Greetings from Father Paul Fagan, pastor of St. Peter Parish in the Tanzanian village of Nkololo 14 miles from the Serengeti National Park and 35 miles from lake Victoria.
I am now in my 50th year in Tanzania and diocese of Shinyanga, however I got my start in life on a farm in Wisconsin where I learned much of what has been helpful in my development projects here. My long time here has made it possible to help people spiritually and physically. I have built roads, educated 100’s of young people and since 1983 I have provided health care beginning in my former parish of Old Maswa and later in 1992 in Nkololo. This area has grown and developed rapidly since building roads, however the health care has not kept up with the needs of 1000’s of people. Hopefully we are going to be able to change that situation.
For a starter, on Tuesday morning, 27 October 2009, Stefano Mabula and Barnabas Ludeleka arrived from Dar es Salaam with a new Toyota Landcruiser ambulance that we have been anxiously awaiting for over two years. Even more exciting they brought with them a letter dated 13 October 2009 from the Ministry of Health in Dar es Salaam saying that our Songambele (Go Forward) Dispensary has been promoted to the status of a Health Center, registration number 171008. What is remarkable is that our dispensary is the last one to be opened in the Diocese of Shinyanga and the first and only one to be promoted to the status of a Health Center.
We now have the status of a Health Center but we do not have the necessary staff members, staff housing, new laboratory and equipment and new operating theater and equipment. Therein arises the greatest challenge I have had in over 49 years of pastoral and development work. Over 30 years of building experience give us the skills needed to put up 5 staff houses and single nurses’ housing plus building a new laboratory and operating theater. Finding experienced dedicated staff members will not be easy but at least we have a good start as Helena Sindano will finish her Assistant Medical Officers training in Sept. 2010 along with Godfrieda and Ruth who will finish their Nursing Officers training at the same time.
The overwhelming challenge is the minimum of $500,000 that we will need for the buildings, equipment and initial salaries we will have to pay until such time as the Health Center will be self sufficient.
Personally I have no income whatsoever yet I have been given the rare opportunity to be in a position to save lives in an area where so many people, especially infants die due to lack of quick, accessible and adequate medical care at a reasonable cost.
Each staff house will be adequate for a family and will have solar powered electricity and limited running water using large rain water tanks. The laboratory will have to be modern and well equipped so that we can save many lives by blood transfusions and proper diagnosis. At present we have the only laboratory in 100’s of square miles. However it is not ample for a Health Center. Our minor theater is not adequate for caesarean sections, laparotomies, repairs and reduction of fractures as well as similar procedures that cannot be done in a dispensary.
When I built the dispensary and wards providentially I built larger than necessary buildings for our needs at the time, now they will be just sufficient.
We have enough property for housing and are prepared to begin building as soon as funds are available. We all look forward to sharing with others this opportunity to serve the medical needs of people who already live a life without so many of the things of this world that most of us consider to be necessities.
May our loving God Bless and Watch over you,
Fr. Paul Fagan
Pastor, St. Peter Parish, Diocese of Shinyanga, Tanzania