Gardening and Exercise Despite Osteoarthritis: Back to Tanzania

Pattye Snyder Health Guide October 29, 2012
  • The early morning clouds are slowly lifting and it's becoming a very hot sunny day. The large, raucous nunbirds are screaming overhead as they hunt for their next meal, and tiny songbirds in nearby trees trill their songs. A soft cool breeze wafts over me as I try to write, making it difficult to stay awake and concentrate. Yes, I'm back in my part-time home in East Africa, surrounded by many friends who have become my adopted family over my years of volunteer work (as well as my photography) here.  I know that I'll meet many new friends from all over the world as they, too, accept the challenges of helping to make a better life for the natives here, and I'll have many intriguing stories to share back in the U.S.

     

    As an osteoarthritis patient (who also, unfortunately, has rheumatoid arthritis), the low humidity days really help lower my pain levels and the heat also helps my joints.  Of course, we often have somewhat brutal temperatures with little relief in sight. Additional challenges are our frequent electricity outages as well as occasional "bonuses" of no water either!  Because of my mobility problems, our rutted rocky roads and paths produce additional  problems for me, making normal transport (that of walking) somewhat impossible  If I'm unable to contact one of my taxi drivers, I'm somewhat of a captive for the day! The most popular and inexpensive form of local transport, other than walking, is the dala dala -- a rather creative, abstract, and somewhat dangerous small, rickety bus which is always overcrowded, noisy and seldom in good repair. I survived one dala dala ride a few years ago and don't wish to tempt fate by trying again!

     

    Although in the U.S., gardening is completed for the season, I love the awesome soil and fertilizer readily available here to plant most anything at any time of year in spite of the heat. Our head gardener and I have formed a very productive team and I'm able to share hints for gardening from America.  Yes, I also join in much of the actual planting, pruning, etc. which can be great exercise for me.  In spite of the weather, (no rain) we have awesome new crops of wax beans, green beans, courgettes and much more.  We have cabbage, sweet potatoes and a massive crop of sweet basil which we are selling to local dukas (tiny shops).

     

    Amani, the gardener, delivered six loads of fertilizer the other day to augment our gardens.  Much to my horror, immense grubworms started emerging from the load.  When I explained why we had to get rid of them, he dug them all out and "served" them to our VERY happy chickens!  My English classes I'm teaching to the Mamas from the Bush began two weeks ago and my new students are very excited because they've never had any schooling before. To add to the curriculum, I'm also adding a small daily exercise program to help them with their arthritis - a true bonus for all!

     

    I know I'm where I want to be; I know that I'm making a positive difference in many people's lives!

    asante sana

    Mama P (pattye)