Our History

Our History

Established in 2011, the Haydom Friends Foundation provides medical care for children with Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus at the Haydom Lutheran Hospital in Tanzania. Built in the 1960s, the hospital now has a 400 bed capacity and treats up to 2000 inpatients annually. The medical care for the youngest patients is severely limited due to limited resources and a lack of specialized medical staff.

In 2009, Haydom Friends founder Dr. Theresa Harbauer came to Tanzania for the first time, as part of a two-year clinical residency at Haydom Hospital. At the children’s ward she worked closely with the nursing staff, and it quickly became apparent that improved medical care as well as effective follow-up was necessary to ensure the children’s survival.

Together with the local nurses, Dr. Harbauer created a program focussed on four cornerstones that are essential to effective medical care: provide continuous training to the pediatric staff; improve the hospital’s infrastructure and medical equipment; provide regular medical follow-up and pediatric aftercare to the young patients; and importantly, offer fully-funded learning opportunities for parents of affected children, where they gain crucial skills in continence management.

Since 2013, the Haydom Friends Foundation has organized and sponsored bi-annual Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Parents Seminars at Haydom Hospital. The program started with eight families in its inaugural year. As of 2020 it has grown to support over 80 families. The number of admitted patients is steadily rising as community awareness about treatment options grows. Haydom Friends is now actively engaged in the project to expand Haydom’s capacity by building a House of Hope that will be dedicated to aftercare and mobility training.

First Trip to Haydom

8.01.2009

Theresa leaves her home in Germany to bring medical help and new hope to the youngest patients in one of the most rural and poorest regions of Tanzania.

Equipment for Africa

7.09.2011

Equipment for Africa
Haydom Friends begins to fundraise for medical equipment to improve Haydom-Lutheran Hospital’s capacity.

The Container Arrives

1.04.2012

The Container Arrives
After a long journey, the donated medical equipment finally arrives at Haydom Lutheran Hospital. A container worth of new monitors, ventilators, and surgical equipment finds a new home at the pediatric department.

First Parent Seminar

13.07.2013

First Parent Seminar
For the very first time, a follow-up week for families and children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus is taking place at the Haydom Lutheran Hospital. We are happy to welcome the first eight children that had surgery in Haydom. We have trained parents in in continence management and examined all children.

Crisis Situation in Haydom

13.01.2014

Crisis Situation in Haydom
…the team struggled … there was resistancy … There was missing support and missing funds, doctors have left Haydom for further training. But nevertheless the left back team kept on fighting and believing in the success of the program and believing in the children. They have managed to continue caring for Haydoms children with disabilities. With the return of Haydoms surgeon and another pediatrician the program regained strength and additional manpower to meet the needs of the growing number of children.

Expansion of the Program

11.04.2015

Expansion of the Program
With Dr. Nuwas as the new hospital director in Haydom and with the support of surgeon Dr. Hayte and the pediatrician Dr. Joshua, who had returned to Haydom, the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Project started a new chapter and the team received the energetic support it needed. It significantly expanded its capacity to ensure the care of a larger number of patients. And the number of children operated on and cared for grew steadily!

Help For Emanuel Sebastiano

2.07.2015

Help For Emanuel Sebastiano
Haydom Friends collects donations for the 11 year old Emanuel Sebastiano from the village of Haydom. The boy has a life-threatening brain tumor that urgently needs to be removed. The parents cannot afford the treatment costs, but thanks to an overwhelming willingness to donate in response to an emergency call from Haydom Friends, Emanuel can be treated and survived.

Hydrocephalus Clinic and Parents Seminar

7.12.2015

Hydrocephalus Clinic and Parents Seminar
For this Parent’s Week, Lena Ward opens its doors to 35 children with hydrocephalus and spina bifida. The Haydom team Dr. Axwesso and Dr. Joshua (pediatricians), Hendry (physiotherapist), Dr. Hayte (surgeon), Suleman (anesthesiologist) and nurses Nuru and Sabrina. Together with Dr. Catherine (Tansan pediatric surgeon) and her team from New Seliani Hospital, Theresa and the team conduct child examinations and lectures and teach parents in continence management, while Dr. Catherine and Dr. Hayte tirelessly perform operations for each child in need.

ISMS Mission to Mchukwi

27.05.2016

ISMS Mission to Mchukwi
Theresa Harbauer joins Operation International on a mission to a remote hospital in Mchukwi in Southern Tanzania. As a pediatrician she works with the team to bring necessary surgical and medical equipment, as well as surgical care to a number of patients who would otherwise not have access to such services. At Mchukwi, Theresa is able to train local doctors to insert life-saving shunts, and provides care to the youngest patients, who are sometimes just a few days old.

Child-Help Partners with Haydom Friends

19.04.2017

Child-Help Partners with Haydom Friends
With Pierre Mertens, Chairman of Child-Help International, Haydom-Friends has gained an important partner in the program. With the support of Child-Help, Haydom will receive shunts, catheters and other essential materials necessary for the continuation of continence management and life-saving surgeries for children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

Continence and aftercare week

12.05.2018

Continence and aftercare week
Another continence and aftercare week for children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus takes place in Haydom. Theresa Harbauer travels to Haydom with specialists from Germany, a neurosurgeon and a pediatrician from Belgium. Together with the team, they examine the children and take care of the vital aftercare. The project video and a first teaching video for parents and staff are made. More than 40 kids participated.

Course in cranial ultrasound

16.11.2018

Course in cranial ultrasound
Dr. Theresa Harbauer travels to Dar es Salaam to teach nurses and doctors from Tansania, Kenia and Uganda in continence management and the care of children with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. While she was there she gave a course in cranial ultrasound to the young doctors.

Wheelchairs for children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus

6.12.2018

Wheelchairs for children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus
In a large-scale Christmas donation campaign, Haydom-Friends e.V. managed to collect donations for 20 locally made wheelchairs. Just in time for Christmas, 20 children are given new wheelchairs. With the Rollies, kids can now actively participate in everyday life and also go to school. The foundation has been made to a new mobility chapter of the aftercare program.

Training week for parents and their children

9.05.2019

Training week for parents and their children
Another training week for parents and their children with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. Franziska Ott, pediatric nurse from Hanover and urotherapist came along this time. A big success is achieved with the use of catheter and a new drug called oxybutynin. Most of the children are dry.

World Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Day

25.10.2019

World Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Day
For the first time ever, parents and their children with Spina Bifida, accompanied by more than 150 students, doctors, nurses and staff, are marching on Haydom’s streets on the occasion of World Spina Day for more education and acceptance of their children as well as against prejudice and exclusion in public. Dr. Theresa Harbauer accompanies parents, children and their team. Broadcast on the East African evening news, this is another historic milestone in education and integration for children with physical disabilities.

One team, one dream, a world record

28.01.2020

One team, one dream, a world record
Big charity hike to the top of the second highest mountain in Tanzania for the construction of the House of Hope. Together with the Haydoms team, 20 fearless adventurers from Sweden, Germany and Tanzania climb the 4,600 m high Mt Meru. The spectacular highlight of the hike is Ina Akerberg’s and Santos Chuwa summit. Both (born with Spina Bifida) set a world record, because never before has anyone in a wheelchair conquered the summit of the small Mt. Meru Peak (3800 m).