Off to Tanzania with a ring
A former Marlborough Girls' College student leaves for Tanzania today with goodwill wishes from many people in Marlborough.
Clare Gwynne, an Otago University graduate, was surprised when people in Blenheim and Picton contacted her and shared their own experiences in Tanzania after her story appeared in the Saturday Express last year.
She was offered language books to help her learn swahili, given the words and music of swahili songs and asked questions about the health service in Tanzania she is being employed for two years to promote.
Yesterday, Ms Gwynne was at her parents' home in Blenheim, pushing clothing and various incidentals into a tall pack.
Items included sandals, shirts with sleeves, skirts with hems below the knee, Marmite and safe medication.
"Take your own pills" and "dress discreetly" were among the tips she received, she said.
She holds bachelor degrees in management and the arts and will work as the personal assistant and press secretary for Krishnamurthy Venkateswaran, chief executive of the Sanitas Medics and Diagnostics Centre in Dar Es Salaam.
Mr Venkateswaran wants to set up other affordable medical centres around Africa and has employed Ms Gwynne to help raise international awareness and financial support.
A young man from Seddon said his medical student friend, born in Tanzania, might be a future recruit.
And a physiotherapist who Ms Gwynne's boyfriend sees expressed interest in signing up for a six-month stint in Africa.
Her boyfriend is training to be a New Zealand Army officer, but plans to visit Tanzania in September, she said.
They are not engaged.
But sparkling new stones on Ms Gwynne's left-hand ring finger will suggest they are.
"When you are over 20 [Tanzanians] can't understand why you are not married," one of her advisers had told Ms Gwynne.
A ring on the right finger, she learned, will discourage many men in Tanzania from asking her to marry them.
The Marlborough Express