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Remembering Annah Kichambati

We have sad news to share, in particular to those of you who have had the pleasure of working in Tanzania. We recently learned that Annah Kichambati, Grounds for Health Program Coordinator during our time in Tanzania, has passed away. Annah was an important member of our team, remembered for her deep commitment to our communities and her determination to reach every woman she could find who needed services.

Here are just a few stories shared by Grounds for Health staff and volunteers who worked with Annah in the past:

What an honor it was to experience Annah working her magic at the community level.

She was our essential guide, friend, mentor and cultural broker as we learned the ropes in Kigoma in 2009. I’ll never forget finally getting up the nerve to ask Annah’s permission to wear kitenge.  “How do you feel about wazungu wearing kitenge,” and she quickly responded–“I LOVE IT.  Let us go to the market sasa hivi (right now) and I will bring you to my tailor.” I still wear those very same shirts and think of Annah.

Elisa Vandervort
Grounds for Health Staff (2009-2012)
Clinical Consultant (current)

I have so many memories of Annah and our days in Kigoma! I remember her standing between the two groups of women who were facing off with increasing tension about which group was going to be screened on a day that was over-booked. Annah was in the middle of it all. She was the ultimate community conduit. She was overwhelmingly committed to getting women care and I learned so much from her.

She was a wise woman and will be sorely missed.

Susan Hollinger
Longtime volunteer
Clinical Consultant (current)

My favorite memory of Anna, which I often recount, as it was so profoundly moving, was when we were first launching Heri and we had a low turnout on the first day of the campaign. Anna and I decided to drive to the communities to spread the word about the program. In one village, just as we arrived, there was a large meeting of a coffee cooperative. We entered the relatively large dark, mud building and, seated on the floor, shoulder to shoulder were about 200 men. In front of the room was a raised dais and we were invited up and seated with the co-op officials. Anna spoke to the leader first and stated our purpose and was given the floor. She took a step forward and began ululating in her strong, amazing voice. She stopped and the men replied with three words in their deepest bass voices. I felt the power of their voices in my whole body. Anna then repeated her call and they repeated their response another four or five times. I was so deeply moved. Then Anna stepped back to me and invited me to address the gathering, which I did as she simultaneously translated. The next day it seemed like hundreds of women arrived, many walking the eight or so miles accompanied by their husbands. The entire rest of the campaign was a great success (in its own often wild and chaotic way).

August Burns
Grounds for Health Executive Director (2004-2014)

Annah was definitely a force! I will always remember the trip during which we piloted the Community Health Worker training. That was a trip—like most them—full of laughter, frustration, energy, music, dancing, food and the power of amazing women!

Her spirit will live on!

Rebecca Singer
Grounds for Health Staff (2011-2014)

Yes … we will miss you, Annah! You will always be remembered with so many delightful stories showing your dedication to Grounds for Health and the women you served.

Our heartfelt thoughts and condolences go out to Annah’s family, friends and community.

Thank you to those who shared their stories. If you have your own or would like to extend your condolences, please post them below in the comments.

Sincerely,

Ellen Starr
Grounds for Health Executive Director


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