After the completion of the MOTO pilot project and information gathering in Malawi in March 2018, there was distinct interest in our work from team contacts in Tanzania. Due to familiarity with the area and language, MOTO Director Judy Barrett travelled for the trip, supported by MOTO Tanzania members, Johnson Dickson, and Saad Mbingah. In addition, Saria Anderson (director of AMRCO) supported significantly in terms of itinerary and logistics. The aim of this trip was to gain understanding of the Tanzanian rehabilitation and therapy context, and to explore potential partnerships for future project work. Links were established in the Kilimanjaro, Arusha, and Zanzibar Urban regions via MOTO volunteers based in Tanzania. The trip spanned from the 30th of August 2018 to the 12th of September 2018, with costs met by private donors, The Eleanor Peel Foundation, and the University of Cumbria. This was complimented by some logistical support by First Aid Africa.
I was last in Tanzania in 2015, where I was living and working for Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) as a project supervisor for their youth programme. However, a passion for accessible health care had been instilled in me since my first ever overseas aid placement in 2011 (in Malawi), and part of the reason I left Tanzania was to pursue a career that would enable me to support health programmes in places such as East Africa. It was a privilege to be supported to return to Tanzania in August 2018, as a trained occupational therapist and director of a small charity I had started myself to support the access and quality of rehabilitation services in East & Southern Africa (MOTO). I was happy to find that little had changed since I left, and whilst my Kiswahili was “rusty”, I was able to make short speeches independently by the end.
During the visit, I met with 7 partner organisations, identified by myself, and the MOTO Tanzania team. I also met with traditional leaders (or chiefs – 3 of them), and relevant government officials on the mainland (in Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions), and on Zanzibar island. This gave me great insight into what was currently available in Tanzania, and also the challenges faced by rehabilitation services both in the charitable and state sectors. I was able to learn about what I could do to make MOTO a success by learning from successful and innovative grassroots organisations, and I was able to seek permission for activities from authorities. Most importantly, it was a chance to speak face to face with the teams behind these services, and work out how we could collaborate in the future. The partner organisations also helped me to meet 8 different service users, and learn from them and their families about how a lack of services (due to cost, location etc), and how disability or care responsibilities impacted their livelihoods, education and status in community. I was able to give some advice to some service users about how they might continue their rehabilitation at home with support from family, or some adaptations, which I hope will help. I was also able to give further knowledge about the benefits of rehabilitation services to both service users, and government officials, which peaked some interest in supporting these services in the community, or – in one case – studying to be an occupational therapist!
I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity, and have found that it has provided further motivation for myself and other members of the MOTO team to continue to our efforts to make the organisation active, and working with local organisations to really make a difference to rehabilitation services, and those requiring them.