CHAPTER 16: Kilimanjaro 1998-2000


Retirement in US was OK, but there was still that back to Africa urge. So, I agreed to help in Tanzania at KCMC (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center) for two years. There I taught AMOs (Assistant Medical Officers) mainly and sometimes medical students in the new Medical School. I was of course striving to preserve and enhance community-mindedness in medical academia. It was great to be part of the birth of such a unique institution. KCMC is located at Moshi on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. So, I called it “Mayo on the Mountain”. From Moshi it is only 50 miles west to Arusha where our daughter Marilyn Simonson lives. It is also 50 miles east and north around the mountain to reach Lasit, my childhood home in Kenya. So, we were in long-familiar territory. An important extra blessing was the presence of our oldest daughter Carolyn who was a teacher at ISM (International School, Moshi). The faculty of KCMC was increasingly Tanzanian. But the makeup was still very cosmopolitan. This added a great deal of flavor to social gatherings. We lived in a nice house on the doctors’ compound. Our garden contained six different tropical fruits and a splendid view of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. During our time at KCMC we had three important outings. One was with KCMC colleagues to attend the two-yearly CMDA CME seminar at Brackenhurst in Kenya. Another was a visit to Israel with a Wheaton College group. The third was a fond farewell safari visiting Ruaha National Park and Lake Malawi. Yes, KCMC had been a gratifying interruption of retirement.


Climbed Kili with Marilyn and staff friends  ***Needs insertion


Assistant Medical Officer students at KCMC
with Kilimanjaro in background.

In August we left Albuquerque for Moshi to join KCMC (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre). I was in the Department of Community Health where I taught AMOs (Assistant Medical Officers). I also did some teaching of first year students in the then nascent Medical School. Both posts entailed some field work, training in demography, epidemiology and particularly “Community-Based Development” (my term). The excellent physical plant of KCMC and its ancillary buildings had been built as an Israeli aid project.

Our residence was a nice home on the Doctors’ Compound, known locally as “Usunguni” for white-man’s territory (though 20% of occupants were Tanzanians). The faculty at KCMC was an enjoyable ethnic mix (Chaga, Brits, Dutch, Maasai, German, Luo, US, Greek etc.) covering a wide variety of specialties. We enjoyed monthly get-togethers for social/cultural presentations. Also there were occasional faculty safaris together to remote areas.

Of particular joy to us was the presence in Moshi of our daughter Carolyn who was teaching at ISM (International School Moshi). This school had been founded importantly to meet the needs of children of expatriate faculty at KCMC. The school was an “IB” (International Baccalaureate.) school so had high academic standards. Carolyn’s two daughters graduated from there as did a number of our other grandchildren (Serena, Arlene, Caleb and Lane (of Steve and Marilyn Simonson).

We worshiped at St Margaret’s Anglican Church, Moshi with a very diverse congregation. One of the Lay preachers was Dr. Joe Taylor long-time missionary doctor in E.Africa and founder of “Sight By Wings” a Christian eye care NGO. In the early days of AMREF I had installed a top-of-tree radio antenna for Joe at his Mvumi Hospital location. We enjoyed many fellowships and collaborations through the years.

Sight by Wings (SBW)

This organization was started by MDs Joe Taylor and Philip Morris and also Harold DeSouza a lecturer at Nairobi U. The main function was to get UK eye specialists to donate their time to safaris in East Africa doing and teaching eye surgery at mission hospitals. The organization had its own small plane to ferry the visitors on from Nairobi out to the hospitals. SBW also developed an eyeglass manufacturing program to provide affordable glasses to patients. I collaborated with them frequently and on occasion played a temporary official role.


In November Betty flew from Moshi via US to Alaska to visit Gini and family in Anchorage. Then she flew to Albuquerque to surprise Dan on his 50th birthday, Dec. 9th.


In February we joined a Wheaton College trip to Israel.

CMDA CMA at Brackenhurst

In early 2000 with other KCMC staff we attended the CMDA (Christian Medical & Dental Assn.) on-going education Seminar at Brackenhurst, Kenya.

KCMC faculty trip to Ruaha

In March or April we joined some of  the KCMC faculty  for a safari to Ruaha National Park.

Ruaha National Park


Some time in 2000  we had the  pleasure of hosting Betty’s  sister Eva and her granddaughter Jackie. Jackie took a great deal of  interest in our work and years later became a specialist in Internal Medicine and ER medicine.

Lasit (K) visits

During this era we visited my childhood home, Lasit, in Kenya numerous times. The mud and wattle home with grass roof was gone but the tall “Olasiti” trees still thrived. The simple hydraulic ram water pump had been replaced by a less-reliable diesel-powered pump. The only locals who remembered the Shaffers had been little kids at the time. The small corrugated iron church building Dad built in the ’30 had been replaced by a larger one of cement block. The old corrugated iron sheets had become a roof for the local primary school.

Return to US

In May 2000 we moved back to Albuquerque to our house at 2917 Cutler.   In our absence it had been occupied by a UNM medical student and her family (husband and two children). The proximity to the med school enabled her to pop home to nurse her baby during the day.

Link to Photos for this chapter (16:Kilimanjaro 1998-2000)

Link to next chapter (17: Retirement II 2000-2009)


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