Thanks to the association Jengo la Watoto and the Rotary club of Dar es-Salaam, we have been able to organize art activities for the sick children and a wallpainting with two Tanzanian artists at the new Pediatric Oncology Ward at Muhimbili National Hospital. It has been an extraordinary human experience.
The two days with the sick children were very intense and thanks to an adorable team of volunteers (Charlie, Lisa, Rachel, Stéphanie, Charlotte and Ingrid), who answered at once to help, it was even a richer experience. We created a wonderful submarine landscape based on printed works, cut and sticked shapes and materials.
After the work, we organized an exhibition by hanging the creations of the children on a rope and by fixing the others on the big underwater panorama painted on a wide paper.
It took approximately 8 days to the artists finish this giant underwater landscape. During the first part, they worked essentially in studio to create different type of printings: stencils (for graffiti), woodcut and lino prints, pen drawings and papercut.
"It was an amazing experience. At the beginning, the children were looking at us as strangers. Then they started to become used to our presence, smiling at us knowingly. Everyday they came to sit behind us to see the changes in the artwork: laughing, singing, waiting to be part of it and even sometimes falling asleep".- Francis Imanjama -
© Chris Morgan
The second part was dedicated to work in situ, at the ward, painting the wall and sticking the artworks together on it.
On the opening day, the ribbon has been cut for the official opening day in in presence of Jane Goodall herself!
In 2009, childhood cancer survival in Tanzania was only 12%! Although there was a facility for children with cancer there was severe over-crowding in the wards and it did not have adequate medical facilities for cancer treatment. Some children did not survive the cancer due to cross infections they were exposed to due to over crowding where there were 3-4 kids to a bed.
Furthermore, nowadays, most childhood cancer are curable if detected early enough and properly treated with good medical care. That is how the Rotary decided to help by building a new ward. Thanks to them, the children have a bright new ward of 400 sqmts with 23 beds and with 5 isolation rooms. Every bed has been provided with piped oxygen and this means no child will have to be at the mercy of decision making on who will receive oxygen in times of need.
But the biggest part of the work is of course due to the excellent care and services given by Doctors and nurses, which raised the childhood cancer survival rate in Tanzania up to 55% (still well below where it could and should be when the average is around 80% in more developed countries).