John Gossen
John Gossen
Tanzania 2016
I graduated from Belmont University with a B.S. in biology. I have been a certified Advanced Emergency Medical Technician for four years, working in ambulances and emergency rooms. Over three months I will use my experience in emergency medicine to volunteer in a government hospital in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Read More About John →

Karibu mtoto

“A sunlit walk in Africa” A Poem by:

John Gossen

Dimming light brings the shadows of night and relief from the African heat.

A spectrum from the sunset splashes across  pavement and among the many palm trees.

It is here that I saunter a world weary traveler on a special form of safari.

To my left walk Masai men, on my right Tanzanians, up ahead I spy the object of my dreams.

With a shout in Swahili I sprint across the serenge* arriving at the salvation I seek.

A place near to my heart (and its arterial parts) known only as...



They are shilling out money over here!

Karibuni. I apologize for taking so long to write my first post since landing in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania but after my whirlwind orientation to the new timezone, job, language, and culture the climate kicked in with a rainstorm that knocked out power for several days. Turns out that the nearest place with sturdy internet and reliable energy is a Kentucky Fried Chicken shop (the only one in Dar) a half mile up the road.**


The merry Mzungu and Swahili signs
Here is a short list of things I have come to learn about Tanzania in my limited time here.
1. Fewer people speak English than I initially anticipated. Kiswahili is the predominant language.
2. English and Kiswahili share the same medical terminology.
3. The Tanzanian people are among the friendliest people on the planet.
4. I am so happy to be here

I have spent the past few days getting acquainted with the hospital, and the vastly different style of healthcare present in Africa. The system is plagued by shortages in equipment, and staff. I spent my first day volunteering in the labor and delivery department, where a total of 8 women gave birth within 4 hours. I was the only person with a stethoscope.

Common medical procedures such as abscess incision and drainage or wound care have to be done with a great deal of “improvising.” Patients buy their equipment for certain procedures before seeing  medical professionals. If a wound requires more than the predetermined amount, or a doctor decides an additional treatment is necessary a family member (if there is one) must run out and purchase the necessary supplies.

IMG_0573 IMG_0569

My new home, inside and out.

While Tanzania is short on supplies and resources, they are not short on kindness. Every patient provider interaction concludes with a thank you from the patient. Every... single... time... There is no pain medicine in Tanzania aside from local anesthetic and while the patient may wince, they rarely complain. While helping in the Labor and Delivery ward, one of the nurses began teaching me Swahili, and even offered to run home and bring her newborn baby so I could meet him.

The hospital staff, fellow medical volunteers and my host family have been incredibly welcoming. Showing me the ropes of a vastly different style of healthcare, while providing  a family and home despite being several thousand miles away from my own.
I have already learned so much from Tanzania yet I am only a couple days in.
Please excuse the brevity of this post, but I am worried about losing internet access again, and I want to let my family know that I am safe, sound and loving life in Africa.
I will try to provide a more complete report via my next update.


P.S. I still welcome any and all feedback good or bad. This whole blogging thing is very new to me.

* Tanzanian street.
** Dear mom and dad I am safe and ok.


5 thoughts on “Karibu mtoto”

  1. Great update! Keep it coming. Love the pictures. What does Karibu motto mean? Miss you.. Be Safe

  2. Hodi John!

    This is amazing! So glad you are safe and having a fantastic time. You rock! Take lots of pictures.

  3. Loved the long blog. What a experience you are having.
    Did not realize Tanzania was so beautiful.

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