Lions, and tigers and wheelchairs (oh my) – an Engineer in Tanzania

In January 2020, I spent 5 weeks in Tanzania at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre along with Sarah, an STP Medical Physicist. Walking to work each day seeing Kilimanjaro peeking out of the clouds as we ate fresh chapattis for breakfast was a surreal experience and one I will never forget. I spent most of my time at the hospital working in the wheelchair department. During this time, I was able to get involved in the full manufacture of wheelchairs including assessing patient needs, welding the body of the wheelchair and sewing the cushion covers. I also designed a new break system for the chairs as the previous design had many flaws. Whilst in the hospital, I also spent some time in the prosthetics department, which allowed to me to speak to a number of local patients and find out the cultural differences of how these people are treated. 

During our free time in Tanzania, we absorbed ourselves in the local culture. Learning Swahili proved useful when bargaining in the local markets and also provided a lot of entertainment for my colleagues. We also spent a day in the town learning how to cook local dishes with a woman who knew as much English as we did Swahili which made it all the more entertaining. On our weekends, we went on a number of excursions which included visiting a coffee and banana plantation and a trip to Zanzibar. The highlight of the trip was a safari in the Savannah and the Ngorangora crater – the true Lion King experience.

I would like to say many thanks to HEE and Bright Northumbria for allowing me the opportunity to undertake this elective in Tanzania. I found it a very beneficial experience and hope I have made a worthy contribution to those in Tanzania.