The week has sped by and it’s still hard to process our time here. We finished up clinical work on Friday after seeing over 150 patients-many with HIV, all at risk for HIV; some in the early stages of disease,a few dying before our eyes. It’s a mixed feeling,sometimes frustrating that we haven’t been able to do more, usually rewarding that whatever little we can do makes a difference to these generous and gracious people. As yet, we don’t have the antiretrovirals in our clinic. And it’s hard to look into the eyes of an HIV infected eight year old and know that because he was born in Tanzania and not Tarzana, he will soon die from the disease. What we do bring to Arusha is our knowledge, experience and compassion-all eagerly and gratefully received by the staff and patients of Upone Clinic. I have once again been blessed by a team of truly remarkable and giving people. One can’t describe the interest and appreciation on the faces of the clinical staff as they share the day with Drs. Tyson and Christianakis, Tom Warren and Phyllis Hollingsworth, Jody Casserly and Ann Kleeger and Lyn Smillie. Mickey Singer’s expertise with saw and hammer impressed Dr. Solomon and over 50 Tanzanian children can say they learned to paint watercolor on the steps of Upone Clinic from Sally Eastman.
We finished the week with a new event, The First Annual Arusha HIV Symposium-a success, I think, in spite of one power failure and 7 uninvited bats hanging from the ceiling. The Tanzanians were so attentive and asked insightful and pertinent questions. It will definitely be on the agenda for next year.
Today, we returned from safari in Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara. We paid a visit to our ancestral home at Olduvai Gorge and remembered 6 remarkable people on a beautiful ridge dividing the Crater and the Great Rift Valley of East Africa. To Pamela, Andre, Kenneth, Heather, Gary and Jeff, we say “Fika Salama”-safe journey. You were taken from us too soon, but you will never be forgotten.
So we now are enjoying our last Kilimanjaro beer on the veranda of Moivaro Lodge. Everyone is a bit quiet, perhaps trying to process this remarkable experience. Working with the team of both Phil Simon and Upone Clinics, I am reminded of the great capacity of the human heart, the oneness of all of us and the special memories working together can bring. Tomorrow we leave Tanzania only to count the days until we bump down that dusty Arusha road once again. Thank you, my wonderful staff and team members. Thank you Dr.Solomon and all your staff. Asante Africa!