Expatriate Team

For over 55 years Tansen Mission Hospital has had expatriates serving here from a wide range of countries. At present there are around 14 expatriate adults, plus children from countries as varied as Sweden, Australia, Korea, USA and the UK. The hospital caters for both singles and families alike and there is a good sense of team and support between each other.

For families with children there is a small Tutorial Group catering for the needs of children from ages 5 - 11 years. There is a separate section 'Expatriate School' which gives more information about this.

Below is an article from a former German surgeon that gives some useful insights into life here:


Living in Tansen's multicultural team

"I still remember the day very well -- just as if it were today-- that we heard our pastor's encouraging voice on the answering machine: "Would you consider leaving for Nepal? We are looking for a surgeon to work in Tansen!" That was almost two years ago, and I was just finishing my surgical training in Germany. Yes, of course, we were ready to go wherever the Lord would send us. But the only thing we knew about Nepal was that it boasts the highest mountains in the world. The second thing we soon found out was that it is a country in which people are dying because of the struggle between the Maoists and the government. At any rate, we arrived in Pokhara, Nepal on27th April, 2001. Our family is made up of Elisabeth (mother and paediatric nurse), Reiner (father and surgeon), Selina (8, animal enthusiast) and Nils (6, courageous explorer).

The first five months of language study and cultural orientation were extremely difficult and exhausting. We were seconded by the International Nepal Fellowship (INF) to work at the UMN hospital in Tansen. When we went to Tansen for a brief work orientation the weather was cloudy and wet. We met people from many countries all at once: the U.K., Australia, USA, Finland, Sweden, and of courseNepal. So many first impresssions! Just when we thought we couldn't stand it any more and considered calling our home mission to say that we would return immediately, believe it or not, that very day the telephone line broke down! Soon many factors change, both around us and within us. Invitations to different missionary homes for meals was one way God encouraged us. And the clouds disappeared. So by the time the telephone functioned again, we had decided we would try it at least for six months. Now we have been living in our cosy house at the edge of the hospital compound for over a year.

The Lord has protected and blessed us in different ways each and every day. Selina and Nils enjoy the Tutorial Group, with nine children from five countries. After six months they were already correcting their parents' limited English, although the children had not spoken any English when we left Germany. Elisabeth has a full time job in our house. Among other things she tries to explain to our Nepali house-helper (who previously worked for Swiss, Korean and Swedish families) how to bake German whole meal bread. Besides the house and family social work, she is also involved in the Tutorial Group. Since my medical colleagues hail from Australia, Canada, England, thePhilippines and Nepal, I have had to resurrect my English skills. In addition I must use Nepali, the essential language for communicating with nurses and patients.

Although the challenges and difficulties abound, there are many gifts and interesting experiences waiting for us as we work in our multicultural team. Did you know that Finns eat rice pudding with an almond in it on Christmas day? Or that Swedes play a game called Sahalu (similar to hockey -- played every Wednesday afternoon here in Tansen?) Did you know that the traditional dress of the Philippinesis made from pineapples? Of course we expected challenges of the Nepali culture, but were less prepared for those of the other foreign cultures represented here. Daily work in such an international setting is still challenging, and some problems are caused due to misunderstandings in the "tossed salad" of languages. But now we experience these differences more as a privilege than a disadvantage. Against this background the verse John 13:35 lends a special meaning to the patients and staff at the hospital. "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." The love of our Lord, shared among each other, and to our patients helps us to overcome even cultural differences. And so our differences are no longer troublesome but interesting, and make Tansen a "rangichangi" (colourful) place for us as a family to live and work on behalf of the people of Nepal."

Dr. Reiner Sievers, Surgeon, January 2003

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