Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hakuna Matata

         I started Swahili lessons this week and they're going really well. I have two teachers, Deo and Big Boy, and they make class fun, which makes learning so much easier. Greetings are very important to Tanzanians (there are over 100 ways to greet people), and not greeting them in return is considered very rude. People I talk to are so happy now when I speak even a little in Swahili. I have a long way to go yet, but at least I can answer when people ask me "Habari?" or "Hujambo?".  FYI, this is usually answered with "nzuri sana". 
Ninapenda Tanzania :)

Swahili on the roof with Deo

         I also got to start my internship at Women Fund Tanzania this week, even though things aren't official yet. We're still waiting for papers to be signed, but we've worked out which days I'll be at WFT and what it is I'll be working on. I'll be in the office three days a week and occasionally I'll be going with Mary to meetings or out in the field to meet women we could possibly help in the future. WFT really needs help with publicity and finding donors or other organizations with similar interests, so the other intern and I have already started a Facebook page which we will be updating regularly and using to link with other organizations. Who knew Facebook could be such a great tool! If anyone would like to check it out here's the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Women-Fund-Tanzania/113785412039439 . There's not much to it yet as we just started, but like it and help spread the word on this great up and coming organization, the first of it's kind in Tanzania! We will also be working on the WFT website and a pamphlet and we will be creating a database for the Fund as well as researching potential donors. I'm starting to realize that development work requires a whole lot of time spent in an office these days, and not much time spent out there doing the physical side of it. We had a meeting with someone from CIDA (the Canadian International Development Agency) yesterday, and he said CIDA employees now spend most of their time in meetings and doing paperwork. It's not like the old days of building schools and teaching best practices to rural farmers. I'm just happy to finally have things to work on, because I spend so much time just sitting in the office waiting for people to show up.
       Speaking of CIDA, we had to go downtown Dar to the Canadian High Commission for the meeting yesterday and we were invited to come back and watch the Canucks games there if they make it to the Stanley Cup final. How awesome would that be? The Canadian High Commission is the closest thing we're going to get to home around here, that's for sure. 

      I was starting to feel really good about Dar es Salaam, getting to know people and just feeling generally more comfortable here, when one thing yesterday kind of ruined it. We were having a really good day, with ten interns crammed into Iddi's van on the way to the High Commission, singing a song Iddi taught us in Swahili. The song goes like this:

Jambo, jambo bwana
Habari gani?
Nzuri sana
Tanzania yetu
Hakuna Matata!

      It was so much fun singing this song in Swahili over and over again with our taxi driver. I feel like we're really connecting with Iddi and making friends with him; some of the interns have even been to his home and met his family. That made it particularly difficult when we were pulled over later on the way home. We were stuck sitting in traffic and this police officer must have noticed a bunch of 'mzungus' and thought, oh, easy target. There were dalla dallas going by with people hanging out the doors, and trucks loaded with goods, with people sitting on top of the loads, along with bajajs whizzing by along the shoulder. And he decides to pull us over because there are two too many people in the van. It kind of shows you how corrupt people in a place of power can be here. The dalla dallas are privately owned and the cops tend to turn a blind eye to them depending on which wealthy businessman they belong to. Your average taxi driver has no influence on them. The officer looked so angry when he was talking to Iddi and we were terrified that he was going to lose his license/vehicle or have to pay a huge fine/bribe. We saw Iddi going into his pocket for his wallet, but luckily he was let go with just a warning. Or so he says. We didn't see him hand any money over anyway. This experience showed us just how much of a target we are, just based on our skin colour, no matter how at home we may begin to feel here. We have to be more careful to obey laws that are often merely suggestions   for the average person. But like the song says, hakuna matata. We're always going to stick out here, so there's no point worrying about it. I'll take the necessary precautions to keep myself, and my new friends like Iddi, safe, but beyond that, no worries!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. WTF was with "Doc"...russ.....


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