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Sounding Board: NOT Flat Stanley’s Big Vacation Dr. Ed Thornton on Foreign Medical Work


OK, Flat Stanley was just to get your attention for the real story. Six months ago I was working my usual day in/day out life and a phone call changed my plans for a while. The Tanzanian government had worked to start a clinic in Kigombe, Tanzania. If you Google Earth Kigombe, you will see that it is conveniently in the northern part of Tanzania next to the city of Tanga and close to the border of Kenya. If that doesn’t work, you can put one leg on Mombasa, Kenya, and play twister to get the other leg on Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Then, put your hand right in between your legs, and there in the middle is Tanga. It is a coastal area where many islands (the most famous of which is Zanzibar) are located and the people basically fish for a living. They encounter many difficult diseases that love the eastern coast of Africa, such as malaria, typhoid, dengue, Loa Loa, Wucheria Bancroft, HIV/AIDS, and so on. There are more than half a million people in the Kigombe region alone, and they are affectionately referred to as the “Fisherfolks.” After five years trying and failing to establish a hospital in this area, the government of Tanzania decided to ask for international help.