The New Year has started off pretty well so far here in Dar (is it really 2010 already?!). Although, I mist admit, it has been hard to transition back into work, daily daladala commutes, and life with my Tanzanian family after having so much fun with all my visitors from home. And it doesn’t help that I think I have had fleas (I keep getting lots of itchy bites and seeing little black, jumpy bugs). But they’re mostly gone now, I think, because the kitten that gave them to me died…
I think my work with the church is going to start changing because we have a new supervisor. This will be a good thing for our project planning team, because lately we have been completely unproductive and at a lost as to what to do. I am hoping that with this new supervisor, we will receive more guidance. We have many projects that require a lot of work, including constructing a girls’ school, proving palliative care services, establishing a health center, and digging bore holes to provide a water source. My tasks are mostly on the planning side, writing proposals and such. Thus far, the one project that I put most my effort into (hoping to provide income generating activities through agriculture for youth) has pretty much fallen through, which is a little disappointing. But I have high hopes that with our new leadership we’ll be able to move some of the other projects along. The church is also wanting someone to come and teach English (they asked me… but I don’t know how I feel about it), so if you know of anyone that wants to come volunteer in Tanzania let me know!
There is one new thing that I am very excited about: In April, I am going to Nairobi, Kenya to attend the Regional Microcredit Summit! For those of you that know me well probably already know that throughout college I grew increasingly interested in microcredit and what it can do to benefit communities—especially women and their children. At this summit, I will get to listen to lots of famous speakers (including Muhammad Yunus) and learn about what is new in the realm of microcredit, and more specifically what is working/ not working in the regions of East Africa and the Middle East. It should be a great learning experience and I hope that I can gain some insightful information that will help me down the line. My coworker, Isack is also coming with me.
Fun fact about Tanzania: no matter what the occasion or event, it is always appropriate to burst into song and dance that can last for an extended period of time. That’s why events can go on and on and on. For example, last weekend, Veronica (my other coworker) and I went to this women’s empowerment session, and at random times the speaker would shout out ‘can women do it or can’t they?’ And the crowd in response would say ‘yes women can!’ And of course, there was a DJ who played music at every possible transition, which in turn caused everyone to get excited and start dancing. Often when the DJ started playing a song, everyone would get out of their seats and dance up to the front. One time that this happened, Vero and I joined the other women and we all started dancing around in a circle at the front of the venue. A few women that were good at dancing were in the middle of the circle, doing crazy dance moves. One of the woman in the middle decided that I should also be in the middle of the circle, so she pulled me in and I tried my hardest not to look like a mzungu who can’t dance (which I definitely am, especially compared to these amazing African dancers!). I‘m pretty sure I made a fool of my self, but it was really funny and at least I made everyone laugh.