By Tim Daly
Hearing Fundi called out just makes my day. (In Swahili, fundi means “one who fixes things.”) I love jumping into whatever task that may be asked of me — from our arrival when I ended up replacing several outlets in the Zumbro guest house, to putting the toilet tank back together after a slight mishap during our burrito party.
So many of the staff members just knew me as Fundi and I am totally fine with that. They always said it with a smile on their face and so often with a little giggle, since they knew is wasn’t my actual name.
A true fundi could be kept busy at Iambi for years trying to fix all that that needs repair. A plumber would be a huge benefit. I think I could count on one hand the number of working faucets I encountered, and there’s maybe a 50% shot at the sink having a drainpipe. Water is so precious to these people and there is so much being wasted from faulty plumbing. If only I had unlimited supplies and the tools to help in this capacity; maybe next time.
Several faucets were dripping or even running a bit. For the first couple days of our stay, Wilson and Makala (the hospital fundis) had been working on the main water pump for the hospital. After seeing the plumbing issues, all I could think was, “Of course the pump has issues, it has to run much more often to over come the leaks with all the plumbing.”
On day 3 after dinner at the guest house, we decided to move some chairs outside to enjoy the beautiful evening. Director Manase asked if I would be willing to stay on at Iambi for maybe a year. I’m sure he was thinking, “There’s plenty to do here!” The maintenance staff are so busy trying to patch and put out fires (not literally), that they can’t get ahead of the repairs, let alone any type of preventive maintenance measures.
Day 2 came with a “Fundi Do List” as I toured the campus with Ann Leland and Technician Joram Malisa. As she inspected the areas to find out their needs we found plenty of things that needed a little love to fix up — from just needing a screw to hang a clip board from, to a drawer frame hanging in the surgical prep room table making it basically unusable. Ann would say, “We should hang a basket here to get the fetal doppler devices up off the wet bench surface,” and on to the list it would go.
Photo note: With hospital fundis Wilson, Joram, and Makala.
There were some old metal side table cabinets on wheels that we noticed (first thing) as we approached the hospital. We came up with the idea to have a couple of them cleaned up and one could be used for the ultrasound machine in Labor and Delivery. The staff were having a hard time using the ultrasound unit because they had to hold it or put it on something next to the baby.
I focused some personal attention on the X-ray darkroom. I noticed some light leaks around the door frame and transom that was above the door itself. I got Wilson and Makala to find some supplies so we could address these issues. We used a piece of masonite to close off the transom completely and they found a piece of foam rubber which we cut and mounted to the bottom of the door to eliminate light from getting in there as well.
So much fun for a fundi like me! I love every minute of being at Iambi and working with the people. They are so accommodating to a mzungu like me.