World Cancer Day in Tanzania

Posted by On February 10, 2017

The 1st place student team from Ethiopia and the professional team from Italy with Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon CEO, Celina Schocken


By Celina Schocken, Chief Executive Officer of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon. . .

Tanzania kicked off its World Cancer Day celebration with a rigorous round of calisthenics and a brisk walk through downtown. Neither the searing heat nor a sudden downpour dampened the enthusiasm of scores of participants as a military marching band led us through the streets.

The highlight of the 4 February morning event, at the Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) was the announcement of winners of the global Hostels for Hope design competition. The competition, launched last April, encouraged both student and professional architects to think creatively about how to provide homes away from home for Tanzanian women who travel long distances to receive cancer treatment. With only two hospitals in the entire country – Ocean Road and Bugando Medical Centre in Mwanza – offering some critical services, women must travel far from home and for long periods of time. Developing affordable, safe housing for them is critical to the success of their life-saving treatment. Cervical and breast cancer are responsible for more than half the cancer deaths in Tanzania.

It was an honor for me to present the two first-place winning teams with their prizes on World Cancer Day, alongside the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health. The first place winners in the professional category were from Masa Studio in Rome, Italy—led by Emanuele Santini—and their design for a wellness hostel will be built outside Bugando Medical Center. The first place winners in the student category were Akrem Abdurahim, Emaelaf Tebikew and Henok Yared from the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development. Their design for a hostel will be built at ORCI. Second and third place winners in the student and professional categories hail from Moscow, Marrakech, Dar es Salaam, and Santa Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

These Hostels for Hope offer a serene refuge for women undergoing grueling cancer treatments, and we are all eager to see them go from design to reality. Medical staff and cancer survivors alike at the event expressed a desire to see this happen quickly, and we are actively working on securing partners and funding.

I also would like to express my sincere thanks to the George W. Bush Institute, HKS, Inc., Southern Methodist University (SMU), and T-MARC Tanzania, and to the American Cancer Society for sponsoring the competition.  I am so excited to see the buildings go up, knowing that more women will be willing to seek treatment once they are finished. Saving the lives of these mothers, daughters, sisters and wives will go a long way toward building stronger families, communities and a nation.