May 6, 2023

From technology to childcare


Lots of mathematics, everything to do with metal and pneumatics: these were the interests of Miriam Hartmann, who prepared for her vocational baccalaureate in automation technology last year. As I said, it was her interests. This all changed fundamentally after she was given the opportunity to accompany her mother (a long-time volunteer at Artemed Stiftung) on a mission to Tanzania to St. Walburg’s Hospital (we reported).

She was immediately given a warm welcome at the hospital. She had the great advantage that she already knew the medical director Dr. Kasoga from her mother's childhood visits to Germany. The doctor affectionately calls her "little sister". And so she immediately felt at home away from home.

At the hospital, the plan was for the young woman to work with the technical and IT staff in order to gain experience herself and to support them with her local knowledge. But things turned out quite differently: at the beginning of her stay, there were no technical staff present and so she began to help out in the nursing department and accompany the public health specialist Ms. Geni Mabelya on her visits to the villages around the hospital. Here she was allowed to help with the examinations of the infants. She weighed babies and helped hand out medication and food. It was the first time she had worked in this area and she loved it straight away! No, she didn't just like it, she was downright enthusiastic about the work, the interaction with the children and the many new things she was able to see and experience. One of the highlights was definitely a caesarean section, which she was allowed to witness.

She enjoyed her time in Tanzania so much that, after returning to Germany, she decided to leave technology behind and switch to the social branch of the vocational baccalaureate. She now works part-time at the Krankenhaus zum heiligen Geist hospital in Kempen and has the clear goal of becoming a nurse, preferably with a focus on pediatrics.

Of course, her change of heart also initially caused astonishment among her friends. However, her stories quickly inspired others, and there are already some who would like to join her on a mission. Miriam herself has been infected by Africa fever: she really wants to go back to the country on the equator, preferably for a longer period of time. "Then," says Miriam, "you would have a much better opportunity to help in everyday life, there would be more routine and you would really become part of the local team."

However, she has already become a bit "Tanzanian": At an official dinner to which she was invited, she didn't reach for her knife and fork, but used her hands like the locals - to the delight of everyone present. And she has a new favorite dish: "ugali" - a kind of corn porridge that is prepared by pounding corn kernels with salt and a little water in a mortar and then processing them into a thick porridge. "I've cooked it myself. It's so simple, but so delicious. It's amazing how little Tanzanians are satisfied with and how grateful and happy they are because of little things. The Germans could take a leaf out of their book!"

It is a wonderful story of how Miriam's work with Artemed Stiftung has influenced her life and given it a new meaning. We sincerely hope that she can continue to pursue this goal and that she will return to Africa many more times.

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