In 2007, nurse Liz Peck and her husband made the decision to move 7050 miles away from their home in Boston. Their destination: Mwanza, Tanzania. Mwanza is a rural region on the southern shores of Lake Victoria. The Peck’s two small children, two-year-old Bridgit and four-month-old Jack, also crossed three continents to reach Tanzania.
As Touch Foundation volunteers, the Peck’s accepted a three-year post to begin volunteering at the Bugando Medical Centre (BMC). Liz Peck, a family nurse practitioner, volunteers at BMC, a hospital with 900 beds which serves over 15 million Tanzanians.
Tanzania is one of the nations facing the worst health worker shortage in the world and the health statistics in Tanzania are absolutely horrifying.
• One in nine children will die before their fifth birthday
• There are over 2.6 million orphans due to HIV/AIDS and other causes
• Tanzania has one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in the world; one doctor for every 30,000 people
• The maternal mortality rate is nearly 70 percent higher than in neighboring Kenya
• For every 100,000 births, 950 mothers in Tanzania will die, compared to the 11 mothers in the U.S.
These stifling numbers create a massive burden on Tanzania’s healthcare system.
Volunteer nurses, like Peck, make a difference by teaching and educating Tanzanian health care workers.
Peck has abundant compassion for children. Peck volunteers at a local orphanage a few hours each month and offers care to more than 40 young children.
Peck has been raising her family in conditions much different than most Americans. The Peck family experiences frequent power outages and unreliable water supplies. Because of their environment, the Peck children have become bilingual (learning both Kiswahili-the national language of Tanzania-and English).
Like her husband, Peck has been very interested in medical work in Africa since a young age. While her husband was at medical school at Vanderbilt (the couple met as undergraduates), Peck completed her Masters in Nursing at Vanderbilt and spent two years working in primary care in Nashville.