|Oren, ready for Valentines|
There has been a two-week gap between entries because early February can be a slow time of year at work. We are right between reporting periods and the time of actively developing new concept papers for the coming fiscal year is still a month or so away. Despite that, a number of things have happened, primarily around kids and school, but I want to note one major success for me at work which could be a follow-on to my Anatomy of a Success entry. After a long and sometimes arduous process, I have succeeded in getting an article published based on research I did with some colleagues on one of our projects. The citation and link are below in case you would like to see it:
Mosley, P.D., Saruni, K. & Lenga, B. Factors influencing adoption of facility-assisted delivery - a qualitative study of women and other stakeholders in a Maasai community in Ngorongoro District, Tanzania. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 20, 100 (2020).
The problem that led to the eventual publication of this study, came from the work in our maternal and child health project in a Maasai community in Ngorongoro. Our partner was trying to promote the practice of attending ante-natal care (ANC) for pregnant women, and getting them to go to a facility for a safe skilled delivery. While there was acceptance and uptake of the former, women really preferred to have a birth at home with a traditional birth attendant. We wanted to better understand what aspects of a home delivery made it preferable to a facility and whether those benefits could be duplicated at a facility.
To pursue the question we began by writing out a proposal to address these research questions and submitted it to a funder around Jan of 2018. By April 2018 we were approved for funding. From there we sought ethical approval from the government of Tanzania ethics board (National Institute of Medical Research) who took about 7 months to approve us (end of Nov. 2018). We did the surveys in December of 2018 and had them all transcribed and translated by Jan 2019. I did the data analysis in Feb. 2019 and began the process of coding and sharing results with key stakeholders until the end of April 2019. I submitted the first manuscript to BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth in June 2019. Over the next 7 months I went back and forth through 4 revisions requested by peer reviewers and editors. In Jan. 2020, the manuscript was accepted for publication and it came out on Feb. 12, 2020. From start to finish, it took a little over 2 years. There were times during the revision process that I could barely stand to look at the paper again and almost wanted to just give up. (There were times in our prayer group that I just prayed for the perseverance to even dive back in again when a major revision, like rewriting the results section was requested). The accomplishment does feel good though and is quite humbling when you have to listen to extensive criticism of your hard work.
Among the major activities of the past two weeks, was participation in Chinese New Year which was celebrated as a school-wide event on a Saturday at St. Constantines. The school uses a 'round-square' approach which embraces a number of values, including 'internationalism' and this day was an example. It was designed to give participants a taste of what celebrations in China of the new year is like. (This is the Year of the Rat and Rebecca, David, and I are all Rats!).
The celebration was huge and well attended by members of the community, despite some irrational fear that such a celebration would spread the coronavirus. Sadly, a number of Chinese special guests were not in attendance, perhaps from fear of creating some anxiety among attenders that they may be infected. Despite that, there were many Chinese themed activities including a parade, dragon dance, fireworks display, martial arts demonstration, 'dragon boat' races (which I will elaborate on), and in the evening a karaoke-style music performances by a number of students.
The weather was miraculously clear as it had been pouring right up until the event opened at noon, then began pouring again just at it ended around 8pm. I took many pictures, but the highlight event that I enjoyed most was the dragon boats. For those not familiar, these are wood and cardboard constructed 'vessels' that look like long boats with a dragon head prow. There is no bottom, so 7 people can get inside and walk in single file carrying it while they are inside. The real challenge is that they wear a long set of skis with 7 loops on each side so they must all slide their feet together left, then right, without getting out of step. It does not sound too hard, but some found it nearly impossible. There were also a number of spectacularly funny capsizings when people got out of stip, tripped up and keeled over sideways.
They had races for every age group, then a race of faculty vs. 'fundis' (maintenance crew). The fundis won by a nose, but it was really quite a spectacle and passionate cheering from everyone watching. We had a very good time, and Rebecca is sort of a celebrity as a member of the leadership of the parents' association. I am also well known by many of the kids who come to Sunday school at our church. We definitely feel a part of that community.
Speaking of church, we had our Annual General Meeting last week after church on Sunday. It seems that every non-governmental institution of Tanzania must have an annual general meeting of members at least once a year, and our church is one of those. It also serves other purposes for us of course including getting new people on our Church Council (elders groups) as well as recruiting new committee members. It is a bit dull for the kids though and fortunately our friends the Taylors took our kids home with them so Rebecca and I could participate fully. We had our small group later that day which continues to be a blessing in helping all of cope with challenges of life here. Quite a number of prayer requests are around successfully completing and being approved for work and residence permits so people aren't kicked out of the country in the middle of their jobs.
David had a number of activities in the past 2 weeks including an assembly where his class did a skit about one of the round/square school values, followed by a swim meet. David continues to accel in swimming particularly the backstroke where he easily took first place in his race.
Also last week was David's turn to go on a school activities week adventure. His class went to a place in Kenya called Savage Wilderness, which is basically an adventure camp with ropes and rock climbing, ziplines, mountain biking, white water rafting, paddleboarding and other water activities. I took him to the bus at 5am last Monday and he returned this past Friday afternoon. While he was gone we did some activities with Oren that were special to him, including playing different board games in the evening, and went and saw the film 1917, as Oren is quite a World War I and II buff. It was very interesting, and he liked it.
Oren also went to a Valentine's day formal dance at his school this past Thursday. It was a mixer for year 10-13 (high school). He did not take a date, but hung out with friends. While he was at the dance, Rebecca and I were able to have a date night of our own and went to coffee lodge for a very nice Valentine's dinner. We picked up Oren after the dance and he gave us a middling report saying that there were not many kids from his class and he felt like a bit of a wallflower. I told him it would probably get easier each year when he is more of an upperclassman in that context rather than a freshman. He did look good in his black suit though. (I went out and bought him the black jacket for about $7 at a store in town for the occasion.)
David came back on Friday completely enthusiastic about what a great place Savage Wilderness was. He loved white water rafting the most and really wants to do it again sometime. We were very happy to see him back and this week the kids will have their one week mid-term break. That is always a bit challenging for parents as we negotiate child care and work.
We came home from work on Friday to an exciting construction project on our property as a leaky water tank on our water tower meant a group of men lowering down a 10,000 liter tank from our very high tower, and raising up a 5000 liter one. It was quite a project and took many workers, rope, and sticks. Happily we have running water again. We are also getting a covering over our front porch which should make it more usable in the rainy season. It will be nice to be able to put some furniture out there.
|Me trying out early Birthday gift,(more later.)|
|Oren getting icecream at Chinese New Year festival|