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Published: March 4th 2013
Hope you don’t mind a second blog entry in quick succession? But this time it’s Maff! Hope you are all well & January & February weren’t too slow, cold & wintery?
I thought I’d add an entry which wasn’t just about our travels, but about our time here & the things we have encountered day to day in East Africa. We have had an amazing time & we hope it continues until our flight home, albeit, we have only sampled 2 countries (3 if you include the transit through Kenya!) & have 4 left. We have experienced so much, our relationship has grown stronger & we feel our time here has changed our attitude to Africa, not only in day to day life, but also in how to help.
We came with an approach of wanting to change things & show/help/change people & the way things work, but that was out the window straight away, despite some resistance! The expression T.I.A. is just so true, This is Africa & with all the will in the world, nothing is going to change that. Our time in Moshi & at Kili Kids certainly changed our views of how we can help & what help is needed. We found the local workers at the charity uninterested & not invested in the project, which brought about failings in its progression & at the same time you can see that the dis-interest is highly likely to be from the continued flow of money in from elsewhere. There is no longer any reason to help yourself in Africa, if someone continually rocks up & does it for you. There is no long term approach/plan/goal from the local employees. Plus because of the short term success of the project in its first year, bureaucratic interference to garner money from it was rife, which again lent to a continued question of why should we bother then? If the local government are so quick to take things away, what good can we do? That is not to say that you shouldn’t help. Some days, volunteering here has been frustrating beyond belief but other days the most rewarding experience I have been fortunate enough to participate in. The best approach has been one of being selfish & getting out of the experience what we want & at the same time keeping a rational head that we aren’t going to change the place. But our help is greatly appreciated & we are contributing in a small way to hopefully a continued success of helping orphans or street kids.
However, one thing Kili kids has provided me with was the most perfect African moment I have experienced so far!..I had had visions of African plains, not seeing a soul, finding it difficult to get around, finding day to day life to be tough -however modern Africa just isn’t like that at all. Our friend Robin said “this is mobile country” & he wasn’t wrong! Everyone has a mobile phone, so much so you wonder how the place ever survived without them. <span> Getting around is very easy & if you really want something, then you can always find someone who would run the streets to find it (for a tip, of course!), either that or you ask for help, get taken to where you want to go & then have to tip!!
Anyway back to my moment at Kili kids.<span> It was about 11am & I was knelt on my own planting sunflower & cucumber seeds, it was utterly peaceful, no motor cars, no trucks, no bikes, no generators, only bird song, a gentle breeze, the sun beating down, Kilimanjaro looming over the scene & Mary, one of the local workers at the project, quietly singing to herself. It was beautiful. She was singing in Swahili as she worked and there was no falsity or intent behind her song, she just sang alone with a smile on her face. I had a image of what I wanted to experience out here & that was it ( I’m not doing it justice here, but it was just perfect)
Getting around has been too easy!!! The local transport in each country is Toyata Hiace vans, called Mutatu in Uganda & Dalla Dalla in Tanzania. There are hundreds doing routes around the towns, clogging up the roads in cities & ragging it around the countryside. They are brilliant & so cheap. Currently in Iringa we have to take a Dalla Dalla in to town & to a project called FISCH. The distance is about 6k & the cost each time is 300TSH, which is about 12p. They are usually rammed; personal space is not consideration across Africa! The vans officially seat 14 or 16, but we have been on vans holding 31/32. You wonder how more people can get on, but the driver will beep his horn, pull over & the conductor (not as official as it sounds) will get more people on! Also as a side note all the vehicle registration plates in Uganda start with a U, for example U123ABC, in Tanzania they start with a T & on Zanzibar (can you see a pattern already?!) a Z!!
Another thing we have had to deal with is power cuts. Everyday there is a power cut, no matter whether you are in the countryside, town or cities. They vary from 15 minutes to 12 hours. In Moshi the power would flicker off for a second or so, and then you knew a cut was imminent, and then within 30 secs the power was gone. Sometimes it was bliss to sit outside in the warmth of the evening with no power under the moonlight or with oil lamps, it brought a far more friendlier spirit of talking & games, instead of folk sat at laptops, ipads, mobiles & watching telly. We learnt the power company is owned by the opposition party to the Tanzanian government, therefore the theory should be that the people will be angry at the government & not vote for them, however everyone knows that the power company is owned by the opposition & so everyone is just pis**d at the politicians!
One thing that has been a little disappointing has been music. Unless of course you love Rhianna or Sean <span> Paul, they are played everywhere & relentlessly! I suppose it makes total sense, but it never occurred to me, but locals don’t want to listen to traditional music, as much as we are not likely to sit down & listen to morris dancing tunes!! Or marching band tunes!! Therefore why would people in Uganda or Tanzania listen to traditional Swahili music?!! We have hardly heard any, radio stations either play Caribbean tunes or surprisingly Celine Dion, Michael Bolton & Westlife are played loads. Somewhat sadly, the first tune I heard on December 4, when we had arrived, was One Direction!! Can you believe it?!! This was followed by Rhianna.
We were talking with people in the house; we are currently staying in Mkimbizi, near Iringa, about things we miss about home. The list wasn’t very long. We all agreed Friends & Family were a given, but it was the other things in life that we were discussing! Items which came up were drinking from a tap (and not having to buy), chocolate & good bread & milk. Fortunately we have never had an issue with getting water, our water treatment tablets have worked a treat when needed & getting bottled water is easy & not expensive. It is more than a bottle of coke or fanta, but not by much (by the way, there is Pineapple Fanta for sale here, I’m not one for fizzy drinks, but I wish this was sold in the UK!!). You can buy a 1.5l bottle for 1500TSH about 60p. Chocolate is a treat & you have to pay over the odds for nutella which is the only chocolate that can be brought that doesn’t matter if it melts!!<span> Bread is usually sweet bread, we found some lovely fresh rolls whilst in Jambiani, but that has been about it & milk is not fresh despite what the packages may state. UHT is the way to go or you have to drink it straight away. However whilst in Arusha I brought some milk & on the way back to the hostel (too far away to make a journey back to the mini market where I brought it) I found that the milk was cottage cheese like in its consistency!! Not nice!! This morning (March 2) I had my first bowl of cereal (cornflakes) for over 3 months & I have to say I really enjoyed it! And since being in Iringa, (10 days now) I’ve not used a sit down toilet, only squat toilets, not so good on the knees after you have been sleeping in a bed which is just too short. In the last 3 months I have slept in 1 comfortable bed & that was in a $6 a night backpackers & I have never slept in a bed that has been long enough to stretch, Streaky & Hicks would be in all sorts of trouble!!!
One final thing, Flys! They are everywhere & on everything, if there is one total irritation with daily life that is constant & doesn’t go away it is flys. They hang round your face, dive bomb your ears, eyes & mouth. They are buzzing around your food, in your mossie nets, always in the bathroom & kitchen, if it is not flys, then mossies, fruit flys or flying ants. We will come back with strong wrists & shoulders from all the waving away of the constant flying invasion!!!
But anyway, I’ve gone on way too long!!<span> I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into my day to day musings!<span> Love to all, miss everyone lots… Kimmy says “Ndizi”!!!!!
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