2014 – Getting Closer

January 2014
Abasi has continued to be involved in the problem with his younger brothers’ eye. His brother and mother had to travel to Dar to seek more specialist treatment. However the person they really needed to see was a specialist coming over to Tanzania next month. Some repair work was done, but I think more may be needed.
Abasi has some exams coming up, so has been studying hard. I am confident he will pass as he is well organised and well motivated. He is supporting his family as much as he can, which is good. He has been able to earn enough money to send both of his brothers to a better school, so that they get a better start than he was able to have.
I imagine they are immensely proud of their older brother. If they are as smart and motivated as him, I think they will be very successful too…

February 2014
Abasi has been very busy, so there has not been a lot of communication this month. He is obviously studying hard, while looking out for his brothers. He is keen to supplement his income so he can help his family even more, but I don’t know where he’ll find the time. Still I’m scratching my head trying to think of something, but not with much success so far.
After I asked about his sister I got a lovely email all about her, which particularly pleased my wife. Abasi doesn’t talk about the female members of his family very much, but when he does he clearly loves them as much as his male relatives.
Maybe it’s an African thing?

March 2014
Yet more tests and exams this month, so Abasi has been as busy as ever. However he is passing everything comfortably and he appears capable of dealing with the stress, at least that’s how it seems from a distance.
Abasi’s youngest brother continues to have problems with his eye. The specialist operated on it, but apparently there was damage caused by the first operation. So they will have to wait and try again in the future. That doesn’t sound good. Abasi’s other brother didn’t do as well as he’d hoped in his exams, so his future direction is unclear.
More good news for Abasi however. He has been selected to be part of a short health project in Zanzibar next month. Also the small parcel of land that was left to his family appears to be productive so that will help them with a bit more income from the crops.
Abasi has been wanting to buy a car, but his savings never quite reach the necessary amount. Used cars are very expensive in Tanzania. They tend to be imported from Japan where they are very cheap. However once shipping costs and tax are added on, the price has tripled! Cars are such a money pit, but are very much a necessity in England.
I imagine they are even more necessary if you want to get about in Tanzania…

April 2014
Much discussion about cars this month. I know Abasi wants one. What young man doesn’t? But does he actually need one? A car would be useful when he does his various turns at other hospitals, but the thing that swung it for me is that a car makes it much easier to run his other “businesses”. This would give him more financial independence. So I cracked, and topped up his car fund!
Abasi went off on his Zanzibar project towards the end of the month. He sent me some examples of the posters he had created for the event, which were rather good. The project seems to have gone well and Abasi’s passion to become a paediatrician seems to have increased even more.
I hope he achieves it. I think he will…

May 2014
The Zanzibar project seems to have gone well and the photos showed that the group seemed to be enjoying the trip. We were a little concerned as the Zanzibar ferry has had problems in the past, but it all went well.
There was a bit of a shock with the exam results. Abasi had done well in most exams as usual, but is required to do a retake for one of the subjects. It turned out that some of the exam papers were stolen and so a lot of people cheated! This is really bad news for Abasi, as he will now have to retake 4 subjects as well as studying for this semesters 12 subjects. I am certain that Abasi would never cheat so this is really unfair. But I am sure he is capable of getting through it.
Abasi ordered the car and we now wait for its arrival…

June 2014
Abasi was away on a field trip for two weeks, doing nutrition. Apparently the students had to pay for all the expenses involved including travel, food, accommodation and medical supplies. Seems a bit harsh but those are the rules. He seems to have enjoyed it and his report was really good. I am amazed at how much his English has improved, especially as it is his third language, behind Bena and Swahili.
However the really good news is that Abasi will not have to retake his exams caused by the exam papers being stolen. On review he was given a few extra marks and this put the grade up to a “C”. He is a little disappointed with the grade as he has been getting a lot of “B” grades, but he is very happy not to be retaking the exams. The studying is hectic as it is, without having to do retakes!
The car is due to arrive towards the end of the month. I don’t think Abasi can wait!

July 2014
The car has arrived! Abasi is “over the moon”. He has achieved something I doubt he ever thought he would. But he works hard and that usually pays off!
There has been strange things going on at the hospital attached to the university. Apparently some body parts were found dumped in a local tip and all hell has broken loose. There was a possibility that the university may be closed down. In the end they temporarily closed the hospital while they investigate and recertify the various departments. Luckily the university has been allowed to continue.
However all the problems at the hospital have come in the middle of the university exams. Perfect timing! I hope it hasn’t affected the students too much.
We will find out shortly…

August 2014
The exams finished in mid August and a well deserved break until the end of September beckoned. However Abasi is involved in helping organise a medical students conference in Zanzibar, so that used up a few days holiday. The international conference is being held in Washington in November and Abasi is hoping he gets chosen to go. That would be a trip worth doing!
It’s the budget time of year again. As ever most prices have increased so we had a bit of maths to do. All sorted for another year now.
Abasi headed home at the end of the month. This was the first time he had driven home so I imagine that was quite exciting. Anyway he arrived safely.
I expect he created quite an impression when he arrived in his new car…

September 2014
Abasi has still been working hard as he passed his exams yet again. While home on his summer break from university, he has been helping out at the local hospital again. And as if that wasn’t enough, he’s been conducting a survey!
He organised a meeting through his local church, where he gave a presentation on breast cancer and then got a couple of hundred people to fill in a survey about cancer. He is collating all the data and is hoping to publish it. As this is likely to be the first time such a survey has been done in his locality, it should make interesting reading.
Abasi returned to Dar towards the end of the month and was then involved in another conference for the medical students association. He is now in charge of media for the association, which is a paid position.
I wonder when he gets time to sleep…

October 2014

Abasi is very involved with a medical students research society, and has been made the national publicist. So he now does all the publicity literature for the society to deal with. He seems to like being busy! He recently did some freelance literature and the money he earned has paid for his younger brothers school fees for the next year. So he’s very pleased with himself.

Abasi had his father staying in Dar for a couple of days. His father was in Dar visiting a sick relative, so Abasi was able to show him the university and the sights of Dar. I think he was very pleased to be able to show his father around.

Abasi is now doing rotations, which is working on the wards I think. So this is where all the theory he has learned over the last few years begins to become useful.

I imagine he is beginning to feel like he’s nearly a real doctor now…

November 2014
Abasi was able to earn enough money in the holidays to pay for his younger brothers schooling for the year. He was very proud of that achievement, rightly so. His father was also able to visit him at university for the first time since he started there. He was very happy to be able to show his father around, and I imagine his father was proud and impressed.
I think Abasi has a girlfriend. Some of the pictures he has sent me recently have the same girl popping up in them. And some recent messages imply he is in a relationship. He’s reached that age!
Ah, they grow up so fast…

December 2014
Exam time again. As I understand it Abasi has to assess a patient on the wards to see what problems they have. Apparently as AIDS is so prevalent this can make it rather difficult to find all the patients issues.
I ordered a medical book in the UK for Abasi to use in his studies. There is a UK charity that does these books at low cost for use in Africa. The postage was as much as the book! It was sent by mail which is supposed to take 3-5 days but apparently it usually takes 3-5 weeks. I don’t know if it’s arrived yet!
We looked at replacing Abasi’ laptop which had stopped working, and Abasi has a bit of food poisoning which knocked him out for a few days, but otherwise everything was quiet for the Christmas and New Year period. I wonder what the New Year will bring?
Happy New Year!