THE TANZANIA PROJECT
Iambi Lutheran Hospital is located in Singida Region in Tanzania. The Southeastern Minnesota Synod is a companion with the Central Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT).
The Southeastern Minnesota Synod had been working to establish the Nursing School and renovate Iambi Hospital since 2004 but had not been able to find a strong partner congregation for the hospital. When members under the leadership of Pastor Vern Christopherson, traveled to Iambi in 2012 the Zumbro group established the partnership and it is a dynamic, vibrant, exciting one!
Zumbro congregation has a heart for missions and many members with medical and administrative ability. A partnership between Zumbro and Iambi Lutheran Hospital—the only ELCT hospital in the region—was a natural. There are other hospitals but belong to the government or the Catholic church.
Nine Zumbro travelers spent time in Tanzania January 2012 with hopes of establishing a long-term partnership between Zumbro Lutheran Church and Iambi Lutheran Hospital. When our team visited in January and asked how we could help, the hospital staff responded with requests for equipment and supplies so they could deliver better services to their patients. They also want help to open a nursing school. By training nurses at the hospital, they hope to retain local people to work at Iambi. Thus the Tanzania Project was born! Read their blog to learn more about this relationship.
The Zumbro Lutheran Church and Iambi Lutheran Hospital (ILH) relationship blossomed. By June 2012 Zumbro had 2 major projects in the works, collecting needed medical supplies and equipment for the doctors and nurses better care for their patients, and pulling together another mission team to travel in March 2013.
Our goals were ambitious because the needs are great, but thanks be to God, we are making progress. By August 2012 forty Zumbro families jointly contributed over $5,000 over 200 nursing textbooks were collected, many more were needed. Zumbro members who are nurse educators began putting together a list of needed supplies with the help of the nursing staff at ILH. Zumbro members also donated six new pair of shoes for the hospital staff to wear in surgery, and funded scholarships for two students at the nearby Iambi Lutheran High School. Dental supplies were also donated. The Tanzania Project was a witness for Christ in Rochester—many people from the community wanted to help. The work built on efforts by other agencies. The SE MN Synod donated $32,000 to ILH to build the student center for the nursing school. Global Health Ministries raised $6,500 of the $12,000 required to send the 8x8x40 foot shipping container to ILH as part of the 2012 goal to send shipping containers to each of the hospitals in Tanzania. GHM also provides much of the equipment and supplies along with warehouse space to store the materials as we acquired them.
Read the hospital's wish list.
By September of 2012 over $10,000 was provided to fulfill the dream goal of filling a shipping container with supplies and equipment for the ILH. In October Zumbro member, Sue Jenkins, and Kathy Bolin from the SE MN Synod office traveled to Iambi to determine what needs remain.
On October 18-19 several groups of volunteers offered their help at Global Health Ministries in Fridley to label, inventory, pack, and move all the gathered supplies for ILH into the shipping container to begin the four-month trip by sea.
Plans for the second large group to travel to Tanzania continued. A group of twelve travelers made plans for a two-week mission trip, March 6-20 to empty the container, set up the new equipment, train the doctors and nurses on how to use the equipment and introduce the new medical supplies and how best to utilize them to bring comfort and relief to their patients.
Other containers have been sent prior to 2013 to the hospital by the synod through Global Health Ministries. The synod has donated well over $200,000 for renovations, nursing school construction, electrical improvements, laboratory renovations, education for staff, etc. But again, we needed one congregation to take on the partnership to help focus and take the lead in the relationship. It is wonderful to see this happen with Zumbro!