October 2016, Nyamagongo, Shirati Tanzania
Victoria von Salmuth
Maastricht University, Netherlands
"I am a fifth year medical student from Germany, studying at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. During a clinical internship at Shirati Hospital in 2015, I was confronted with many difficult patient cases. One case that was particularly moving and made a great impression on me, was that of a 20-year-old young woman, Rosemary, who gave birth to triplets - something very unusual in rural Africa.
"Rosemary was not able to provide sufficient breast milk to her newborns, despite the staff’s support and education about breast feeding. In their first weeks the babies were not thriving and gaining weight. Finally, we realized that Rosemary was simply not getting enough nutritious food herself to produce sufficient milk. She had no family nearby to provide her with food, nor did she have money to buy food herself.
"That was the moment when I decided that I had to start bringing food to Rosemary and other women in the ward from my own supplies or directly from the market. However, I knew that I could not sustain this in the long run for the entire ward – or for Rosemary alone. At this time the REACH Shirati hospital food program was already in place, but due to a lack of funding, it could not provide more than one meal a day, five days a week, to patients in the maternity and pediatric wards (no meals were provided for the male and female adult wards).
"I thought the meal situation in the hospital was unacceptable, and I felt a great need to do something about it. To provide every patient with at least one meal a day, more money was needed for the hospital food program. Therefore, on my return to Germany, I started a fundraising initiative, the Shirati Food Program, raising funds every month in Germany and the Netherlands and sending a monthly contribution to the Shirati Hospital Food Program.
"The goal of providing every patient at the hospital with one meal a day, has not been reached yet, but we are well on our way- and our list of supporters keeps growing."
See Victoria’s INIGEM Shirati Food Program page in German.
"...a wave of emotion and relief passed through all of us as the lights shone brightly."