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June 2019 Update from Zinga

Jesse Kitundu writing:

Dear Friends to Mothers and Children of Tanzania,

This is Jesse Kitundu, Medical Director of the Children’s Hospital at Zinga writing:

I thank all of those who took their time to come to Zinga and see what we are doing.  

The months of May and June are when the rainy season ends and the weather becomes cooler.  The cool weather extends up to August when the early rains start again.  The end of the rainy season means there are fewer patients as compared to the rainy season.  Our roads also inhibit access to the hospital during the rainy season, so there is an impact then, also on the number of patients who can make it to be seen.  This limits the number and variety of patients experienced by some of our visiting medical students and residents.  We’re hoping in the future, and with our now being approved to receive the national health insurance we anticipate that the patient numbers will increase significantly.  

The project is progressing as well as the services to patients.  We are so grateful for the doctors, farmers, mechanics, and other experts who have come to share their areas of expertise with us. 

Thank you again, Jesse

Denny and Paula Lofstrom writing:

Another Challenge Grant!  Christmas in July!!

Dr. Christine Petersen is again offering a Christmas in July Challenge grant of $15,000 to finish the Mary Ellen Kitundu Memorial Birthing Center.  

The “sanitaries” as they’re called out here need to be installed.  We haven’t bought them yet.  

Toilets 16pcs@560,000/T.shillings  each=. . . . .. .. . .$3,947.14  

Sinks 20pcs@320,000/T-shillings. each= . . . . . . . .  . . .   $2,819.38

Shower mixers 16pcs@ 200,000 T-shillings each=. . . .    $1,409.69 

Angle valves 72 pcs @17,000 T-shillings each=. . . . . .        $539.20 

Station chamber covers 32 pcs @60,000 T-shillings each/= $845.81

Total is $9,561.22 (Plus labor)

To help IHP finish the birthing center and to continue with all the other building projects, please send a check to:

IHP - Matt West, Treasurer

8016 No. Everton Ave.

Kansas City, MO  64152 

or, go to our website, and click on PayPal, 


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

I’m not sure Santa is accustomed to being asked for toilets for Christmas, but for women in labor, and after delivering, it’s a pretty wonderful gift (though too large for a Christmas stocking).

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”

God has sent us such good help here as volunteers in all areas, please see below.  YOU have made the progress so far possible with your donations.  

The first surgical team is coming from Kansas and due here on about July 26th.  So, the birthing center must have at least a few rooms done for post-op patients.  It’s going to be a push and we don’t have the money at this point to do what needs to be done.  We trust God and show up for work.  We trust that God will put it into your mind to give what you can if you can.  

Mary Ellen Kitundu’s last words were, “You must continue.”  It has been three sad years since we lost her, but we are continuing and the building that will bear her name is almost ready.  

Below is our speaking schedule.  There are some changes.  Please note when we may be near you either for open Sundays or for mid-week possibilities in between, i.e. speaking at Rotary clubs, Kiwanis, and Lions, receptions in your homes or the local libraries or restaurants.  We trust God to put the people in front of us with ears to hear and hearts to give.  

Blessings and gratitude,

Paula and Denny

Selemani Shabani, Contractor for IHP writing:

Hi Everyone!

This is a greeting from Zinga, Bagamoyo at The Children’s Hospital in Tanzania.  We are so grateful for all the work that has been done here and that is thanks to you, our donors.  

We are installing the doors in the Mary Ellen Kitundu Memorial Birthing Center.  After the doors are hung then we will be hanging the ceilings and painting the walls.  

Really, a lot of work has been done because of the generous contributions that you have been sending to IHP.  Also, many people have been able to have jobs because of your help!  

I can say that whenever we see these changes and progress, we see you because without you there is no IHP and no hospital.  I am deeply thankful for your providing jobs here through your donations and also through that, we are having this hospital and through this hospital, people are being served.  Thank you so much!

I just want to let you know that this month we are very low as has happened before in the U.S. summertime.  As Paula says, “We need a little Christmas in July!”  We have had to let casual workers go for now.  We’re not hiring any new people.  We used to have 22 construction people, but since we are very low in cash, we remain with only those personnel are permanent staff, five (5) people.  Because of that, we cannot do any big jobs, only small jobs at this point.  

In the past years, when we didn’t have money for the building, we just cut grass until the funds came in again.  But now it is critical to get the birthing center done.  So, I am asking for your help and support so we can proceed with the work here.  I know and I understand you have a lot to do, but think of how many lives you are touching, how many families you are touching with your contributions!  Please remember, we are one team together to get this work done.  

Once again, thank you, thank you, thank you, so much.

Stay blessed, you and your families,

Selemani Shabani

IHP-JEMA-TZ Contractor

Hi again. This is Mary Pace from Kansas City, Missouri on my 10th trip to Tanzania.  I have done many jobs in my time here to help, but I do not believe that any have been so rewarding as the work I am doing with special needs patients here at Zinga.  I started this new journey in my life by changing my focus of teaching from regular educations to Special Education.  During this time I have had the benefit of learning Physical, Occupational and Speech therapy from some very talented women in the US.  Dr. Bon recognized my skill and immediately incorporated me into the lives of children in the village.  If you have kept up with my updates in the last couple of years, you have been able to hear about some of the amazing things we have been able to do for these children.  

I came back this year with 4 regular patients to begin my journey.  The little boy in the picture is named Mirki (or Mac as his mother so affectionately calls him).  Mirki was one of 9 patients under the age of 12 that visited regularly by the end of my stay last year.  I have been here for 2 weeks this trip and have seen him at least 3 times so far.  His mother is very dedicated to making sure he gets here so that I can work with her son for an hour at a time. 

Mirki is a very happy boy that loves to laugh.  He is a great joy to interact with because he always makes me smile.  Mirki is a lover of music and loves when I sing to him, even though, my singing abilities are not the best.  As you can see, smiling is a big part of our time together.  This time is used to stretch his arms and legs.  We are also working hard to help him gain strength in his back and neck to be able to sit up with his head upright when someone gives him back support. He has ankle-foot orthotics to help in his ability to support his body with his lowest extremities and uses a stander at home to strengthen those muscles. 

In 2008, when I went to church on a particular Sunday in Kansas City, I never dreamed that I would be one that could make that kind of impact on another person’s life.  I thought to myself that I had no real skills to offer, but I could wash a dish or use a paintbrush.  I just knew then I had a desire to go and try my best.  We never know what we can do to help in this world without actually taking the leap and trying.  God always has a plan for us.  I believe with all my heart that this was GOD’s plan for me.  To come here to clean away mold, to help with baking, to wash dishes, to do laundry and iron if that was my way of helping to make a difference.  I still came every year thinking that it was my calling to just be a support to staff do those types of things.  

We all have skills that God has not revealed to us yet.  I learned about many of mine here in this amazing place.  I have gained confidence as a person that I will have for the rest of my life.  I know I make a difference whether it’s washing a spoon, cleaning, or helping a child in the clinic.  I challenge you to find the way that you can make a difference here if you are not doing so already.  Whether it is planning a trip here to do some of the things I have done or just provide a few dollars a month to help the people here is making a difference.  In the last 10 years,  I have learned that I have been able to do all three.  I would not have recognized what God had given me if I had not taken the leap of faith and actually acted on my desires.  

My 4-year-old grand-daughter never says “Why do you have to go meme, I want you to stay here with me..”  At 4 she looks at me with her all-knowing look and knows that this is me. Her mother and father tell her what I do here in Tanzania, and she never gets upset that she will not see me for 2 months.  She looks at me with a knowing smile on her face and tells me she will see me when I get back.  As we also know children she also says, “Meme I want a stuffed lion from Africa.  Don’t forget.”   At 4 she understands the importance of this journey.  

I leave you with this thought:   What can you do to make your heart warm and know that you have made a difference in this world?  Eleven years ago I could have not answered that question.  Now I have so many answers sometimes I don’t know if I could list them all.  How about you?

My name is Linda Willis and I’m from Salt Lake City, UT

This is my first opportunity to serve at Zinga.  What an amazing experience to be a very small part of a Very Big Vision to bring health care to women and children in this area.  It never ceases to amaze me how one person’s original thought becomes a vision of many who work to bring it to fruition.  

My time here filled and nourished my soul and renewed my commitment to serve and share God’s abundance with which I have been blessed.  I retired a year ago from a business I started and managed for 40 years.  I am a young 70 years of age and find meaning and purpose in travel and doing human Italian projects all over the world.

I am Louise Bown.  Three years ago was my first trip to Zinga.  The foundation for the birthing center was just being poured.  Now, three years later I see much progress.  It’s almost ready to open!  

Two years ago I brought my own team and we made keyhole gardens to teach gardening and nutrition to the local people visiting the hospital as there are many undernourished children here.  This year we made two more.  It’s fun to see the plants growing with nourishing food.  These demonstration gardens show growth from just being planted to harvesting for a full picture of how they work using compost, mulch, and household waste.  

The new house/hostel was a dream three years ago and now is a reality.  The grounds are beautiful! Joakim is an expert gardener.  

One of the best surprises of the trip is always the interesting people we meet.  This time it was a dentist, Dr. Sam Richey and his son Ashton and his dental assistant Tarin and her husband Elliott.  Of course, the swimming pool is always refreshing after a hot work day.  The cooks are fantastic and Paula and Denny are delightful.

We are Ginny and Gary Poppen from Reinbeck, Iowa

We have been friends of Denny and Paula for most of our adult lives.  After 17 years of hearing about their ambitious visions, we have come to see their accomplishments.  AMAZING.  Their starting point here was bare ground and now they are treating patients.  

We saw how much infrastructure is needed just to treat a person.  Please keep them in your prayers and continue to support them!

Hello!  My name is Robert (Bob) Newberry.  I am a retired Marketing Professor born and raised in Wisconsin.  My previous international experience includes one school year stint at the University of Copenhagen (1975-76), numerous treks to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada, and a previous 150day mission and safari in Tanzania with IHP.  Not being medically trained, I wondered how I could contribute.  Obviously, since I returned 8 years later, there are plenty of opportunities to contribute even if not medically trained.  On this trip, I worked with Paula on backing up data, integrating new laptops to the IT environment, and a number of miscellaneous activities involving office work, publishing the previous update, and around the grounds.  By the way, I am not IT trained, but we used trial and error to provide assistance.  We plan to return within the next two years since the work is never-ending and outstandingly rewarding.

This is Shirley Newberry.  I am returning with my husband Bob.  We were in Tanzania 8 years ago on a medical mission with a Gunderson Lutheran Hospital team and have been raising money for IHP every year since.  This is the passion of my life!  

We decided to come this year to get a feeling for the place, see what they have built over the last 5 years, and see old friends.  Much has occurred over this time: land purchased, buildings have been built, some of the people we knew in the past have left and new people have joined in the hospital.  Most noticeably, my friend has passed on to a higher purpose.  Every day I think of Mary Ellen Kitundu and miss her. 

We, Lynn Sandager, and I have been busy doing inventory in the outpatient clinic, and I was lucky to spend a day with Bibiana (former Dean of the St. John’s University School of Nursing in Dodoma) working on a palliative care curriculum.  Thanks to Maureen Gerson, a former colleague, for her contribution to this cause.  

One day while here we spent the morning emptying a sea container and doing inventory on the contents.  Guess you could say that Lynn and I have been proficient in audits.  It has been a great experience to come here and do useful work.  We’re looking forward to returning in a year to host other groups while Paula and Denny are in the U.S. doing fundraising, and to continue the mission at Zinga.  

Habari.  My name is Lauren Manning.  I’m a teacher, fitness teacher, scuba instructor and am generally on an ocean!  Inland Zinga has been a real change and I enjoyed it all.

This was my first (but won’t be my last) visit to Zinga.  It is a very green place with mango, avocado, and cashew nut trees.  Rice paddies line the road winding up to the clinic.  It rained daily and I see why it is green!  

We inventoried the medical equipment and supplies container.  After two days it was cleaner, more organized, and more useful to the Head Matron, Miriam.  She can find supplies more easily.  

We also helped Paula set up her store.  Future visitors will now be able to enjoy shopping for local Tanzanian crafts right beside their dining area.  

As a teacher, a highlight was a visit to a local public elementary school.  We provided “Days for Girls” kits and Lisa presented a lesson on the topic of girls maturing into women.  The students were delightful, attentive, and very appreciative.  Miriam translated.

We enjoyed delicious local fruits in Paula’s home, and her baking a pineapple upside down cake, pumpkin cookies, and mango pie.  Meals included lots of fresh vegetables a’ la’ Lucy.  It proved to be an interesting week and suddenly, it’s over!  

Hello!  My name is Lisa Abrahams and I am a retired school nurse from Truckee, CA.  I met Paula and Denny about 10 years ago and knew from the first meeting and learning about what they were doing in Tanzania, that I would one day volunteer down here.  I have always been inspired by their tenacity and the work they have done and continue to do here in Zinga to help to improve healthcare access for the people of Tanzania.  Their dedication is inspiring!  So, when the opportunity came up to go this spring, I seized upon it and started last September to make plans and preparations for my trip.  

I wanted to go as a medical professional to volunteer as a nurse in the clinic but I inadvertently became involved in the Days for Girls project and that was a most rewarding thing.  The project involves providing sustainable feminine hygiene products for girls in countries where, due to lack of feminine hygiene products, or girls’ inability to afford them, means the girls are not attending school during their menstruation periods.  This can amount to up to 60 days in a school year taking a toll on their academic progress.  

So, today was the culmination of my learning about the project, learning to be a presenter and making the kits, and presenting them along with education to the girls.  We ended up giving out 111 brightly colored kids to some very happy young girls.  They received them with great anticipation and happiness.  It was like Christmas morning.  

Greetings from Rich and Lynn Sandager, Scandia, MN.

Rich:  My first association with IHP was in Mwanza where I met the Lofstroms.  I traveled with my cousin Mike to Tanzania to work on an agricultural project through Lutheran Global Missions.  Paula and Denny graciously took us in for occasional meals and socializing. 

 Once our mission was complete, we remained in touch with the Lofstroms.  Our paths crossed several times over the next eight years and with those contacts we were encouraged to come to take a look at the agricultural opportunities available at Zinga.  

Rick and Lynn:  We are amazed and impressed with the progress made here!  The agricultural opportunities here are almost unlimited.  Hopefully, we can come up with a plan that’s functional and sustainable.  A plan that will also educate the people in the community with agricultural practicalities and nutritional education.  

We have been warmly welcomed and have met many amazing people.  It was great to have this opportunity to learn, share, and grow.

Rick and Lynn Sandager

2019 – 2020 speaking schedule:

September, 2019

24-25 Nobel Conference on Climate Changed, St. Peter, MN

29 – Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Baxter, MN

October, 2019

6 – Grace Lutheran Church, Albert Lea, MN

7 – Thorncrest Senior Center, Albert Lea, MN

12 – IHP Board Meeting, Newton, IA

13 – First Lutheran Church, Newton, IA

20 – St. John’s Lutheran Church 

27 – Looney Valley Lutheran Church, Houston, MN

28-29-30 – Family Practice Reviews, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

November, 2019

1 – Family dinner in Minneapolis, MN

3 – North Presbyterian Church, La Crosse, WI

10 – Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Ft. Collins, CO

17 – Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Sandy, UT

24 – Reception hosted by Dr. Richey and Louise Bown, Salt Lake City, UT

December, 2019

– OPEN – Return to Overland Park, KS

8 – OPEN

15 – OPEN

21 – Drive to Phoenix, AZ

22 –OPEN

25 – Christmas with kids and grandkids, Phoenix, AZ

29 – OPEN

January, 2020

5 – Proposed – Simi Valley, CA?

12 – Proposed – Moraga, CA?

13 – Kiwanis Club, Oakland, CA

19 – OPEN

26 – Immanuel Lutheran, Vancouver, WA

February, 2020 (All flexible)

2 – Proposed – Maui ?

9 – Proposed – Anchorage, AL? or stay in Hawaii?  

16 – Proposed, Lynnwood, WA?

23 -  Proposed, Coeur D’Alene, ID?

March, 2020 (Flexible)

1 – 

8 – 

15 – 

The doors are being hung in the birthing center.  Now, the "sanitaries..."


Paula Lofstrom Managing Director International Health Partners, US & TZ

Pray, believing Act on your faith and go forward. God is always with you. Love is always the answer.

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