Matema Lutheran Hospital is situated right next to the shore of the Nyasa lake and is offering a small resort with a main complex and breakfast room, patio and a few huts - African style – made of wood, bricks and bamboo, including sanitary area. That is where we were accomodated. Now only a few meters over the sandy beach and you are standing in the warm waters of the third largest African lake after Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria. Swimming before breakfast and after work belong to my fondest memories. Especially when the water supply was cut off again.
Matema Lutheran Hospital has 90 beds and is as a matter of fact one of the very few  medical institutions for about 100.000 people in Southern Tanzania.
Unfortunately there is lack of support by the state, so there are always big challenges to be met because of shortage of personal and financial resources.
Without sponsoring by Berliner Missionswerk and other supporters the hospital could hardly survive.
The guiding spirit of Mathema Lutheran Hospital is German gynecologist Dr. Heinke Schimanowski-Thomsen.
It seems to me that she kept alive the hospital by sheer willpower and stubbornness.
She did not avoid any conflict with authorities and decision makers on regional and district levels or even within the church to reach her objects.
Nowadays things are improving little by little. There is a head physician, Dr. Chris Mwasongela, some doctors and at least (barely) adequate nursing staff.
The equipment in the operating theater and the state of the anesthesia machine (an age old penlon system with halothane vaporizer) and monitoring is deplorable.*
In spite of many limitations it was possible to perform even complicated operations, e.g. a groin-flap to temporarily cover a traumatically amputated index finger.
As the team has already planned a further mission to Matema Lutheran Hospital in October/November 2014, an improved organisation, a better pre-selection of patients and improved working conditions will hopefully ensure streamlining the process.
* So much the better that, thanks to a generous donation in kind by Isarkliniken GmbH, Munich, an indestructible Sulla 808, a multi-function monitor, an external defibrillator and a combi-syringe pump are already on their way to Tanzania to remedy the situation.
In October/November an INTERPLAST team consisting of plastic surgeon Dr. Andreas Schmidt, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Hannes Schmidt, general practitioner Dr. Irene Epple-Waigel, Op nurse Kerstin Neidow and anesthetist Dr. Klaus Huslik worked for more than 2 weeks in Matema Lutheran Hospital.