Health Partners

Caring for Children


June 2018 Update from Zinga

Jesse Kitundu writing

A $15,000 Challenge Grant 

For helping to finish the Labor and Delivery

Building of the Mary Ellen Kitundu Memorial Birthing Center has been presented!!!


Dr. Christine Petersen has again come to the fore again to assist in saving the lives of mothers and babies at The Children’s Hospital at Zinga.  This is to be a “Christmas in July” challenge ending August 10th.    Can you assist?  Every dollar becomes two dollars, every fifty becomes $100.00 Every day we’re closer to finishing this amazing building.  


If you can help:  please send a check to:

International Health Partners, U.S.

Joyce Zemel, Treasurer

1811 So. 39thSt., #36

Mesa, AZ 85206


Go to our website, www.ihptz.organd click on PayPal


Call Joyce at 480-540-9317 and she’ll put it on your credit/debit card.


Those of you who donate whether regularly or whenever you can, have you mentioned to your friends that you’re helping to build a hospital in Tanzania?  Do you think, among all of your friends, there might be someone who would like to join you in this effort?  Can you mention it and ask?  Could your forward your Updates from us to those who might like to know how one person can make a real difference?  We’re asking a lot of our limited donor base, and having you mention it to just one other person who might respond, doubles our chance of serving patients that much sooner.  Those patients need us.  People ask, “When?  WHEN WILL THIS BUILDING BE DONE?”  Our answer is always the same, “It all depends on the donors.  When we have money, we build.”


A very exciting event happened earlier this month!  The District Commissioner came by to check out the progress.  He was VERY impressed and stated he’ll start the process for a visit by the Vice President of Tanzania before the end of September. The publicity that will generate will bring in many, many more patients to come and from further away.  

The next day a crew of civil engineers, sent by the D.C., came to see what it would take to improve the road from the main highway to our front door.  They did a very detailed analysis of the needs, the number of culverts needed, the places where the roadbed needs be raised, the amount of rock, gravel, etc. to do everything and submitted that to the budgetary committee. We are thrilled.  With a new road, patients will be able to reach us even during the wet season.  


For those of you who donated for the ambulance.  It has been delivered.  We will begin using it as soon as we get the insurance and the equipment for inside of it.  


The rains have mostly passed.  The sun comes out almost every day.  The breezes keep us comfortable, the gardens are producing flowers and luscious vegetables and fruits.  Lucy is feeding us marvelous meals.  I learn something every time she cooks.  


God has blessed us so richly.  We live in a beautiful, safe, loving place.  We work with gifted, caring, unselfish people striving to do the best they can every single day to serve the patients.  Volunteers and students contribute to our community.  YOU make it all possible.


Blessings and gratitude,



Dennis Lofstrom writing:

While building the hospital at Zinga, nothing remains etched in stone.  The plans are continually evolving.  The original 29 buildings have become 33 as more services are added by the recommendations of our volunteers to promote their various specialties, (the latest being a center for maximizing the lives of children born with disabilities, physically, psychologically, and practically, so each can live his/her life to the maximum).  


So, it’s back to the drawing board and an alteration in the placement of the units on the site plan and the layout of the chalk lines for digging the foundation trenches that our workers dig by hand and are much more precise and neat than those dug by machines back in the U.S.  Incidentally, our method is much more environmentally friendly and provides work for local people.  


If you build it, they will come.


Dear Friends of The Children’s Hospital at Zinga,

We are working hard doing the finishing of the birthing center, canteen, and round houses six and seven.

Right now we are working on the ceiling in the labor and delivery building, installing door and window frames and after that we’ll start working on the floor.  After that we’ll hang the doors and windows and screens, then the wiring and waterlines including wastewater.  

These are not small things and they cost a lot of money.  See picture below. 

Our goal is to have a quality health center, a center of excellence for the country of Tanzania and this requires all of us to work together to get it done.  It is AMAZING what all of you (and we) can do to make this happen.  

Our heartfelt thanks.  May these special thanks to out to each of you.  Thank you very much for the work you are doing there so the work can continue here.

Sincerely, Selemani Shabani


Hi!  I’m Mary Pace, a special ed teacher from Kansas City.  I’m here in Tanzania for the 9thtime.  It is hard to believe that it has been that many consistent years to be able to experience what is going on here.  As we drove through the village of Zinga to the hospital, I imagined in my mind how the site might have changed since last year.  I could have never predicted what I actually saw.

 As we turned the corner at the beginning of the property, I thought to myself, “Oh my, that this is amazing.”  I saw the tall walls of the birthing center with a tall green roof and a perfect white coat of paint. When I left last year, the walls of cement blocks and mortar was the picture I saw when we drove off the property to go to the airport.  A gray structure just sitting like a skeleton behind the clinic.  Now I saw a very tall white building that looked amazing.  I then saw a structure to my left that was completely foreign to me. It was actually an open air restaurant that is completely built that only needs a coat of paint and some screens. 

I thought to myself at this point that I had underestimated what the workers here could do.  Then I saw the foundation and beginning walls for the Neonatal/C-section Building.  The workers had three projects going on at the same time and had successfully completed the eatery, a major portion of the birthing center and the foundation/walls of Neonatal-C-section building.  Finally, I got to see the working x-ray and sonogram building.  But this was not the last of a few more of my surprises.

We had driven through the clinic area and started our journey to unload at the house and again I could not believe my eyes.  Paula and Denny’s house, only part of foundation when I left, had brick walls and a complete roof.  When I left last year, the workers had started on two more roundhouses and only had the foundations completed.  I was looking at 2 completed roundhouses with roofs and coats of white paint.  One was completely done and ready to move into.  The other house only needed the bathroom completed.  

At this point, I realized that my $25.00 donations and my volunteer time here did make a difference in what could happen here in Zinga.  My donation of $25.00 didn’t seem like a whole lot when I sent it.  But my donation along with other donations had been a factor in being able to complete all of this construction. Donating my time is actually a fun experience for me, but I also help others to be free to work on more important projects.  Every volunteer has a key role in how this project works and survives.  Without us, it definitely would not be where it is today. Volunteers have completed so many projects here in the last 5 years.  Without us, The Children’s Hospital at Zinga would not be where it is today.  My work and donations are a vital part of my life and self-being.  It is what makes me who I am today.  Most people have something that does this same thing for them. My advice is to decide if you have that vital part in your life already.  If not, this is the place to find that vital part.  Just remember that your donation and/or volunteering helps so many that otherwise wouldn’t get the help they need.  


My name is Michael Sarvi and I came to the Zinga Children’s Hospital after completing my first year at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. I decided to spend three weeks shadowing at the Zinga Children’s Hospital because I wanted to have a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by healthcare providers in developing countries and better equip myself to serve in such countries in the future.

Little could have prepared me for the transformative experience I have had thus far— I have been thoroughly impressed by the health system created by International Health Partners and the ripples of change it is already bringing to the region. From what I have seen, it is clear that this organization has struck a perfect balance of patient-centered and population-care that keeps costs low (or free) without compromising quality of care. It has been eye-opening to see the severity and acuity of many of the patients being seen at the clinic, and understanding the unfortunate reality that the local government hospitals are understaffed, under-resourced, and under-trained to care for such gravely ill and injured patients.  Furthermore, at Zinga’s Children, I have witnessed countless cases of malaria, typhoid fever, and other infections screened for early in the disease process and treated before the symptoms worsened or the possibility of death became more likely; thus, saving patients from unnecessary suffering, risk of death, and increased financial burden of disease. 

I love the fact that IHP employs providers that are from the very communities that are being served. The rapport and trust I’ve witnessed between patients and health providers is quite tangible. Furthermore, it is clear that these health providers are more knowledgeable about the unique ailments seen in their communities than any non-native provider would be. 

On a more personal level, this experience has further fueled my interest in pursuing a career in primary care for underserved populations. The experience has reminded me that the years of long days and late nights of studying for exams are not futile, but rather vital to empowering me to be a competent physician. Furthermore, I have been humbled from witnessing the profound impact that the Lofstroms, Dr. Kitundu, and their team have had in improving health outcomes for the people of Tanzania. I am inspired by their resilience and ingenuity in overcoming barriers to care and getting this project off the ground, against all odds. I am already making plans to return to Tanzania after my 3rd and 4th year, when I will be better prepared to serve at the Zinga Children’s Hospital. I am excited to see how far this project has come by then.

I want to express my thanks to the donors of this project who have made this project possible for students like me. I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity, and I know that I will carry many of these experiences and memories with me in both my personal and professional life. 

Kris Chatterjee
First year medical student at Mayo Clinic Arizona 
Truthfully I had only the vaguest idea of what I was signing up for when I decided to spend my first summer as a medical student at the children's hospital in Zinga, a village 30 minutes away from the capital Dar Es Salaam, which is a full 22 hours of flight time from my home in Phoenix. I knew that there was great need for healthcare in Tanzania but nearly nothing about what that need actually looked like. I certainly didn't board that plane carrying any pretensions that I would do much to address this need now as a first year medical student. I did arrive, however, with more than 23 kg of curiosity. After a year of trying to rewire my brain in terms of medicine, and knowing that the bare bones of medicine must be the same everywhere, I was curious what this universal act of helping those who are suffering would look like in Zinga, a place foreign to me in about as many ways as possible. 

After only a week here, I'm relearning what it means to help those who are suffering and falling in love with it anew. The patients here face struggles to maintain their health that I can hardly having to do strenuous farm work only days after delivering their child. And when they do get sick, it seems like the whole world is conspiring to keep them sick. Hurdles in ability to pay, hospital infrastructure, availability of tests, diagnostic ability of physicians, transport to hospital, and literally everywhere else there can be hurdles. Layer on top of this the fact that nearly every infectious agent on earth is waiting... in the soil food water pounce at the slightest weakness. With so much going on, I get reminded of how much easier it is to simply forget the suffering that isn't ours and the endless ways it continues. 

But this children's hospital in Zinga is, in sum, a place that strives not to forget. When Dr Bon grazes the hair of his patient as she writhes in abdominal pain, I can see that he doesn't forget any of the suffering here. I see him and our other clinicians reading books between patients, and being open to knowledge from anyone (even a first year medical student) if it means coming closer to finding the root of someone's illness. The hospital as a whole is perpetually mindful of what it can do to most effectvely help alleviate as much suffering as possible- like building a birthing center where there is none around - and in a way that will last. Here every step that brings someone to the hospital, and every hurdle to getting out, is worth addressing for the individual, for the population at large, and for good. Seeing all this, I can't help but feel reinvigorated about the power of cooperation, compassion, curiosity, and the other virtues essential to medicine in shedding light on even in the darkest of corners.


My name is Alanna De Mello and I am visiting Zinga from Scottsdale, Arizona in the United States.  (My home is in Canada).  Having just completed my first year of medical school at the Mayo Clinic, I came to Zinga eager to use my passion for global health along with my freshly learned (albeit limited)  clinical skills to help in the hospital while also expanding my knowledge of Tanzanian culture. I chose Zinga specifically for two reasons. Firstly, Eastern Africa has always held a special place in my heart. My father was born in Mombasa, Kenya, and in 2013 I visited his hometown and fell in love with the area, leaving with an itch to return to Eastern Africa one day. Second, and most importantly, when I learned about the work that the Lofstroms were doing in Zinga, I felt that their vision was the kind of sustainable and effective project that I wanted to contribute to - one that I believed would have a lasting impact on visiting patients long after leaving the clinic.

After arriving in Zinga, I realized instantly that the latter could not be more true. The work that is being done in this clinic is truly outstanding. With a staff totaling nearly 50 people, the Children’s Hospital at Zinga is in its essence, a community working together with a shared vision of bettering health outcomes in Tanzania. Most members of the team are local Tanzanians. Dr. Kitundu, Dr. Clara, Dr. Bon, and Dr. Eric are experienced clinicians who are all passionate about addressing health disparities existing in Tanzania, especially in children. As the first Children’s Hospital in Tanzania, Zinga is addressing critical gaps in the Tanzanian healthcare system by providing top of the line care to children who otherwise would not likely have access to a paediatrician. Complete with a lab, a radiography center, an operating room, and a pharmacy, the hospital is equipped to provide nearly all tests and required interventions that can be done by a general paediatrician. 

During my first week in the clinic, I saw a complete variety of cases including the “typical” cases of malaria, typhoid fever, and fungal infections, to less frequent cases like sickle cell anemia, and ochanderiosis (nematode worms found under the skin). Ihave been amazed at the way that clinicians like Dr. Kitundu can interact so well with a crying baby, knowing just how to calm them down while also putting the family at ease. He taught us “You need to build a friendship with your Paediatric patients”, something which I will always remember. One of the things that I admire the most about this clinic is that the care is very patient-centred, and focuses on education. The clinicians spend as long as needed with each patient, making sure that they leave with a good understanding of their health, along with the knowledge that is needed for them to help take care of themselves when they go home. This is an example of high quality care that will likely have a lasting impact on patients and their families of whom they share their education with. 

The vision that the team at Zinga has for the hospital is constantly expanding. Currently, there is a Maternal Birthing Center and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit under construction. Once completed, these spaces will further address critical health disparities in maternal and infant health that are highly prevalent in the country. It is clear that the operations team here has carefully identified critical gaps in the current system, and are working to address these gaps in the most sustainable and effective way possible. 

During my first year of medical school, I have been very fortunate to have had many opportunities for learning both inside and outside the classroom. No opportunity this year has been more enriching than my experience in Zinga so far, and for this I am eternally grateful. This experience has not only broadened my understanding of medicine, but has shown me what can be possible with a commitment and dedication to creating meaningful change. The work that the community has done here is incredibly inspiring. Though they have faced much adversity to get here, the team keeps on pushing forward with their vision of accessible, affordable, and top quality care for Tanzanian children. As a future doctor, I hope to one day help impact my community in some way. Understanding a model like the Zinga project would be a good place to start.

Paula writing again:

There you have it.  Please think of joining us in building this dream.  It’s worth it. 

Blessings and gratitude,

Paula and Denny