So far, I have had over 20 people stay with me over the course of the last 6 months!!
Sometimes I feel like the person on the deserted island with new people always coming…and then always going… some being kind enough to bring me treats and goodies.. but in the end, always leaving me behind as they go back to their regular lives…. haha
However, being the only one on the island is fun sometimes because I get to hear everyone’s story as they come and go from here.. I love to know what brought them to Tanzania, what their first impression was, and in the end, hear about their entire experience and in what ways being here has changed them. I really don’t think you can leave here unchanged!
I have been able to work with many of the people who have come through here….and I tend to be the “tour guide” for the guests, seeing as I now know my way around KCMC and Moshi… and I have a car, which always helps for quick trips into town!!
For all the first-timers in Tanzania, it’s always fun sitting and talking in the evenings about our experience working at the hospital. For me, after being here for several months, the once overwhelming, or shocking things I saw don’t seem so shocking anymore because I am just getting used to things.. the way patients may look when they present with cancer, or the over-crowdedness of the wards is just the norm now.
But, every now and then you get a visitor who comes here, and re-opens your eyes to the reality of cancer here, and the importance of the work being done. You get someone who sees everything with fresh eyes, and sees the devastation of what cancer is doing to the children and the families. You get someone who is moved to tears by the sick children and the lack of treatment and hope that can be offered to them. You get someone that feels the heaviness of this disease and recognizes the urgency of providing patients with adequate treatment. And you get someone who sees the importance, value and necessity of what we are doing at the Cancer Centre. They remind me that what I am doing here matters, that even though we may not see immediate progress or improvement, the changes are happening, and they are coming.
So this Thursday I am thankful to have those people staying with me that can truly “see” and can challenge me to continue seeing things as shocking and awful, because seeing kids with massive tumors in their necks or stomachs should not just be “the norm” in Africa, and something that we just get comfortable seeing.
The work being done at the Cancer Centre gives me hope that someday massive tumors will not be the norm here, and that a cancer diagnosis can also be followed by a quality treatment plan and hope for a cure.
I am grateful for these little reminders from others, and the encouragement that even though I may be the person left on the deserted island here, its ok because the I am part of the most amazing team who is doing powerful work to fight cancer in Tanzania.
Feeling blessed and so very thankful this week!
Pictures taken by the amazing Sam Fathallah.. at http://www.samfathallah.com/