My name is Sister Beatrice Kayombo. I invite you to join me on my journey to become a medical doctor so I can serve my people of Imiliwaha in Tanzania, Africa.
I was born in a small village in Mlangali and was not familiar with electricity, the internet or town life like other boys and girls who lived in the big cities in Tanzania. I come from a large family of 12 children. There are seven boys and five girls. My sister and I entered the Benedictine community of St. Gertrud in Imiliwaha, and one of my brothers became a priest in 2007. When I was growing up there was not running water. We used to walk many kilometers to find water for drinking, cooking, washing and cleaning. We also found our firewood in the bushes where it was dangerous as there were many harmful animals including poisonous snakes, and lions that had escaped from the animal reserve. My mother attended elementary school for two years, and my father completed up to standard 7. There was no school in my village so I entered elementary school in the next village when I was 7 years old. It took us one and half hour to walk to school. We left home early in the morning and came home in the evening and walked in groups. Even though it meant lots of walking, education was very important for me so I walked in all kinds of weather (rain and hot).
While in elementary school I felt that God was calling me to join a monastic religious life. I informed my parents about this calling and they seemed not to take it seriously and they said I was dreaming and that I was too young to make that decision. Additionally, my father was not happy because he wanted me to get married to that he could get a dowry. He also thought he would lose his prestige as I was famous in sports at school in playing netball (similar to basketball) and I did well in national exams. Besides being called by God to religious life, I really wanted to go to nursing school and work with sick people. I did the interview and took the entrance examinations while still home and then I went to the convent. Thanks be to God I passed my examination, so while in the convent, I went to nursing school and began to work as a nurse and midwife. I felt very blessed that while in the monastic life I was allowed to not only get my education but also to work as a nurse and do the job that made me happy.
After facing many challenges in my career I thought it would be important to get more education. My superior had thought this too. So she sent me for further studies her in America. I was in America, being sponsored by the Benedictine Monks and Sisters from Lisle, IL and Benedictine University for my education. At the completion of the 2009 semester, my dream and goal was to begin graduate work toward becoming a medical doctor. In 15 years I hope I will already be back to my country, working as a medical doctor and making a difference in people’s lives, not only physically but changing and enhancing the practice of medicine in Tanzania.
I graduated (undergraduate studies) in May of 2009 and then earned my Masters in Public Health degree at Benedictine University. In August 2010 I left the US for Poland to attend Poznan University Medical School to become a doctor. In April 2014 I'll be graduating!! I'm so grateful for the support of Friends of Imiliwaha, and my Sisters at St. Gertrude's.