Since my last post I have had a really busy couple of days. I had my last Swahili and Engineering classes of the week on Thursday and decided I wanted to make guacamole for my homestay “familia” (family) since there are “parachichi” (avocados) everywhere in town. Nuru and Faiaz liked it but Monica (the only real cook in the house) called it pudding and was unimpressed.


Mount Meru Hospital

Early Friday morning, EWH made our first group hospital trip to Mount Meru hospital to get hands on training fixing medical equipment with Dr. Fryda before we go to live in hospitals on our own. The first thing I worked on was a coffee pot that would start smoking whenever it was plugged in. This is a funny first device to work on because it is not a medical device but apparently if we fix something like a coffee pot first at hospitals the staff will like us more and will be happier to help us with our work. Plus, the inside of a coffee pot is pretty similar to something like a blanket warmer so it is still a good learning experience. Opening up the pot, it is pretty obvious that the circuit running through the heating coils is broken.


Using a clamp from a junk machine, I was able to “crimp” the circuit back together and reassemble the pot.


And it works!


We then worked on blood pressure cuffs for a little while before lunch:


After finishing our work in the morning our group walked over to a local roadside restaurant and had lunch:


Kilimanjaro-looking Rice:


In the afternoon, I jumped into testing and fixing some medical equipment. A staff member walked us through some hospital wards and had us collect a few blood pressure cuffs and ended up showing us three suction machines for body fluid and an oxygen concentrator all of which the staff though weren’t working.

IMG_1118.jpgAfter toying with the suction machines for a few minutes and testing them with a water bottle it they seemed to not have any issues.


One major problem we have been warned of with any medical devices is that often the nurses aren’t completely sure how to use them and they seem to not work because of user error. Those machines are then sorted into broken piles when they should be getting use with patients. I think in this case the suction machines were fine but they just needed to be tested. They are good to function  in the ward again after minimal effort from us. The oxygen concentrator however was definitely broken so we wheeled it out to our “lab.”

Not a bad view for a lab…

not a bad view.jpg

Oxygen Concentrator:

Most of the rest of the afternoon I spent working with and learning about how an oxygen concentrator works.



The machine runs for about five minutes before stopping because of insufficient oxygen flow. So we opened it up…




And even more to find the motor:


After watching and learning how the machine runs we decided that the problem is an extremely dirty filter that we hope to be able to replace when we return next week.



End of the Day:

Steve making 3 working wheelchairs out of 5 broken ones.


Fixing a blood pressure cuff. All it needed was batteries…


Bus ride home:


Random Animal of the Week

(baby) Vervet Monkey:Monkey.jpg

What’s next:

I had a lot of fun working in the hospital, but it was definitely a challenge. Trying to talk to a busy nurse about a broken machine when she is trying to get back to an overcrowded ward in Swahili was nearly impossible. It makes me realize even more how important it is that I can actually become conversational in Swahili. On top of that, I don’t think I saw two medical devices that worked exactly the same way all day. The machines are coming from a lot of different countries from a lot of different time periods so learning the engineering of how to approach these machines will be crucial. Basically, I need to learn as much as possible in the next three weeks before moving on to the hospital.


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