top of page

October 2019 Update from IHP

Charles Powell writing:

The annual board meeting of International Health Partners - US has come and gone.  It was a highly productive meeting and we welcomed new board members, Ron and Jan Overmyer.  They have been to Zinga twice, and each brings unique skills that will be of great benefit to the organization. We also welcomed Mary Pace who has returned to Zinga annually for the past decade.

I remain exhilarated at the prospect of the Mary Ellen Kitundu Memorial Birthing Center opening soon.  We have many “nuts and bolts” decisions to make regarding staffing, training, equipping, and opening the facility.  It can seem overwhelming, but I trust that God has not brought us this far to let us down.  He has shown His providence in unexpected and wonderful ways, and I trust that we will continue to see His miracles and guidance.

Nonetheless, my true excitement is over the opening of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  We will be able to provide a level of care that is unparalleled, but there is much hard work to be done.  The true challenge is not in the care we will offer; it is the training we will provide.  We will need to train a core staff, but more importantly, we will need to train doctors, nurses, and ancillary staff that will go out to other places and train others.

Beyond that, we hope that pediatric services will open very soon.  We are quite fortunate to have Jesse Kitundu, MD and Lynne Powell, MD as our core pediatric staff.  Dr. Kitundu, who trained in Poland and is also the premier pediatrician in Tanzania, has taught Tanzanian doctors pediatric skills for decades.  Dr. Lynne Powell is a practicing pediatric hospitalist who has taught several generations of medical students and residents over her career.  Again, our goal is to train and send out quality doctors and support personnel who in turn teach others.

There are wonderful things to come in Zinga.

Charles W. Powell, MD

President, International Health Partners - US

Dr. Jesse Kitundu writing:

Dear Friends of Mothers and Children of Tanzania.

This is a quiet month here when Denny and Paula are not here, at the same time there are no more volunteers. Some of the activities slow down in their absence and will pick up again when they return in the following year.  You are very much welcomed again for those who already have been here and for those who wish to visit us for the first time. 

Two days ago, we received another container still at the port of Dar es Salaam.  We expect to clear it in a few days. The construction team has completed the preparation of footings for the permanent placement of the container. Thank you to our dear friends in Canada, Lindsay Brucks, and Eunice Famme.  

As you well know, we are looking forward to completing the Mary Ellen Kitundu Memorial Birthing Center as soon as the water reclamation system is ready. More is still needed, i.e. the window grills for outside windows, sinks, water taps, and some furniture. We thank you very much for the beds and doors that have already been installed.

 The neonatal intensive care unit building (NICU) is in progress. The supporting equipment. is needed like Incubators, radiant baby warmers, beds for the mothers in the kangaroo care room, and baby cots.

The progress in building the birthing center and NICU building has been amazing, and this has been made possible from the donations you have given. We thank you. Please, we hope you will continue supporting this project that has. come so far.

Finally, we thank the medical students and residents who have participated in helping to create the image of The Children’s Hospital at Zinga as a center of excellence, where patient care is primary and given in a professional, compassionate environment. I thank also their institutions that are interested in knowing the progress of their students as we continue working together. 

We invite more students to come to join us in continuing to increase the quality of care offered to those we serve.

Asanteni Sana, and Karibuni Tena. (Thanks to all of you and you are all welcome to return.)

Jesse Kitundu, MD



Dr. Bon Mazezele writing:

For October 2019, Zinga outpatient clinic has been attending cases. One interesting case was a 30-year-old man from a nearby community who came with symptoms of cerebral malaria. The rapid test for malaria was strongly positive.  Then we confirmed by blood slide. This gentleman was very seriously carrying lots of malaria parasites and treated with artesunate injections for 5 days.  In 7 days, he’ll return for follow-up and another blood slide.  

Last week the Hospital Management Team had a meeting to elect leaders.  We formed a quality improvement team. The objectives, roles, and responsibilities were explained clearly to every member for an overall for the hospital projection for budgeting and improving the service to the maximum level.  Our goal is to further the reputation of The Children’s Hospital at Zinga as a center of excellence and the best care possible for each and every patient and for their families.  


Also, this team will plan and formulate ways to increase hospital income.

It will be having regular meetings for evaluation 

Wishing you all the Best,

Dr.  Bon

Den and Paula Lofstrom writing:

We’ve been back in the U.S. a little over a month.  It’s been a busy, wonderful time, almost dizzying in the number of places we’ve been, people we’ve seen, and the wonders God has managed – coincidences abound, that has to be God’s guiding hand.  Thank you, God.

On Sept. 22nd we were hosted by St. John’s Lutheran Church in Reinbeck, IA and stayed with our old friends Ginny and Gary Poppen.  Ginny was the matron of honor at our wedding, 26 years ago.  Then Denny and I attended the Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College on 'Climate Changed.'  We stayed with Joel and Sue Jackson; Joel is a missionary kid from Tanzania.  Next, we presented at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Baxter, MN and stayed with friends from when we did many Guatemala missions together, Mike and Sharon Manion.  Sharon also came to Iambi Hospital in Tanzania with a medical team many years ago.  Pr. Steve Rye and Pr. Erika Nilsen were very encouraging and excited about the team from Lord of Life that is coming to Zinga in June of 2020.

On Oct. 6th we again stayed with Pr. Todd Walsh and Charlotte, his adoring pit pet.  At Grace Lutheran Church, Pastors Shane Koepke and Pr. Jennifer Gonsalves were the cheerleaders for the team from Grace that is coming out to The Children’s Hospital at Zinga in September 2020.  On the 7th we presented again at Thorn Crest, a gorgeous senior home in Albert Lea.   

On Oct. 12th we had the annual board meeting for IHP with Charles Powell presiding.  He has already told you about that.  Then on the 13th, we presented at First Lutheran Church in Newton, Iowa as we traditionally do the Sunday after our board meeting.  Pr. Mark Holmes, always with hugs and smiles, welcomed us again.  IHP’s vice-president Marie Quanbeck and her husband Duane fed us and let made us comfortable, as always, in their home.

A quick trip over to La Porte, IN to pick up several suitcases of “store stuff” yielded a stay with Lilly Ake who visited Zinga this year, and a presentation to friends of Lynda Sardeson.  

On Oct. 20th we were delighted with the opportunity to present at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Rock Island, IL.  Pr. Stacie Fidlar’s church shares its church grounds with the neighborhood people and invites them to have gardens.  On Sunday afternoon they come to the church social hall for “Café Mundo” to cook up and sell what they’d grown. Many nearby residents are refugees from East Africa’s problems in Congo and Burundi and some have spent years in refugee camps in Tanzania.  In the afternoon there were folks serving fabulous Mexican food and the Africans prepared foods that Denny and I are used to in Tanzania.  It was a lovely afternoon and our sales of African curios were brisk.  Our friend Nancy Califf again hosted us in Rock Island.

Now we’re in Rochester, Minn.  We have had our checkups at Mayo Clinic and were pronounced each to be very young for our ages of 77 and 91.  No medical issues and we’re “good to go” and keep doing the work we’re honored by God to have been chosen to do.  Art Larson has again opened her home to us where we can spread out all over the lower floor to keep up with IHP work. Art and her three teen-aged grandchildren came to Zinga a year and a half ago and we all went camping together in Ruaha National Park. 


Thank you to all who have hosted us.  You’re just amazing people to put up with the huge “footprint” we make when we set up our office, kitchen stuff, and bedroom clutter in your homes.

When the birthing center opens, we will have to go from 2 shifts to 3 shifts per day, and, as Charles noted, we’ll be hiring significantly more staff.  While they are being trained, there will be a lot more people to pay and no more income coming in yet to cover that.  

Additionally, reimbursement from the government insurance plan will not be instant, just like Medicare reimbursement here, it may take a few months.  So, there will be a cash-flow challenge for 3-4 months.  If we don’t prepare for this, the whole program could collapse.  

Each department head at Zinga is reviewing what his or her department will need for additional staffing.  Then we’ll figure out what those additional salaries will add up to.  Then we’ll add in the additional overhead, electrical and water, etc., we’ll need.  There will be more laundry, more hot water used.  Each laboring mother will have the opportunity to run warm water over her abdomen in the shower during labor.  This has been shown to reduce labor pains by 50-60% in most women, but it will create a huge water reclamation need as well as use a LOT of hot water.  We’d like to put in solar heating for that purpose.  When we get these numbers projected, we’ll share them with you to help us manage this coming cash-flow challenge. 

To help keep the services improving at The Children’s Hospital at Zinga, and to help prepare for the future, please consider a financial donation to:

International Health Partners, U.S., Inc.

Matt West, Treasurer

8016 North Everton Ave.

Kansas City, MO 64152


Go to our website, and click on “Donate.”


Call Matt at 816-985-4406 and he can put your gift on your credit card.

Please remember, IHP is a 501 c 3 non-profit corporation and your donation is deductible.

Now, please see our speaking schedule below to see if there are any gaps you can fill in when we’re in your area.

Blessings and gratitude,

Paula and Denny

My name is Alexander Holdt, and I’m an actor from Los Angeles.  I came to Tanzania with my parents, Dr. David Holdt and Sylvera Holdt. I have no medical training, but Paula put me to work with projects like painting the window grills of the new house, helping unload the shipping container full of medical supplies, and working on the new birthing center. 

I spent my free time studying Swahili and getting to know the dedicated people who work at the clinic. I wish I had learned more Swahili before I arrived, but it was never a problem; many people speak English, and everyone I talked to was very accommodating and eager to help with learning Swahili. Coming to a place where people live so differently is intimidating because you don’t always know how well you’ll be able to connect.  Making even a small effort to learn their language and culture goes a long way.

The people here are amazing and while there are many challenges to overcome, they have a strong spirit and a drive to improve their world, and they genuinely appreciate the support from around the world. If you have the opportunity to come out here, I would urge you to do so. If you come here to expand your view of the world you will leave feeling like you made a difference, no matter how large or small. If you come out here with a drive to help others, you’ll find that you’ve helped yourself at the same time. This was my first visit to Tanzania and to Africa, so I was excited but also unsure of how I would adjust. Fortunately, the Lofstrom’s have created a place that feels comfortable and secure, but not so removed from the everyday life of the Tanzanians that you feel too spoiled. With the friendly and diligent Maasai guards looking out for us, and with Paula and her excellent team (Mama Lucy, Miss Vicky, Mrs. Bon, and others) taking great care to provide healthy food (which also tastes amazing), clean water and other necessities, I felt right at home. 

My new rafiki (friend) William is an excellent driver and a great example of Tanzanian friendliness. Another example is Kulwa, the radiologist, who shared a meal with me the first week I was here. Tanzanians may not have a lot of money, but they have a great wealth of spirit and generosity to share what they do have. 

Being here was kind of like summer camp but more worthwhile. It gave me a fresh perspective on a lot of things we take for granted at home. For example, the WiFi doesn’t always work so well, but it inspired us to take in the world and have the kind of face-to-face conversations we often neglect back home. I learned a lot about the people around me, my parents, and even myself.  

Even more rewarding was being part of something much bigger than myself. I wish there was more I could do while I was here—it never feels like enough—but this project is a group effort and everyone who comes here, whether they bring medical expertise or just a willingness to help, will come away feeling more inspired to make a positive difference in the world.

20 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page