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MAGILA HOSPITAL

Our Church's Mission Project in Tanzania

Jury 1972
Dr. Andrew Stanford and his wfe Margaret, SRN, are now settled in at Magila and Dr. Andrew has taken over the hospital from Dr. Marion Bartlett. In a letter just received he gives his first impressions:
"Plenty has been happening in our lives since our arrival almost a month ago and, as many have In the past, Margaret and I quickly fell in love with the place.
Although Magila is only four miles from Muheza, a small, mainly mud town, it could be in the wilds, miles from anywhere. The Magila road, a narrow mud track through heavy undergrowth, makes one wonder just how primitive the mission is at the end. In Britain, one would hesitate to take a tractor along such a route, and yet Marion and David Bartlett have managed throughout the wet seasor with their VW and a Honda motor bike.
The Mission buildings at Magila are quite beautiful. The The Convent, the Mother House of the Community of the Sacred Passion and the parish church stand on a hill overlooking the village and both hospitals - general and maternity. There has been a mission at Magila since 1868, making it one of the oldest in East Africa, and a place of pilgrimage for many Africans. The hospital has slowly evolved to fill a very real need of the local people, and it is now known for many miles, attracting people from other regions, who prefer the care given at Magila to their local government hospital. This says a lot for Magila, for here the patients must pay for their treatment, which would be provided free at a government hospital. Last week a very pregnant mum travelled thirty miles in the heat of the day to Magila ante-natal clinic as she said she liked it better than her local clinic.
The hospital is like many mission hospitals, and quite unlike anything one would see in the United Kingdom. The buildings are largely made of local red mud bricks, thinly cemented over and covered with a corrugated iron roof. The wards are very open, there are no glass windows in the whole hospital, except for the recently built theatre. Flies and insects are a real problem, and whenever a dressing is to be changed an extra nurse is busily employed keeping off the flies. Rats, I am told, would also be a problem if it were not for the many cats supported by the hospital.
Lack of running water presents us with an even greater problem. Imagine a house with no running water, hot or cold, and imagine the difficulties involved: no W.C.s, no showers, no baths. This lack of facilities is felt so very much in a hospital, where 200 patients, staff and relatives rely on pit latrines. Muddy red water runs in the pipes for a few months of the year, but we largely rely on rain water or water carried in tins from a river ½ a mile away.
[page five]
Most of the patients' cooking is done by relatives living in the hospital rounds. In the general hospital there are no buildings for relatives, so at night they sleep wherever possible, completely obstructing the varandahs around the hospital wards. An increasing number of patients are wanting the hospital to provide food (as in the government hospitals where it is free). This presents us with an enormous problem, as free flour supplies from overseas have recently ceased, food prices are soaring, making feeding of nurses and patients a costly business.
Enough of our difficulties. Working here is challenging, exciting and rewarding and exciting. Everybody wants to help, including the Bartletts, temporarily living at Magila, and the sisters of CSP who have been so kind to both Margaret and me in making us feel very much at home and most welcomes Within ½ hour of our arrival in Magila, Mother Superior wa6 along to greet us, and on discovering it to be our first wedding anniversary, quickly arranged for some very precious roses to be delivered from the convent garden.
Our little house, although simple and made essentially of mud, has beautiful teak doors, is quite adequate, full of character and most homely. We would both be most reluctant to change it, should the opportunity arise, for a modern house. The house is known locally as "Gravesend Cottage". It is rather cottage-like inside, and the garden has, at some stage, become confused and incorporated in the churchyard of the parish church. Living on a small budget in Magila has so far not caused any great hardship. The local fruit and vegetables are very cheap (30 tangerines cost a shilling) arid many of the fruits available to us are still a great luxury.
One great need, which I thought had been solved, is the problem of an autoclave. There was talk of a project in 'Network' to raise £500 for this, but no news has been heard, and in faith it has been ordered, and we hope will be here in another two months. The old steriliser broke irreparably many months ago. Since then the nurses have managed on a very dangerous-looking paraffin autoclave, augmented by boiling things over a charcoal fire. Last week the crunch came when the paraffin autoclave exploded, rendering it useless, but fortunately causing no casualties. Every single pack, for wards, theatre and outpatients must now be sterilised in a small autoclave in the maternity hospital, half a mile away down a mud track. This is clearly an impossible way to maintain sterility, and is causing very great hardship. Any help you can offer in meeting this need, would be greatly appreciated by all out here.
When I next write, I will be more clinical and tell more of the medical side of our life, but I thought that my first letter should be about how Magila first appears to me."
(This letter has been received through the USPG Project Service)

 

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