The Sydney Stewart Memorial Trust

The Sydney Stewart Memorial Trust

26 Mar 2015 - By Stephen McIlwaine

Stephen Stewart 3rd Year, Medicine, Robinson College received a grant from The Sydney Stewart Memorial Trust in 2008 has kindly sent a summary of the project which the grant contributed towards.

Robinson College MedSoc – Travel Report


Destination     Moshi, Tanzania

Dates              30/06/08 - 11/08/08

Project title    Madventurer Community and Livelihood Project – Moshi Villages


Text Box: Madventurer team working with local builders to construct the school kitchen.

I chose to travel to Tanzania during the summer vacation after finishing my second year exams to work on a humanitarian project with Madventurer, a non-profit organization which facilitates development projects in local communities.  I spent six weeks in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania with a team of twelve other volunteers from the UK, France and Canada.  During the week, we stayed in a house in Nkweshoo, a small village in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.  At the weekends, we stayed in a hostel in Moshi, the main town in the region.



Our main objective for the six weeks was to build a kitchen for the primary school in Nkweshoo.  The school children ate breakfast and lunch at school and the current catering facilities consisted of a wooden hut with little natural light and no running water.  We worked with local builders to construct a spacious building, providing a hygienic area and comfortable workspace in which to prepare food for the school children.  We also taught English to the school children.  I worked with a class of 6-8-year-olds.  It was challenging to teach effectively with my limited knowledge of Swahili, but by planning lessons and working with the local teacher, the pupils’ English slowly improved over the six weeks, as did my Swahili!

Text Box: Left: Adam and I, with some of the school children who we taught over the six weeks. Right: A diagram of basic neuroanatomy from the class’ science textbook, which I painted on the classroom wall.

As a medical student, I also had the opportunity spend four days shadowing Dr Kingu, a doctor who worked at a nearby community hospital.  The hospital primarily served the workers of the local sugar processing plant and their families.  Dr Kingu worked from 7am to 5pm, seven days a week.  He was often the only doctor available and so had to deal with all medical and surgical presentations.  Occasionally surgeons would visit from other hospitals to tackle more complex cases.  He told me he was currently learning more advanced orthopaedic procedures so he could manage these cases independently.  I was inspired by how efficiently the staff worked with such limited resources.  I saw several cases tropical infections, such as schistosomiasis and malaria, as well as many HIV-related illnesses.  I also assisted in an outreach clinic, which ran a neonatal vaccination programme.

Text Box: The whole team celebrating the completion of the kitchen, which was followed by a feast of goat curry!

We had some time off during the six weeks and used this time to travel to Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar.  Dar Es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania and provided an opportunity to learn more about the history and politics of the country, while Zanzibar provided a welcome rest, with our time spent on the beach and enjoying the seafood.



Our project provided a kitchen for the school, which will hopefully be used for many years.  The work of Madventurer will continue in this village, with future projects planned for next summer.  I personally gained a wealth of experience from this trip – an appreciation of the local culture, skills in construction, a deeper understanding of teamwork and communication, new teaching skills, and exposure tropical medicine in a resource-limited setting.  My only complaint is that six weeks was not long enough!

Visit the Volunteer Now website