Published Thursday 10th November 2016

On the face of it, there doesn’t appear to be many links between Herefordshire and the rural region of Muheza, near Tanzania’s coast in eastern Africa.

But these two areas have been brought closer together thanks to a visit from Edgar D Ngelangela who has spent five weeks with St Michael’s Hospice.

Edgar is a Hospice administrator and social worker at Muheza Hospice Care, a place which has had links to the county for some time thanks to the work of Hospice volunteer, Dr Karilyn Collins, who founded Muheza Hospice Care around 15 years ago.

Edgar says the trip – his first time in the UK – was extremely rewarding and worthwhile, with him picking up ideas about how his Hospice can raise the £4,000 it needs each month.

‘The model of service provided is the same in Tanzania as it is here,’ said Edgar.

‘But it’s a higher quality here at St Michael’s, with great resources.

‘The resources are the big difference between here and back home.

‘In Tanzania, some don’t know where to get the care they need. Others don’t even know what palliative care is.’

Muheza is a tiny community north of the Tanzanian capital, Dar-es-Salaam, and close to the Kenyan border.

Its Hospice was the first in the country and offers a Day Hospice, Mother’s Club for mums who are HIV positive, and support to staff at the adjacent hospital.

‘We also have a kids club with about 400 children,’ added Edgar.

‘It is children with HIV, those who are orphans, or those with psychological issues.’

But thanks to the education his team is providing, and their encouragement to take their medication at the right time, children who were born HIV positive are beginning to have healthy, HIV-free children.

Edgar studied in Dar-es-Salaam, training as a teacher in economics before going into work as a social worker and administrator.

While in Hereford, he stayed with St Michael’s Hospice social worker, Mary Taylor.

‘It was great having Edgar and his colleague William (whose placement was in the finance department at Hereford County Hospital) to stay, and I especially enjoyed Edgar’s and my talks in the car on the way into the Hospice,’ she said.

‘We talked about his wife, 13-year-old son, and twin boy and girl aged 7, and how it was difficult for him to afford presents for them.’

Mary said Edgar and William were surprised at the amount of waste they saw here.

‘My husband and I bought them fish and chips one evening and I think they – and we – were shocked at the portion of chips allocated to each of us,’ said Mary.

During his five-week stay at St Michael’s Hospice, Edgar spent time with every department possible, including occupational therapy, counselling, spiritual care, the Inpatient Ward, Day Hospice, social workers, volunteers, fundraising and visits to the retail shops.

‘He spent time with patients and also family members of all ages who are being supported in their bereavement,’ said Mary.

‘He was very interested in our bereavement work here and plans to adapt our models in Muhaza.

‘Everyone was interested in him and his work as a social worker in Muheza and the different ways of working.

‘Before he went he asked me to give ‘great thanks’ to everyone he met, and I would like to give ‘great thanks’ to him and all we learned from him.’