Myself (Robin Stocksdale), Marian Colimore, Sharmean Young and Becky Stephenson have successfully arrived in Tanzania!
Today’s edition of our news will be called “The Saga of the Suitcases.”
Thank you to all who donated suitcases to take supplies to Tanzania. And to all who donated the supplies! We spent 5 hours last Thursday night packing 14 suitcases of about 40-50 pounds each of wound care supplies, ointments, lab coats, stethoscopes, hand sanitizer etc.
The saga starts here. I had spoken with Delta KLM multiple times over the past year to book tickets, always talking about our Medical Mission Trip. When we realized we would have 14 suitcases (over the 2 per person allotted, meaning 6 extra suitcases) I called again, and was finally told that we could apply for a humanitarian waiver of the extra baggage fees. So I applied. We had no answer before we left. So I then learned that we could pay for the extra baggage on line and get a 20% discount. When I was not successful, I learned we weren’t eligible for the discount because we booked it through Delta vs. KLM, and we were told that we could beg at the airport. Also, that the cost per baggage was DOUBLE what we paid when we sent our 3 travelers from Tanzania back to Tanzania in 2013.
Unfortunately, the gate only had the power to reduce our payment by the 20% discount, so when we get back we’ll have to work with Delta to see what else can be done.
The flights were great – they fed us constantly!
Upon our arrival to the Arusha airport in Tanzania, we thankfully found all 14 suitcases plus carry ons! Not wanting to unload all 18 bags again at customs, I said “do we have to put them through? They are filled with medical supplies.” Stupid! Next thing I know I had to go to the Health Department office and was told we should have a Tanzania FDA permit. It took me a lot of hand-holding of the customs official, a lot of begging and showing pictures of one child who needs the supplies, before the official allowed me to bring Dr. Samuel Kiwesa into the airport, who then explained what was going on. After some quiet negotiations (about 30 minutes of me sweating) we were allowed through! Note to self, do not say you’re carrying medical supplies.
Then our friends loaded everything on the roof of the ambulance and another jeep…and we’re off to the guest house! We had a delicious dinner made by Mama Kyara. There was some difficulty connecting to wifi, but we discovered this morning that we hadn’t turned it on! Now we’re all set.
Today we are being greeted by the Bishop of the Lutheran Diocese of Meru and the General Secretary, then off to Nkoaranga Hospital for an orientation, then to the local markets to shop for more items to sell at our Tanzania fundraisers.
We’ll write more tonight.
Thank you all for your generosity, support, donations, thoughts and prayers.
More later –
Robin, Becky, Shar and Marian