Kibosho Hospital: Return to Gothic Wonderland – First Days

Last Friday, we left TCDC in Arusha and travelled to Kibosho Catholic Hospital, a small hospital located in a village about an hour outside Moshi on the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Kibosho is pretty much a hospital, a nursing school, and a high school. They also have a church that reminds a lot of the chapel at Duke.  

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Kibosho Catholic Church

Tomi, a fundi (technician), is going to be our kiazi kubwa, big boss (literally big potato) for the next month. Tomi is a funny man. He typically wears a hat from Germany and clothes from Germany. In the words of Daria, Tomi is an American, and after spending a few days with him I can understand why. Tomi likes reggae music and is really interested in the western world. He’s probably the only Tanzanian I’ve met who can speak German and I think he knows more about Germany than I do. He’s actually travelled to Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and still maintains contacts with his German friends. A common question posed to us is: whether Tanzanians are happier than Americans? After talking with Baba Benard, Tomi, and others, I really have to say that sure people are happy, but they really want to see development. Tomi has seen the western life both through experiencing it first hand and working with westerners. Tomi is happy but on the other hand I think he wants more opportunities for growth. In fact, Tomi has plans to move to Germany, but he knows the jump is a hard one especially from Tanzania. Regardless of his ambitions, Tomi is quite the wise man, and I’ve grown to enjoy his company.  I already know it’s going to be a lot of fun working with him over the next month.

After meeting Tomi, we met with all the administration: the hospital secretary, the doctor in charge, and the head Nun. There were so many names that Im still having trouble keeping track of them. Although everybody speaks English, our Swahili impressed the doctors and made the introductions much easier. In Swahili, greetings are super important. Every conversation starts with some sort of greeting and goes on for about a minute. It’s a stark contrast to the hey, hi, nods, or so comments I would get in California. People are so positive and take the time to say hi! As a westerner, I’m so used to just ignoring people that I’ve had to make an extra effort to embrace their culture. Additionally, they respect their elders by saying Shikamoo.. I’ve been saying it soo much that I even say it to people who are around my age, which always gives them a good laugh. I also think that people are more receptive when you try to talk to them in Swahili. In fact, on Monday when I introduced myself to the hospital, everybody was talking to English, but I spoke in Swahili. All the doctors gave me a round of applause and now most of them talk to me in Swahili. Tomi told me that he doesn’t understand why more Mzungus (foreigners) don’t try and learn Swahili because its an easy language. While I don’t think its an “easy” language, I think everybody appreciates it when you try to learn their culture. I’ve already had doctors come up to me asking me to fix things that are not hospital equipment.

After I met Dr. Minja, the main doctor contact. Dr. Minja speaks amazing English. He is a general practicioner who has been working at Kibosho Hospital 30 years ago… I could never work at the same place for 30 years, it’s real testament to his loyalty to this hospital. As I was talking to Dr. Minja waiting for Tomi to show us around, he could tell I was anxious. He told me here in Tanzania, its pole pole (slowly). In America, haraka haraka ( fast fast). There’s too much competition so you can’t even breathe. Sometimes, I’m very laid back, so I was taken aback by his comments, but I guess I just got to get used to the pace.


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Surroundings during our walk from Moshi

After touring our hospital, we went to our house. They put is in a new house that is much better equipped than what the kids in previous years got. It’s right next to the priest’s house and church, so we know we’ll be protected from any harm.  Additionally, we have a gas stove, fridge, and a washing machine. There’s supposed to be hot water showers, but it’s pretty much waterfall warm, (which isn’t very warm). I know it sounds really extravagant, and it is more than I hoped for.  However, blackouts are quite common, so we literally spent the first few days in the dark. It honestly is a bit creepy and lonely. With no light, the place is really cold and it’s pretty much all concrete all around. Moreover, there was a german priestess living with us, and we didn’t see her. At all. for all two days that she was supposed to be living with us, she never came into the house. That was freaky. Actually, the most freaky thing was finding a sword in the kitchen. I have no idea why anybody would need that.  With just John and myself, I freaked that after work, I would die of boredom.

I’ve grown to love working, and really dread coming back home. But now that the lights consistent and we started cooking (so I don’t have to eat rice and beans from the canteen for every meal), it’s starting to feel like home. Even the cold showers started feeling warm today. I guess this is just me running through the stages of Culture shock for a second time.


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A view of Kili from outside our house

Over the weekend, we explored Moshi and went to Lake Chala. We swam in the lake and did some kayaking. It was a chill day and it was nice to be with some of our friends. We went out at night, and I’m really enjoy bonding with the group. Our group is so diverse with some students from Denmark, and its remarkable how much we share even though we live in different places.  

More to come about the work we’re doing!

3 thoughts on “Kibosho Hospital: Return to Gothic Wonderland – First Days

  1. Really liked reading your blog! After reading I felt I was translocated to Moshi and am able to relate to your experiences. Looking forward to the next update! – Dad

  2. Great! To see that you are enjoying being there. This a valuable experience which will add richness to your experience. Well done, Ari

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