothly!

ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!

Kamanga Health Centre celebrated its 1 year anniversary on the 18th of January! To celebrate the big day, all the staff gathered for a post-work feast. Awards for the best staff of 2018 were given to Neema , our clinical officer, and Mussa, head of maintenance – both very well deserved! A fun evening was had – eating, drinking, and celebrating our achievements over the last year. Excited to see what year 2 has in store.

Written by Medical Volunteer Dr. Sian Ashby

Changing lives, one bring at the time

On March 1st, 1,500 bricks were delivered to Mtakuja Primary School of Kamanga.  These bricks were donated by Cedar Tanzania in an effort to help the community complete the construction of the school. 

Mtakuja Primary School was opened in January of 2019, which allowed the nearly 900 students of the other primary school located in Kamanga, Kamanga Primary School, to attend their school full time, instead of splitting classroom time with the students of Mtakuja.  However, the 800 plus students of Mtakuja are still forced to split time in the classroom, because as of today, there are only five completed classrooms to accommodate the seven primary classes, as well as the kindergarten.  The community has been struggling to construct Mtakuja Primary School since 2014, because although it is a government school, nearly all the funding has come from donations by the community at large or individual community members.

With the sixth classroom of Mtakuja nearing completion, the donated bricks will allow the community to start the construction of the seventh classroom.  The primary school will continue to be a work in progress, but these 1,500 bricks will help the community and school get one step closer to their goal of a complete eight classroom school.  A school, which once completed, will give more than 800 students aged 5 to 12 the opportunity to attend for the whole day, every day of the week.

Written by Educational Adviser and Volunteer Dylan Parkin

Mambo! Adam from the UK here!

For a long while, I had been thinking about escaping London and doing some voluntary work abroad. Having reached and exceeded the ripe old age of 30, I figured now was a good-a-time as any to do so. I have absolutely zero regrets regarding the decision I made – I have really enjoyed myself out here! Prior to joining Cedar Tanzania, I worked as a consultant for a FinTech company in London, and, prior to that, I spent 8 years in glorious Bristol, studying a MSci and PhD in chemistry.

What inspired you to volunteer with Cedar Tanzania?  

Adam Nunn - Volunteer at Cedar Tanzania Head Office in Mwanza, Tanzania

Adam Nunn - Volunteer at Cedar Tanzania Head Office in Mwanza, Tanzania

An up-to-date website is a rare thing for NGOs in these parts. It was great to get a real-time feel for the amazing and inspirational work that Cedar Tanzania are doing here in Mwanza/Nyamatongo District. I had a chance to speak to Claire, the Executive Director, who was a delight and very reassuring with regards to what I might be able to contribute to the team. The diversity of projects being run here was immediately appealing, as well as the clear vision that Cedar Tanzania sets out, which I also don't find with many other NGOs that I researched. In addition to that, I was quite keen to skip a cold, bleak, grey British winter for once.

How long is your volunteer placement?

Three and a half months.

What is your role at Cedar Tanzania? 

I'm helping transition the Cedar Tanzania Accounting Team from MS Excel to an off-the-shelf accounting software system, which will provide significant improvements to their accounting abilities as well as efficiency savings for accounting team and the NGO. I've also been involved in writing an application to a section of the Tanzanian Government and teaching some of the staff at the Kamanga Health Centre how to cook chilli con carne (which isn't strictly speaking in my job description, but it's been fun).

Can you mention highlights of some of the activities that you have been involved in whilst you have worked for Cedar?

Well, all of my colleagues are great, which is always a good start. It was immediately evident when I started working here that everyone is really passionate about their work and about delivering upon Cedar Tanzania's vision. I've been given a lot of autonomy over what I do, but with plenty of support when I've needed it. Accounting isn't a particularly glamorous job, but it's been really rewarding supporting an NGO and knowing that my small contribution helps the NGO operate more efficiently and continue to deliver their outstanding work within the Nyamatongo community.

What things have challenged you so far?

Navigating in the dark around the potholes in the pavements here. And not succumbing to the temptation of eating ‘chips mayai’* every day.

What things have you found enjoyable or surprising about Tanzanian culture either socially or at work?

I love the Tanzanian attitude to life. It's much more relaxed and friendlier than what I've experienced in the majority of Western Europe. Almost everyone here is keen to chat and seem to enjoy my very broken and limited attempts at speaking Kiswahili. No one seemed to enjoy that on the London Underground. Also, the food you find at the little hawkers dotted along the roads or in the villages is delicious, and almost everyone here is a great dancer. I'm not a great dancer, if you were wondering. But I've picked up some moves that I execute poorly.

What would you say to anyone who said that they could not volunteer because they didn't have a skill to offer?

If you are already interested in volunteering abroad, if you already have that desire to take yourself out of your comfort zone and do something different, if you want to immerse yourself in a totally different culture and give your time and energy to help others who live a very different and likely less fortunate lifestyle than yourself, then you already have what it takes to volunteer at Cedar Tanzania. There is no shortage of work to be done, no shortage of inspirational projects to get involved in, and I don't doubt that you'd have a great time volunteering here. I certainly have.

Thank you.

*Chips mayai – a Tanzanian dish of fried chips in an omelette.

Written by Mwanza Head Office Volunteer and self professed excellent chilli con carne chef, Adam Nunns