Tanzania - Malaria, Kilimanjaro and Deliveries
- Niamh O Riordan.
I came into Tanzania carrying Malaria in me. Crossing the border, my temperature was thirty eight degrees. That's when I knew I had it. I was absolutely terrified. I cried and cried all that day. It was hours before I was tested and knew what to do. And all the time my condition was deteriorating rapidly. Malaria is Africa's biggest killer and I, a foreigner, have no immunity whatsoever. It can be lethal within hours. But we must have had a band of angels looking out for us because we got some good help from Dr. Andrew Collins of the Malaria Consortium (a Cork man) and Sr. Kate Costigan (from Tipp) and were taken in by Fr. Alfred Sebahene, a Tanzanian Anglican priest. With proper medication, I began to improve rapidly and tested negative for the parasites within 3 days. I never want to go through that again.
Several good things came out of this though. We met Fr. Alfred and stayed with him and his family for almost a week. And then we visited Sr. Kate in Mwamapala. She is a missionary nurse based in a remote hospital. During our stay we visited their anti-natal, leprosy and paediatric wards. I even saw the births of two baby boys. Can you imagine it? Maybe, it's best not to. But I'll never forget it.
So after the Malaria, we decided to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Why not? It's only Africa's biggest mountain and I was just after Africa's biggest killer. So why not? Half the people who attempt to climb it fail to reach the summit. Altitude sickness forces many to turn back. Others are not fit enough. some don't realize what they're in for. We chose a longer route and took more days than usual but still I got very sick. We were caught in a blizzard at 4500m and I endured the worst day of my life. It was terrible. We turned the following day and came back down. Not to be defeated, we made a second attempt. This time, the weather was perfect and we were better acclimatized. After climbing through the night, we summitted shortly after dawn on our sixth day. I cannot believe it actually happened. I have to periodically look at the photos to believe it really happened.