The Wonderful Staff of FAME… I’m sure I’ve spoken of the fantastic staff at FAME previously, but spending time in the cantina this evening while watching them prepare mandazi with Thu and Paulina made me realize how easy it is to forget what it takes to make a facility like FAME run smoothly. Most of the staff have been here from the very beginning and it is easy to see on a daily basis how incredibly dedicated they are to Frank and Susan, FAME, the patients we see and to the community in general. Ema and George have helped me so many times with my vehicles here, whether it be for a flat tire, pulling me out of the mud after being sunken to my axles, or towing me back to FAME from the Crater entrance after our clutch disintegrated one unfortunate morning. It really isn’t those times that come to mind, though, when I think of them – it is the wonderful greetings I receive from them every morning when I arrive and throughout the day that remind me that this is a family here and not just an ordinary work place.
Jacob, Mary, Veronica and Sokoine, who sit in reception and keep the outpatient clinic running smoothly every single day despite the tremendous growth we’ve seen at FAME over the six years I’ve been coming. They must triage the patients and determine who we need to see as opposed as the regular clinic patient which can be an incredibly tough job. And even though we see patients who may point to their joints when we ask “shida na nini,” it is easy to remember how tough their job can be at times. Mama Mshana and Safi are the head nurses that run the hospital wards that now number two and can handle a total of 24 patients. The second ward is primarily for maternity so we have a constant flow of mothers and babies including premies like the little Maasai boy we have there now. They are in charge of a fantastic group of nurses that round with us every morning and take such incredible care of their patients. And how can I forget Brad, who is in charge of education for both nurses and doctors and though he has been here for less than a year, it seems like he’s been here from the beginning as well. FAME’s lab, which was built and is run by Joyce, a long-term volunteer who lives here nine months of the year and is home in the States for the other three, has Anthony, our Tanzanian director, Julius and Fatuma, all of whom have been here for many years. They run an amazing facility considering it is in rural Tanzania where we have immediate access to automated blood counts, chemistries and assorted other labs. The residents are amazed at how quickly our results return which is always faster than it is at home. They even ran a solar powered portable lab during our trips to Lake Eyasi for mobile clinics that had most everything other than the automated testing.
The clinical officers that I have worked with most closely and have been here for so long are Dr. Isaac, Dr. Ken and Dr. Anne – they are sponges for knowledge and working with them is a privilege each and every time. Dr. Ivan, who I have worked with since the beginning as a clinical officer and recently returned from two years of Assistant Medical Officer School has always been a steady resource for me regarding local medical information. Dr. Gabriel, the MD I have worked with here has always shown a keen interest in learning as much as he can from us when we’re around. I have enjoyed working with him on our mobile clinics to Lake Eyasi where we took long hikes during our free time into the hills surrounding Gidamilanda.
I cannot forget to mention William Mhapa, who I began working with as an outreach coordinator for my neurology mobile clinics and who is also the main HR person at FAME now because he is so qualified. Without him, our mobile clinics would not have been as successful as they have been in the past. Eva, who has been our housekeeper here from day one, takes such amazing care of us with nearly daily laundry and even making our shoes spotless from time to time given the orange mud and dust we have here. As I’m typing this, Hamsi just ran by our house to the check the borehole below to make sure our water supply is safe. He is definitely the hardest working individual here at FAME as he never stops and essentially keeps the place running whether it be the water supply or the garden for our food that is made every day for the staff.
And that brings me to the kitchen. Samweli is our head cook who I have known now for five years and does a wonderful job running the kitchen that makes the daily lunch for all the staff here seven days a week as well as dinners Monday through Friday for all the volunteers that are brought to our houses and ready for us at the end of the day. This afternoon, they Julianna and Eliza were making mandazi for tea tomorrow and they had agreed to show Paulina and Thu how to make them. They are essentially like a beignet from New Orleans with a little bit of spice added and are deep fried. Freshly cooked and warm they are simply amazing. They are still delicious the following day, though, and are the highlight of our morning chai masala (African spiced tea) which is served every morning from at around 10:30 to 11:00.
I am certain that I’ve forgotten to mention more than one of the amazing staff here at FAME and it is not for the fact that they have gone unnoticed. It is only that I cannot immediately recall every one of the lovely people that I have worked with over the last six years while volunteering at FAME. And I have not even begun to mention those volunteers who I have had the honor to work with at various times. And then there is Frank and Susan, Caroline, Joyce, Paulina, Will, Nancy, Jeanne who are the staff that have made it possible for me to have changed my career and who keep this organization running so that I can continue to return time and time again.
We also made another delivery of baby blankets to our new babies on the ward from the last day. Mildred Staten and her group in Philadelphia are now quite popular here with the new mothers and babies. The babies are not given names until well after their birth so on the wards they are all generic and called either “baby girl of…” or “baby boy of…”, but are still the cutest thing this side of Arusha!