Out of Africa


Africa is aqua jogging and Dr. Denny Lofstrom, M.D. and his wife Paula Lofstrom, L.P.N. have found their fountain of youth, or at least their rejuvenation site. The small pool, located in the back of their home in Nyakato, Tanzania, provides them the opportunity to leave all their cares in the water. Each uses the pool for a different reason.

Dr. Lofstrom finds that his serving as Vice President and Chief Operations Officer for a Tanzanian hospital construction project, fund-raising for such a venture, and over-seeing volunteer medical teams can be exhausting work. Add to that a couple of collapsed vertebrae stabilized with rods, pins and screws and one has the recipe for a throbbing headache and a heavy heart. A water exercise program helps him cope.

Each day Dr. Lofstrom faces the challenge of serving as the Medical Officer in charge of a twenty-two building complex for which he had the vision and designed each structure. He suffers from painful lower and upper back problems. His upper back is compromised with scoliosis bending like a “C”, and kyphosis, bending forwards from a neck injury suffered from a diving accident while still in college. Being able to exercise each day with the AquaJogger Traveler keeps Dr. Lofstrom in good cardiac health without stressing the injuries in his back and maintains good range of motion for his other joints. The aches and pains of his eighty-two-year-old body are alleviated by a daily dip in his make-shift pool.

His wife, Paula, (no age-telling data here!) who is administrative assistant and chief cook, is concerned with weight watching and energy sustainability. She does an aerobic workout daily and likewise maintains good muscle tone and range of motion. Both have found their sessions in the water a blessing.

Their active lives have always been focused on health. While attending a Missions Conference in Moline, Illinois in the early 1940s, Denny Lofstrom, M.D. decided, at age thirteen, to become a medical missionary. After receiving his degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and a three-year stint in Family Practice in Pine River, MN., he headed to Tanzania, where he served as Doctor-in-Charge of Kiomboi Hospital for four years (1958-1962). He returned to the United States, took a residency in Pathology at the University of MN., and then subsequently opened his own pathology lab in Brainerd, MN. and labored there for ten years. Further medical positions included work in cardiopulmonary medicine with the V.A. system and Emergency Medicine.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Dr. Lofstrom and Paula, a Licensed Practical Nurse, made ten trips to Guatemala doing mission medicine with HELPS, International.

The dawn of the twenty-first century promised retirement, but another summons appeared on the horizon. In 2001 they got a call from Mary Ellen Kitundu asking them to go to Iambi Hospital in Tanzania to do a ten-week assessment. Denny and his wife fell in love — not with the glamour of Africa’s game parks and safaris — but with the warmth of the native people, who were fighting such odds of desperation. So many in need of so much! They wrote a Five Year Development Plan and were asked to implement and finance it.

After four years of fund-raising and overseeing building construction, they were asked by several bishops to bring their know-how and resources to the many, many other needy people in the rest of Tanzania. And thus they found themselves again attempting to solicit medical and financial help for another hospital venture in Nyakato, located at the southern tip of Lake Victoria. The area they administer contains about 186,000 people.

The demands of such a chosen profession are extreme. Yet both Denny and Paula have found relief, renewal, and rejuvenation in the forgiving environment of water suspension, aided by an AquaJogger. Could the same activity help you?

For more information on their project, contact:

Paula Lofstrom, LPN

Administrative Coordinator

International Health Partners US & TZ

Nyakato, Tanzania

[email protected]