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Ruth Hulser link letter no. 44 December 2017

Dear friends,

It was so good to see so many of you this summer. Every church has contributed in encouraging me and the whole team in Tabora. We are so grateful for all your prayers, care and help. It is your love for us that is making our ministry possible. I was only sorry that I did not have more time to spend with the churches and the individuals within them.


With my mother on the way to the top of a Swiss mountain in an old steam railway carriage.

I have now been back in Tabora for over four weeks; everyone was most delighted to see me back. We have also been given a new administrator for St Philip’s by the diocese as the previous administrator retired. This is a great help in reducing my workload and responsibilities and I can now mostly concentrate on doctoring and teaching, which is great.

A passage that is more relevant than ever for me and my work is this: “‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’”John 13:34- 35 (NIV)

My neighbour – my patient

When I came back I discovered that our “closest” neighbour to the farm (3 km away) had become a lot more sick. Mzee Konkoto had had a stroke, paralysing one side a year ago. When I happened to pass by last year, I discovered that he had received no treatment or help whatsoever as he and his wife live by themselves in the poorest of circumstances. We had started to organise trips to the clinic and free treatment but quickly realised that he was too poorly to come. Two of our home-based care team then started visiting to give him monthly injections, tablets, and measure his blood pressure, etc.


My neighbour Mzee Konkoto in his bed with his wife nursing him.

However, on my return to Tabora I found that he had stopped taking most tablets as his blood pressure had dropped due to his heart failing more, and his ability and strength were rapidly declining. He virtually stopped eating as he could not chew or swallow the maize pap which this couple can afford. We decided to try and help by giving him a piece of mattress so that he could still sit in his wooden chair outside or be propped up in his bed.


Little packets of milk are the only thing Mzee Konkoto can swallow now. He gets one a day.

We also give him flour to cook local porridge, sugar, rice and little packets of milk (milk being the one food that most patients really long for but few can afford). We also give him the few tablets and painkillers he still finds useful. He is touchingly grateful for every visit, every person who enquires after him, every small little help. He is indeed so unusually grateful that it quite surprised me. And then last week I found out that the local people believe he has the “evil eye”, and even his children, all seven, believe this. What a terrible hold superstitions have but what a relief to know that we are loved and are God’s beloved children.


Wife and grandchild of Mzee Konkoto outside their leaky, straw-roofed house.

Progress made…

Clinic

While I was in the UK patient numbers had dropped considerably, mainly because many people have been struggling with a lack of cash as food prices have risen because of the poor harvest. So health becomes a luxury that now even less people can afford.

As we can now carry out some new tests thanks to the fine care machine – tests such as PSA (prostate test), thyroid function, heart tests etc., – we have started an awareness campaign to promote these things and can now see some improvements.

Village visiting

We are still visiting two villages every month. In one village we get to see about 170 people and in Mwaka Shindje 300-350 per visit. The government clinics are beginning to function better and we hope that in the next two years, our outreach to Mwaka Shindje will become surplus. Unfortunately, there are still some villages with no service whatsoever and so we are looking to see if there is a way that we can extend our services there.

Farm life

We have worked extra hard and the pigs, rabbits, ducks, pigeons, donkeys and fish are all doing very well. The first batch of pigs are going for slaughter soon, and the next generation is already born, waiting to be moved.

Sadly one cow had to be put down because she was diagnosed with an infectious disease, but our Fresian cow is doing very well indeed and we hope soon to have it delivered safely.

Drought

As expected, a shortage of water has seriously affected Tabora as all the wells and dams had collected insufficient water to cover this dry season, due to the lack of rain last rainy season. It has become a common phenomenon for women and children in the outlying villages to sleep next to a well, waiting for the water levels to rise enough to be able to take out the 20-40 litres a day that a family needs in order to survive. One dam – the bigger one that Tabora depended on – went dry in July. People have struggled with water supplies to such a degree that they have had to reduce livestock, close businesses, etc. We are still looking for solutions to help people to look for rainwater collection rather than to depend on government dams or traditional water springs. A challenge indeed!


Juma and Geni have grown lots in my absence!

Ruth, Juma and Geni as well as the clinic and Familia Moja team!

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