Mawenzi Hospital

Hooray! I’m finally writing a post for Hospitali Mawenzi! Josh and I are working here for one month basically fixing everything we can get our hands on. It is the  biggest hospital I’ve worked at because it is in downtown Moshi and I am going to describe my experience here as best as I can. The first day of work we went to the staff meeting and introduced ourselves for a few minutes in Swahili, basically saying our names, where we’re from, our purpose at the hospital, our backgrounds in engineering, and that “nzuri kukutana na nyinyi” (it is nice to meet you all). It was really sweet because after that we got a round of applause probably as a mix of appreciation for taking the time to learn and use Swahili and sympathy for how bad it probably seemed to them.

This is what we see when we walk in every morning.IMG_2837IMG_2838



The first day after the meeting we got a few emergency fixes from the wards and from the surgery theatre (like these aspirators).  After that we went around to take inventories of wards and almost always leave with more broken equipment. We finally took the last inventory today after about 10 days at the hospital. The equipment here comes from all over the world which is really pretty amazing and encouraging. All the equipment pictures I am posting have been returned working.


This foot powered aspirator has to be ancient but it works fine!IMG_2596

Testing the oxygen levels from this concentrator using a candle flame. (It should burn around 4 times longer than it would in a bottle full of room air)IMG_2598

The store room here has a bunch of broken microscopes but we have managed to get 3 of them working so far.IMG_2611


This otoscope is my favorite fix so far. There were a bunch of problems including a rheostat inside we had to fix and a burned out light (that would be impossible to replace here.) After several hours, and broken LEDs, we managed to replace that bulb by hardwiring in the LED we had in our kit. And it worked!IMG_2712

When I returned it to the pediatric ward the doctor started using it immediately and was very happy 🙂   [sorry there are no pics from wards I don’t think it would be appropriate to bring a camera]IMG_2721

And here is the centrifuge we struggled with for hours…IMG_2747

broken lid…IMG_2749

motor doesn’t run 😦IMG_2748

Opening it up there’s a lot of stuff to worry about. On top of that this motor was DC up to 220 V which is pretty dangerous. We had to be really careful when working inside.IMG_2750

We chased the voltage down into the motor and it should run. Eventually we took out the motor brushes…IMG_2751And yeah thats a big problem.

They should both be shiny and they are very worn down. I was able to buy new brushes at a hardware store in town and the motor ran great! A lot of useful, expensive equipment can be fixed pretty easily if you know what to look for…IMG_2752

Then I went into town and found a fundi and replacement door-hinges to work with.

IMG_2826IMG_2827A really cool thing about Moshi is that if you look long enough you can find just about anything you need in the shops here. The lid isn’t perfect but it will work.


Here are some of the shops I like to go to. Speaking a little Swahili here is really useful because it cuts the “Mazungu” prices they give you by half at least just about every time. Also, you have to keep getting directions to different shops in town when they don’t have the part you need.IMG_2819



Shop diving for parts takes a long time but I actually have a lot of fun doing it because I get to explore Moshi and meet a lot of cool people every time I go!

Another of the microscopes. It was a pretty simple fix, there was a loose wire inside and we changed the European plug head for a Tanzanian one.IMG_2763

And this was the most frustrating device we have worked on but it was ultimately very satisfying. This is a light that was brought to us from the surgery theatre.IMG_2773

The transformer inside was switched to the wrong voltage (took us forever to figure that out) and a fuse was blown.


Then we had to chase the wires and voltages up the light shaft and take it apart as we went. Found a broken connection that we zip-tied back so it wouldn’t break again.IMG_2779

And we fixed some wiring on the bulbs that we think may have been wrong from somebody working on it already.IMG_2800

But it’s good to go!IMG_2805

People say we always light up the room.Lamp

These are some cool fixes but a lot of fixes are easier. 🙂 A lot of the times we get “user errors” where we end up teaching nurses how to use devices and leave instructions in English and Swahili. Another big problem is dead batteries…

This fetal doppler was turning on but not working quite right. We changed the battery and it was good to go! I wish all of our fixes were that easy. We have probably gotten 10 things back to wards that just needed new batteries.


Lastly this is the workshop we are working in. The isolation ward at Mawenzi was abandoned at some point in the last year so we got to set up shop in one of the rooms.


Thanks for reading about Mawenzi! I still have a lot to say and I don’t want these posts to be too long so I will definitely be doing a few more posts for the hospital. It’s a great place to work because it is challenging and fun and I feel like we are doing a lot of good here.


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