Amani

In late October, I once again travelled from Dar es Salaam to Tanga, my favorite upcountry destination in Tanzania. This time, however, it wasn’t to chill out on the beach, boat to the sandbar, or eat the delicious coastal cooking. Well, maybe the last part a little…

The goal of my weekend trip was to visit Amani Nature Reserve with my friend Adam as he resupplied village medical workers at a clinic up above the Amani chai farms. I was riding along with the Medicine Education Africa (MEA) crew, who train rural village health workers in Tanga, then assist them with medical supplies during the course of their work. I was coming to take photos of their work and get some time behind the camera during a trip that’s been light on photography—a welcome opportunity.

In the morning, I walked to the the MEA office and met the team. Feeling a little like the observer, I helped them load medical supplies on top of the Land Cruiser, figuring I’d start taking pictures once we were up there. “Up there” meant a 2+ hour drive out of Tanga and into the mountains, but it was great: I had a friend to catch up as we bounced around on the dirt roads, and the the views of the nature reserve were spectacular.

We crossed into Amani without paying the usual fees—we’re delivering medical supplies, after all—and wound up the mountain through switchbacks upon switchbacks, hemmed in by dense, untouched jungle. It was gorgeous and cool, with rivers running by and the sun creeping through the foliage. Suddenly, we broke out of the lush reserve and into the cultivated highlands: fields upon fields of chai, the short, dark green bushes topped with neon new growth, rolling up impossible inclines and across the tops of the mountains, our road a bright red clay slash through the vivid oceans of tea.

As beautiful as it was, we had somewhere to be, and the pictures that follow were the real focus of my trip:

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The small clinic where MEA meets to resupply workers is surrounded by tea plants

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MEA staff and local healthcare workers unloading supplies

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Moving supplies

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Each worker’s books are checked against the record, then their old supplies are returned

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Workers then repack their bags with fresh supplies before returning to their villages

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Wait times are long, but provide an outlet for catching up between rural workers

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Some of the village health workers with MEA are quite young, but contribute in a major way to malaria prevention in their communities

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As a brief shower breaks out, MEA staff works away at keeping their meticulous records

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A baby plays with empty soda bottles as her mother waits to pick up her medical supplies

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After almost two hours, the long line has dwindled to the last few workers

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Juma waits as the last workers pick up their supplies

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A clinic worker returns home on foot

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The road home

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Adam holds leftover supplies as we pack up to leave

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Tying down the load for a trip back down the mountain

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The MEA team along with some local healthcare workers

 

After a successful day, all that was left was a few hours trip down the mountain, buying some tea from a local shop owner to bring back as gifts, and an evening discussing politics at the bar in Tanga—but that’s a story for another post…

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