Welcome! | Karibuni!

Welcome to my very new blog! I’ve never blogged before, so I’ll be learning as I go along. Advance apologies for any mix-ups and/or posting delays. This is a personal challenge in many ways, including that it’s the manifestation of an idea I’ve been sitting on for many months (if not years) and that I aim to have all my posts be in two languages: English and Swahili. I am fluent in Swahili, but it is actually my fourth language (I speak three fluently and I am reasonably proficient in another two), one that I learnt amidst much teasing on the school playground. Now that I live in a country where English predominates, opportunities to use Swahili are few and far between — limited primarily to interpreting for patients and talking to specific friends. I read somewhere that we never forget languages, that they just get filed away somewhere in our brains; well, this is my way of exercising my brain to retain a broad range of ease in Swahili.

“Mkalimani” means ‘interpreter’ in Swahili, which is the job that I reflect on herein. However, this blog was originally named “For J” because that is the first letter of the first names of the two people who inspired it: my mother, the late Dr. Jane Ilahuka, and one of my patients whose name I cannot state herein for all reasons HIPAA. The former was a woman of remarkable character whose life informs how I move through the world today, almost ten years since she passed away, and my encounter with the latter was a jarring realisation that “common reproductive health knowledge” is not always, in fact, common. However, I have now renamed it “mkalimani”, a word that means ‘interpreter’ in Swahili and is more fitting for the nature of this blog.

The plan is for this to be a platform for sharing a collection of stories about the reproductive health education experiences of people who grew up in African cultures, as well as reflecting on the wisdom I glean from being medical interpreter. Please be open to these themes evolving as the blog grows, and I hope to keep you engaged throughout.

Warm welcome,

– Sylvia

***

Karibuni sana katika hii tovuti yangu mpya kabisa! Sijawahi kuwa na blogu, kwa hiyo nitakuwa nikijifunza njiani. Ninatanguliza samahani kwa makosa yoyote yatakayoibuka njiani pamoja na/au kukawia kuchapisha mambo. Hili ni zoezi kubwa kwangu, kwa kuwa ni wazo ambalo nimekuwa nalo kwa miezi mingi (kama sio miaka), na pia kwa kuwa ninadhamiria kuchapisha katika lugha mbili: Kiingereza na Kiswahili. Kiswahili ninakizungumza vizuri kabisa, lakini ni lugha yangu ya nne — ninaongea tatu vizuri, na nyingine mbili kwa wastani — ambayo nilijifunza kwa kuchekwa na kutaniwa sana shuleni. Sasa kwa kuwa ninaishi kwenye nchi ambapo Kiingereza ndio lugha kuu, nafasi pekee za kutumia Kiswahili ni kwenye kazi yangu ya ukalimani na kwenye kuongea na baadhi ya marafiki zangu. Nilisoma mahali kwamba lugha hazisahauliwi, bali zinahifadhiwa mahali ubongoni; basi hii njia yangu moja ya kulazimisha ulimi wangu uendelee kuwa mwepesi katika Kiswahili.

Hii blogu inaitwa “Mkalimani” kwa kuwa hiyo ndio kazi ninayoizungumzia humu. Lakini awali ilikuwa inaitwa “For J”, kwa kuwa hili ni herufi ya kwanza la majina ya kwanza ya watu wawili walioipa msukumo: mama yangu, marehemu Dr. Jane Ilahuka, na mgonjwa wangu mmoja ambaye jina lake siwezi kutaja kwa sababu ya sheria zinazolinda taarifa binafsi za kiafya. Jinsi mama yangu alivyoishi maisha yake ni mfano ninaojaribu kuiga katika maisha yangu mimi mwenyewe, na mgonjwa wangu alinifanya niamke na kutambua kwamba sio kila mtu ana ufahamu was msingi kuhusu afya ya uzazi. Hivi sasa nimebadili jina kuwa “Mkalimani”, yaani mtu anayetafsiri lugha, kwa kuwa nimeona hili jina linaifaa zaidi.

Lengo ni kwamba hii blogu itakuwa jukwaa la kushirikiana simulizi mbalimbali, pamoja na tafakari kutoka kazi yangu kama mkalimani wa kiafya. Haya malengo yanaweza kubadilika jinsi blogu ikuavyo hivyo ninaomba uvumilivu, lakini ninatumaini kuwa utaifurahia kwa vyovyote vile.

Karibuni sana,

– Sylvia

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