It seems like only yesterday that we were climbing the slopes of Kilimanjaro along with setting up the first EEG studies at FAME. But alas, it’s almost March again which means another trip to visit my second family at FAME and with the Tembas in Njiro, near Arusha. We had such an amazing trip in October, and not just because of our incredible experience on Kilimanjaro. Rather for the hard work that everyone put into the program to make it the absolute most productive both from a patient care standpoint as well as educational for the caregivers at FAME, which, after all, is the mission of FAME and the single biggest reason we keep going back again and again.
We have lots of plans for this trip that include everything from hopefully breaking group on the new “Raynes House” to further discussions with FAME concerning the continued (and growing) relationship with Penn over the coming years. My dream has been to eventually involve other specialties from Penn and to create a much bigger presence there. It was Fima’s visit last October that paved the way for that to occur and with everyone’s help we will continue in that direction. Piggybacking on the success of last fall’s trip we will continue to see many of our returning epilepsy patients as well as a whole cadre of new ones who will quickly realize that epilepsy is a very treatable neurological disorder that need not be suffered to the extent that it is.
We are back to the model of having both an adult and a child neurology resident with me which is always the best since about half the patients we see are children. Jackie, our child neurologist, has been to Africa before, but this will be her first medical visit there. This will be Jess’ first visit to Africa as well as her first global health stint. The fourth in our group is Nick, Jess’ boyfriend, who is an environmental lawyer and we’ll begin to look for something for him to do in Karatu on our arrival there.
And so it is with neurology and medicine in rural Tanzania. It is not necessarily about the technology we bring (though this can often help), but rather about the relationships we build and the information we pass on to the patients and caregivers that ensures a better life for the populace of this endearing country whose wealth is measured in their determination and hope.
And now it is time for another incredible journey and the experience of a lifetime for those who have chosen to give of themselves to join me here in this paradise in East Africa.