Peace Corps Global Health Service Partnership Dodoma, Tanzania
From July of 2014 through July of 2016, Hannah was a volunteer nurse educator with the Peace Corps Global Health Service Partnership in Dodoma, Tanzania. During her first year, she was placed at Mirembe School of Nursing. Mirembe is a diploma level nursing program that sits on the campus of the only mental health hospital in the country of Tanzania. Hannah extended for a second year and was relocated to the University of Dodoma on the other side of the town. The University of Dodoma is a young institution that is considered the third largest academic facility in the continent of Africa, where students from diploma, bachelorette, masters and doctoral level programs are taught in different schools of study. Throughout the course of both years, her work was split between the academic classroom setting and working with and mentoring students in the clinical setting. After logging many hours at the regional referral center located in this town, Hannah also began working on projects directly with her Tanzanian colleagues at the hospital as well. As a visiting faculty member of these two institutions, she was privileged to learn so much about the full circle of nursing education to nursing practice in Tanzania.
Prior to her service in Tanzania, Hannah had worked primarily in emergency department settings in the United States. In Tanzania, two to three days a week she taught in the classroom and two to four days a week, she and anywhere from sixty to two hundred and fifty students would go to the hospital. Most days in the classroom, there would not be electricity to use PowerPoint and the students did not have nursing books. Most days at the hospital, patient’s families did not have the resources to buy medication, supplies were in limited quantity and most wards had three patients per bed. Some days this felt like a challenge that she couldn’t imagine successfully navigating, until she realized that she was not alone in the struggle she felt. Hannah and her students decided that they all had the opportunity to find solutions rather than focusing on the vastness of the problems. They started small with post-clinical mentoring where they would meet under a tree at the hospital and discuss patient cases and their questions for hours.
In nursing, in sub-Saharan Africa, maternal child health is a topic that gets discussed in most conversations. Hannah was involved in a midwifery class her first year, but it was during her second year that she found her reasons for later returning to the United States to continue her education at the University of Pennsylvania. She vividly remembers the first time that she entered the labor ward, as it was a day she would not soon forget.