Six months ago if you had asked me if we could set-up a village experience that was just as good and just as appealing as our Zanzibar village experience, I would have said I had my work cut out. How would we be able to top the attraction of going to one of the most alluring and captivating islands in the world? It would appear however that in the new village experience of Kidodi we have managed it!
Based on students’ feedback and our own enthusiasm to keep diversifying our range of experiences we offer, it was decided that we would create a completely new village experience for the Dar es Salaam Programme. We wanted to create something that would offer a truly unique opportunity to experience being part of a community in rural Tanzania that very few other tourists would ever have the chance to see.
After four months of searching and many dozens of villages explored, our PM found the ideal location, the village of Kidodi, nestled between the Mikumi National park (Tanzania’s largest NP) and the Nzdungwa Mountains NP, five hours bus journey east of Dar. The big draw of the village was the stunning rural location, with impressive views of the lush mountains in the background and a fantastic village health clinic with an enthusiastic staff eager to host international elective students. Even the journey itself was part of the attraction, with one hour of the trip passing through the heart of the Mikumi Natinal park. On my first visit to the village I spotted giraffe, zebra and even had a close call with an elephant crossing the road!
After finding a great location we knew students would love, we set about finding a host family that would offer the insight into village living which is crucial to the success of this type of trip. Fortunately we were introduced to a man named Nassoro who took an instant interest in our idea of bringing adventurous and enthusiastic medical students from around the world to his village in rural Tanzania! He quickly found a willing family who were keen to be involved in the exciting new village venture. By the time I made it out to Tanzania at the beginning of the year we had made contacts with English teachers in the local primary school, a spiritual healer, the leader of the local sugar cane co-operative and a group of local dancers eager to show-off their high energy traditional dance routines.
The seven day village experience recently hosted its 10th and 11th students and has received really positive feedback from every student. So much so that a month back we increased the occupancy of the village experience from two students to four! This increase in numbers has been welcomed by all the members of the village we work in partnership with, not least Nassoro our energetic guide who takes it upon himself to make sure every visit to his village leaves with no hesitation where the best location in Tanzania is.
Our relationship with the village hospital is growing stronger with each new group of students who visit, with the staff commenting that it is really great to have the chance to interact with medical, nursing and physiotherapy students from around the world. The hospital has already received a range of donations from students visiting for the week and our ongoing commitment to the hospital means we can really play a positive role in promoting healthcare in the rural village.