After a fun and relaxing weekend, we started our second week of clinics at Kikiwaraza, a village near the Mikumi safari park. We set up for surgeries outside of a primary school which was not in session since the students are on their winter break, but there were students preparing for national exams in one classroom. It was very interesting to look around the school and see how Tanzanian students learn. In addition to attending school, the students are also responsible for cleaning and maintaining the school grounds, which is very different from the United States. Tanzanian students are required to attend primary school from ages 7-13, and school tuition is free. The national exams that the students we saw were preparing for are required at the end of primary school to receive a primary education certificate and continue on to secondary school. Unfortunately, only about 50% of students pass the national exam as of 2009, and there is not enough room in public secondary schools to accommodate every student that passes the exam. The sad reality of this system is that many children in Tanzania receive no formal schooling after the age of 13, especially in rural areas. Learning about the education system in Tanzania reminded me of how fortunate we are in the United States to have the school system that we do, and it also made me realize how much work needs to be done to improve education in Tanzania and throughout the world.
After gaining so much experience with surgery last week, we were very confident starting our second week of clinics. My goal for this week was to be as self-sufficient with surgery as possible, since I had become much more confident about my decision making and surgical skills after the past week. Like most of our other sites, many local people came with their dogs for surgeries and vaccinations and we were able to complete all of them. We had two surgical tables operating at the same time, and we were able to work much more quickly than the previous week. Our surgical skills improved so much thanks to Dr. Bennett, and all of us have become so much more confident in surgery. Having this experience in Tanzania definitely makes me feel more prepared to go into practice, as I have now performed 3 spays and 5 castrations on this trip. I feel like our surgical decision making has also improved on this trip, as we are often in situations where conditions are very different from the surgical suite in the United States. We have learned how to adapt to different situations and deal with complications while still maintaining the highest quality of care for the patient. I’m looking forward to gaining even more experience in the coming week, and I’m excited to return to clinics at the Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital with the new skills and perspective that I have gained here.