Written by Brittany Leitch

On My Way Out | New Community Partner | Kagya Village

In June, COSAD formalized a new partnerships with a Village called Kagya, about 30 km outside of Bukoba town. The GCN/ FAIR Student Volunteers and Dr. Brant Barr joined us the day we went to launch COSAD’s partnership with Kagya Village. 

As the bus ride began & we drove further away from Bukoba, the dirt roads and beautiful valleys became eerily familiar to me… I didn’t realize I had been to this village over a year ago with the church choir! I was quite proud of myself for recognizing every turn and tree in the absence of street signs and google maps. In a way, that moment of recognition proved to me how far I’ve come- that the vast majority of the Kagera Region had indeed become “my place” and my home.

We held the partnering event on the grounds of the village hospital in Kagya. Kagya is also the birthplace of the COSAD Clinic’s Landlord, Mr. Julius Ndyetabula. Kagya’s community leaders, village members, and hospital staff came to welcome us. The need in village hospitals is sobering. COSAD donated supplies and linens from the COSAD Clinic to begin our partnership, and I look forward to see how we will be able to offer more support as we move forward together.

Starting the hospital tour; pictured behind is the hospital’s laboratory. 
The laboratory has two work rooms, but supplies were minimal- a microscope and a few test pictured in the corner.  
Touring the hospital: pictured is the large “reception” room, and five rooms designated for different medical purposes.

Greeting and playing games with the kids..
Lunch prepared by the community.

Buying some fruit and other items in Kagya before heading back to Bukoba…
 COSAD Clinic’s Landlord, Mr. Julius Ndyetabula, is pictured (middle, pink-ish colored shirt) touring the COSAD Clinic just after the Grand Opening in 2014. He has been a terrific landlord. He lives in South Africa, and continues to support our local communities in whatever ways he can.

Written by Brittany Leitch

On My Way Out | Accepting Insurance | COSAD Clinic

I have LESS than two weeks until I return to the USA after being in Tanzania for 16 months.  I can hardly believe it, and I certainly do not feel ready to leave my “home” in Bukoba.  As bitter-sweet as it is, it is rewarding to see the progress we made over the last year. 

The COSAD Clinic has been working very hard with forms, inspections, and other requirements to be a facility that accepts one of the most common insurances called NHIF.  This month, after a lot of waiting, we finally are able to actively accept & bill for NHIF!  We have already seen an increase in clients in just one week, so it is a great step for COSAD and the community. 

I was fiercely hoping this step would happen before I left, and it did! Yay!

*All pictures taken with permission! 

Written by Brittany Leitch

The See-You-Later Moment | GCN | FAIR School

This weekend will mark two weeks since COSAD said goodbye to our volunteers from GCN & FAIR School. The Sunday before they departed, we spent all-day relaxing, eating, doing a bit of work in the container, and enjoying each other’s company before they started their journey home. One of the students said it best when they said, “This isn’t goodbye, this is a see-you-later moment.” Everyone agreed! I couldn’t have imagined a more open, accepting, fun and generous group of individuals to spend two weeks with in our communities. You each are simply wonderful. As Smart wisely said, Bukoba is now your second home, you are always welcome here! I can’t wait to see what is next for y’all!  See you in Minnesota! 

The entire group gathers- sharing stories and songs.

Each of our volunteers gave a short speech.. 

And teaching Smart a few new MN slang terms.. :)

Written by Brittany Leitch

Share the Love | Dr. Baitani & Dr. Barr Arrive!

On Monday (today!), Dr. Jessica Baitani returned to COSAD Clinic after being away for six months. Arriving with her was several new pieces of equipment for the clinic, including a portable ultrasound machine! Returning clients were thrilled to see Dr. Baitani back in Bukoba, and many other clients came to see her for the first time today.

It was Dr. Brant Barr’s very first day working at COSAD Clinic. He was warmly received, easing into the culture effortlessly. Dr. Barr is an OBGYN who has practiced in the US for more than 30 years, and has done remarkable medical volunteer work in South Africa and other international locations. We are incredibly lucky to have him in Bukoba, where it is difficult to find specialists for women’s health. Within the first hour, Dr. Barr had the new ultrasound machine set up, and was beginning to see clients.

The COSAD Clinic team – almost complete! We will welcome Ms.Victoria Kiwanuka (International Volunteer RN) back to the clinic this week!
Dr. Barr taking a rest after arranging his office :)
Dr. Baitani settling into her office.
Getting a super-fast tour of the clinic before starting work!
Setting up the ultrasound machine…

Ending the day: Clinic Officer Gerald and Laboratory Technician Egbert going through appointments for Tuesday before closing time.  

Written by Brittany Leitch

COSAD “Family” Day

February started with what COSAD calls “Container Day”, but what could have been better described as “Family Day”.  On the first of February, COSAD staff opened our shipping container filled with medical equipment to retrieve items for the clinic and organize (which will continue at a later date!).  We also crossed a few valuable non-clinic items, like gym shorts to dress the girls soccer team in uniform for their first scrimmage against a neighbooring school!  :) :) 

Simultaneously, another group was preparing a big feast and birthday bash for after the “work” was done.  It turned out to be a loooong day, but one of our best days!  

Later that week, the COSAD Clinic gained a “resident volunteer” who just moved back to Bukoba after living in the USA.  Ms. Victoria Kiwnuka has worked as a registered nurse for over 35 years in Tanzania and in the USA, and has already played a major role mentoring our staff members and contributing to the nursing department.  She also happened to be with us as we met with the NHIF insurance company representative.  Hopefully we will be able to accept insurance very soon!!  

Some tired out faster than others…
Starting early with dinner preparations. 

Frida and Monica celebrating birthdays!
On an introduction tour of COSAD with Ms. Victoria Kiwnuka (volunteer nurse).
Above & Below: The clinic’s first meeting with the insurance company.
Written by Brittany Leitch

The New Year | News from the Clinic

For the first three weeks of January, the COSAD Clinic had the privilege of partnering with Dr. Joas Kyabonaki, MD.  Originally from Bukoba, Dr. Kyabonaki works at Horsens Hospital in Aarhus, Denmark and specializes in General Internal Medicine.  He contacted COSAD last year, offering to volunteer at the clinic while he visited family in Bukoba over the holidays.  We were beyond happy to welcome Dr. Kyabonaki to COSAD, and deeply appreciative of the weeks he made himself available to us and to the community.  We are looking forward to working with him again in the near future!  Thank you, Dr. Kyabonaki, for your passion, talent, professionalism, and service-oriented values.

Dr. Joas Kyabonaki (left) and COSAD Director, Smart Baitani.

COSAD faces..  
A COSAD appreciation/send-off dinner for Dr. Kyabonaki.

Written by Brittany Leitch

True to Our Roots

Last week was pretty great.  The clinic was open, so there was plenty of work to be done administratively.  Being a part of the beginning stages of the COSAD Clinic has been eye-opening for me in many ways.  First and foremost, I realised how scary and risky opening any type of business is- especially one that require a huge amount of finances and resources before it launches.  It is also exciting- really exciting- watching the clinic’s staff carry out their jobs, and seeing patients come to receive services.  I am so surprised how much I am enjoying the business part of things!

At COSAD, we say that these Social Enterprise (SE) projects are being opened for the very people COSAD was created to help.  With the hype of the Grand Openings and the effort required for opening and sustaining three separate ‘businesses’ all at the same time, it is reasonable for one to conclude that our communities and programs would have to be “set aside” as things settle down… right?  NOT AT ALL!!!!!!  One of many things I can say with great joy and delight is with all of the efforts we have to put into the Social Enterprise projects, our leaders have made sure we do not delay any work in our communities and programs.  Smart is leading our team by executing our priorities correctly to make sure our SE projects are for the people COSAD was created to help, and we look forward to see their lives and dignity improve dramatically as our projects become stronger!  

Thus, we are busy at work arranging to building a water retention system in Kangabusharo Village by the end of the month (to expand the OWOG program), and connecting our village partners to the services at the clinic.  I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.  Mr. and Mrs. Olson joined us in the village last week to look into the possibility of starting work on the water retention system, and at the same time they brought reading glasses from the clinic to offer service to our partners’, and their neighbors, relatives, and friends.

Someone super cute coming to visit their mom at the Clinic!
The CEO’s office at the clinic; make due with what you have, right?

Butch Olson, Mpesha & Smart brainstorming for the water retention system.
Butch and Karen providing reading glasses services at Amelia’s home in Kangabusharo Village.

The “hosts” (our partners) at Amelia’s home after reading-glasses services were provided to their neighbors and friends.

Written by Brittany Leitch

COSAD Clinic’s First Partnership- A Success!

Friday’s partnership event with Mr. & Mrs. Butch and Karen Olson was a success on several levels!  Mr. and Mrs. Olson had over 500 reading glasses available to fit and provide to our clients, they had hand-made glasses cases for the glasses made by a church group in Minnesota, and they also did other minor checking of eyes as well.  We received good feedback, and many asked when/if we would be getting a refractor (I hope in time we will partner to bring one!). Many community partners from Izigo, Kangabusharo, Kagondo, and teachers from the area came to participate in our first partnership event.  We also had a number of community members who came to the event as well.  I don’t have the specific count yet (I will soon), but I estimate we had over 100 people come through the clinic Friday morning and afternoon.  

We also found the day to be incredibly helpful to solidify minor adjustments and needs of the clinic.  For the first half-hour, I kept thinking how crazy it was that I was trying to help run tactical aspects of an establishment that I know nothing (in comparison to others) about… But then I was reminded of our clinic team: thanks to Mr. Smart Baitani, Dr. Jessica Baitani, and Dr. Rwebangira, COSAD is blessed to have assembled a team of bright, competent and driven medical professionals that know exactly what they are doing.  Praise God.  I am continually amazed how things manage to fall into place (even after a lot of hard work)!  Our team did awesome!

*Special thanks to Mc Baraka & Bukobawadau (again!) for providing photos.

Written by Brittany Leitch

COSAD Clinic’s First International Volunteer Partnership: Reading Glasses

Butch and Karen Olson are in Bukoba, TZ this month with over 300 pair of reading glasses to fit & sell* to kick-start the COSAD Clinic!  Mr. and Mrs. Olson are from Minnesota, USA and are Board Members of Vision Honduras.  We are thrilled they are in Bukoba to offer their expertise!  Individuals of many talents, Mr. and Mrs. Olson have also offered to take over the construction of the clinic’s outdoor resting pavilion’s renovation the week prior to the their reading glasses event at the clinic. 

As you can see in pictures below, our pharmacy is looking fantastic after a van full of medicine & supplies arrived from Mwanza early last week.  Dr. Jessica Baitani has really pulled every aspect of the clinic together with the help of COSAD personnel, and we are excited for what is ahead (especially for Friday’s first International “Medical” Volunteer Partnership Event with the Olson’s!!! – More pictures to come this weekend!)

*All proceeds will go to support clinic operations.

Written by Brittany Leitch

THE GRAND OPENINGS: The COSAD Clinic & Conclusion of all Grand Openings

Saturday afternoon, the final Grand Opening and the culmination of all of our Grand Openings was held at the COSAD Clinic near the Bukoba Airport.  Honorable Lazaro Nyalandu, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, flew into Bukoba for the afternoon to open the COSAD Clinic and conclude the Grand Openings.  Joining him was Bishop Dr. Benson K. Bagonza of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, Mr. Vincent Spera, Dr. Pamela Sawa, Dr. Jessica Baitani, and Dr. Francis Rwebangila, Founder and Managing Director of Kigoma International Health Center & COSAD Clinic Consultant MD.

We enjoyed fantastic performances from The Voice, Abasinga Group, traveling guest choirs, local church choirs, and village choirs in between speeches from our chief and special guests and a delicious lunch.

Each Grand Opening turned out be be far more “Grand” than I could have ever imagined when we started preparations.  I am completely humbled and grateful for each person who came, contributed, worked and supported COSAD through this exciting weekend!  Thank you all!  

A forty-minute rest to re-group before going to greet Hon. Nyalandu at the airport!
Hon. Nyalandu’s airport arrival!
Arrival and speech at the COSAD Clinic Grand Opening.
Dr. Jessica Baitani (left) and Hon. Nyalandu (right)
Pastor Ben addressing the guests at the Clinic.
COSAD Clinic Special Performances!!
Izigo Village Performers
The Voice, from Dar es Salaam
The Final, Grand Opening!

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