Dutch Mennonites back hospitals and health initiatives in Tanzania

By agency reporter
January 19, 2008

A fourth 40-foot container of medical supplies and hospital equipment from Dutch Mennonites arrived in Tanzania in late December 2007. Doopsgezind WereldWerk, the Dutch Mennonite Organization for Solidarity and Peace (www.dgwereldwerk.nl), sent the shipment on to African Mennonite hospitals in Shirati and Mugumu in January 2008.

Dutch Mennonite churches started raising fund for hospitals in Tanzania early in 2005. In April 2007, they shipped 150 hydraulic hospital beds in three 40-foot containers. When Dutch Mennonites revisited the Shirati hospital in October 2007, they observed a more positive spirit.

The "Friends of Shirati," older missionaries from North America, had become more involved again. The Dutch heard many times that the beds made the difference in moving the hospitals from struggle to hope. They did not expect the impact would be so big, said the Dutch visitors.

Another gift in 2007 from the Dutch Mennonites was a landcruiser to solve the transport problems as the Shirati hospital did not have any vehicle.

Doopsgezind WereldWerk, in conjunction with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, supports the project that aims to provide all-inclusive Homecare, Mother and Child Health Care and an Out Patient Department in an area where there is nothing. Professional staff will be paid by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

A company they named “Bethsaida,” from the biblical story in John 5, has been established to manage the project. It has three co-directors: Elisabeth de Quant, General Manager of the Intercultural Nursing Home De Schildershoek in The Hague, the Netherlands; Musuto M. Chirangi, Tanzanian director of the Mennonite Hospital in Mugumu, who currently is pursuing a PhD in Utrecht; and Jumanne Magiri, General Secretary of Kanisa la Mennonite Tanzania (KMT, the Tanzanian Mennonite Church).

Doopsgezind WereldWerk, with financial support from Dutch Mennonites, will donate funds for the building and equipment and take responsibility during the years to come for this new branch of health care, including home-based care.

The Minister of Health is very interested in this “pilot project,” which he sees as a model for the whole country. He would like to come to the Netherlands. The Dutch Mennonites want him to come so they can put him in contact with the Dutch government and with one of their Dutch home-care organizations.

With thanks and acknowledgments to Elisabeth de Quant, President of Doopsgezind WereldWerk

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