Hot springs and a visit to the blood bank
All in all, it was a great trip!
You have two hands, one for helping yourself,
the other for helping others - Audrey Hepburn
Hot springs and a visit to the blood bank
I was determined to finally go to the "secret" hot springs that some of the EWH students from last year went to while I was climbing Ol Doinyo Lengai. On Sunday, we headed out to figure out where it was! I had received a few tips from my on the ground coordinator last year, Lora, that the springs were located off the beaten path by N'gombe Village. With my (not so) trusty Swahili skills, we ended up paying a piki piki (motorcycle) driver $4 to lead the way to the springs... which ended up being about an hour and a half drive!! We had no idea how far out it was and it was almost unbelievable when we were suddenly tucked behind big, sweeping trees with pools of beautiful, clear water! The water was a nice temperature for swimming and it even had some tiny little fish that decided our toes were worthy of nibbling on. I kept forgetting that there indeed was quite the current due to all the spring inlets, so my dog paddling techniques were definitely needed haha. Right after we got out, a ton of local kids jumped in. Talk about a nice place to relax when you're home is basically a desert!
After that, we headed to Moshi and spent a wonderful evening eating Italian food and watched the Olympics for the first time! The next day, Colin and I headed to KCMC to figure out where the blood bank operates in Northern Tanzania. I had already discovered last fall that blood banks in Tanzania are pretty scarce and that the blood donations are even scarcer. Since my thesis is all about separating blood I went to check out their facilities. Luckily, the EWH students working at KCMC (shout out to Juan and Christine!) got us headed in the right direction and we ended up having quite the tour of the facilities! Everything was very professional, and procedures almost exactly the same as you'd find in the U.S. I learned that they consistently have blood shortages, mainly due to the lack of volunteers. People aren't really aware of what blood donations can do for others and some really just fear needles, or finding out their test results. Around 5% of the population in Tanzania are living with HIV, so the fear of being diagnosed with it is a big one, especially because treatment isn't available for the majority.
All in all, it was a great trip!
Unfortunately with the cookbook project, craziness around the workshop with Nane Nane approaching, and finishing up other random things, we didn't get to go out and test our new addition to the maize sheller. Not the prettiest of solutions, but if GCS is able to test it and see that no jamming occurs with it on, it could solve the problems they've been having and start putting them back on the market. Since the company is so new, I'm hoping some of the things we did and the reports we wrote will become a solid foundation for any future volunteers/engineers that work there. Overall it was definitely a great learning experience and I hope all of their business model plans and sales rep training proves successful, since that was the company's main focus this summer.
As for Twende, I was able to help write two grants for Jim and his current project, the animal powered generator. One of the grant applications required a "story" submission on their website HCD connect. Our posting can be found HERE. Jim will also continue to work with World Vision and Global Service Corps since the project report we submitted about Ngage village was able to create enough interest in the project and they are now planning on fixing the problem! I hope to stay updated and hopefully see a solution in the near future :D
Finally safari pics! After deciding not to go last year, it was pretty necessary to head out to some of Tanzania's beautiful national parks! We spent two nights at Panaroma Campsite, which had an amazing view of Lake Manyara, and then two days exploring Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire. The crater was a crazy experience, it was basically a bubble of wildlife where the animals have a solid food and water supply year round and Tarangire was filled with elephants and giraffes! It was such a cool experience being in two totally different environments seeing some of the most beautiful animals in the world.
Tarangire National Park
Since I did a project write up for our village visit, I figured it'd be easiest just to post it in here as well!
After World Vision and Global Service Corps approached Twende and Global Cycle Solutions’ workshop in Njiro about the noted river problem in Ngage, Colin, Jim, and I inquired further about the problem. A field visit was arranged through Global Vision for July 31st. The following report outlines observations and potential fixes to the problem:
The river that provides the surrounding villages with vital resources also prevents them from distributing their produce effectively. Due to the lack of a bridge, large vehicles such as lorries must drive over 140 km of rough dirt roads rather than 40 km if they could simply cross and continue on. On our way back to Arusha, we saw 3 lorries stuck in the large ditches found at various points on the roads.
The current solution has been in place for over 40 years and has provided a simple, relatively cheap option for small groups of villagers and motorcycle drivers to cross in 5 minutes to reach the other side. There are 2 boats available to cross, one being a dug-out canoe and one being a wider wooden boat. The dug-out canoe is well built, but due to its age, it is beginning to leak requiring water has to be emptied frequently. The wider boat is more unstable and not robust enough to carry large objects such as a motorcycle. The cost to cross the river is 200 shillings and the procedure to cross is perfected by the men steering the boats to handle the strong current at that point in the river. We approximate the distance to be about 70-75 meters with a depth of up to 2 meters.
The ideal fix for this problem would be to build bridge that is strong enough to hold a lorrie. The bridge would only need to be single lane due to the low traffic seen in this area. This solution would allow all traffic to avoid taking the large detour around the river, and would be especially helpful when large shipments are leaving the farms. This however, would require a team of civil engineers, a lot of material, and possibly government help.
The step below this fix would be to make a wooden bridge about 2 meters in width to allow people to walk across, carts and motorcycles. This would resemble a dock-like construction entirely made out of wood. If this is possible, perhaps farmers could have larger trucks bring their produce to this bridge point and then cross via motorcycle or hand carts with the products they’d like to export.
The simplest solution that was discussed was to create a pontoon raft with a large surface area along with a rope system which stretches across the width of the river. The construction of the craft could make use of local materials including wood, leaves, rope, and plastic or metal drums. This would be a temporary solution but the ability to carry larger loads would benefit the villagers.
The river’s current is very strong due to the rocks that concentrate the stream flow towards the irrigation system. The boats used now are maneuvered in a way that involves complete 180 degree rotation to avoid being pulled down stream. If built, a raft may witness too much force in the highest current areas and make it too challenging to pull across if the system is set up in the area being used at this time. At a place of slower flow, the raft would be much easier to implement.
After viewing the river crossing, we continued to explore the surroundings and see how the recent irrigation system that World Vision and World Food Program implemented has brought change to the area. Rather than having to concentrate all of their time and effort in the rainy season, farms are now flourishing with onions and benefiting from crops all year long. The major problem now is the high cost of transportation of produce and the fluctuating price of crops because of this. One farmer was in the process of building more storage units so his onions could be dried and stored properly until there is an increase in demand and price for onions. All of the people we met with were extremely gracious and kind, allowing us to see their fields and answering any questions we had.
Overall, it was a really fun trip and it was nice to have another day out in the village. Colin tried his first goat meat and everyone was SO welcoming!
On Sunday, I finally got a chance to meet with Hekima again at their weekly meeting. I made a survey for all of them to fill out and worked with my mama's daughter to translate everything properly. I learned that almost all of the 37 members are small business owners. Whether it be selling vegetables at Tengeru market twice a week or selling second hand clothes and shoes in Arusha, all remain super busy every day of the week struggling to expand their businesses even further. I also met the group coordinator who started up Hekima as well as over 10 other micro groups in surrounding villages. She saw a need for a common meeting place and support group for small business women. Once she learned the benefits of microfinance, she started her first groups three years ago and they're now growing and supporting more and more people.
After the surveys were filled out and their meeting was coming to an end, I passed out the mardi gras beads I brought from NOLA, because last year my mama loved them! The group enjoyed them just as much and started singing while I was passing them out - I love Tanzanian songs! It was certainly a fun way to end the meeting and I'm hoping to visit some of the women at their businesses before we leave.
Today was also a sad day because it marked our last official "cooking class" where we made grilled meat, banana cake, potato salad, fried bananas, and rice cakes. I am really going to miss spending afternoons in Makumira with our wonderful Tanzanian family! I feel like the luckiest person having been placed at my mama's house last year. I'm glad with the cookbook, I have a chance to help them in return. It also makes me happy knowing I always have a place to stay whenever I have the chance to come back! Farida and Mama Glory are both single ladies, and despite how hard it is to keep a steady job here, they've managed to make due with what they have, send their eldest daughters to university, and have the most welcoming homes you could ask for.
On July 4th-5th Colin, Daniel and I headed out to Babati - a more rural town about 3 hours west of Arusha. We wanted to get some field data for the jamming problem the shellers have been showing and it was just a good way to see the machine working with more than a few cobs in the workshop. After a long bus ride, we quickly found a guest house and explored the area. Since it was already evening by the time we got there and I wasn't feeling too well (although I love Tanzania, my stomach usually doesn't!) we went to bed early and left the next day for setting up and shelling. Tanganyika Farmers Association (TFA) let us borrow their already set up bike and found a willing farm about 15 minutes outside of town to let us shell some of their maize - you can imagine it'd be a hard decision ;) . By the time we were all set up, there was a crowd ready to do our work for us! Turns out, when you don't have any "toys," bikes and a new maize shelling machine are fun and interesting. Within an hour of shelling, we had about 6 jams where cobs were lodged in good right before the exit point.
Since then, we have been brainstorming ways to fix this problem and have recently made a new plate to insert in the front piece of the sheller. The only difficulty is being able to test on a large enough sample to make any conclusive results. Since it isn't harvest season yet in Arusha, it's necessary to continue going out to other villages who have their harvest a bit earlier (why we went to Babati).
Other than jamming, the biggest issue is complaints of thread ware, since if it occurs, the machine is completely unusable. It is very hard to pinpoint the problem because it could take maybe 30 sacks of maize or 1000 for any thread ware to occur! Jamming could be causing the thread ware or it may be machining in China. Since we're not here for much longer, Colin and I are trying to summarize all the things that need to be looked at and figure out the best ways to do solid testing when more corn is available.
SUPRISE!!! I'm ENGAGED!
Sneaky Colin made a wooden ring prior to heading over to join me in Tanzania. He stored it in a sock so I wouldn't find it and decided Zanzibar was the right place to bring it out. It turns out it was :) ! It is safe to say I wasn't expecting it, but I couldn't have asked for a better place nor a better person to enjoy such an important moment in my life.
We were living luxuriously for the night, trying out the Tembo Hotel in Stone Town. One of our neighbors suggested it , although was a bit "pricey,"we decided to go for a beach front room (a whopping $100) . One of the balconies was empty so we went out to watch the sunset- Zanzibar proved to have the most beautiful sunsets every single night. As I was leaning against the balcony wall casually chatting, all of a sudden a ring was in front of me! And of course I said yes :) Colin was so nervous that he forgot to get on one knee, but I didn't even realize it until he brought it up later that night! I was also filled in that he had asked my mom and dad for approval prior to leaving. I can't believe my mom kept it a secret... she was pretty relieved when she heard and could let it out! He also showed me a picture of the ring I'd be getting when we are back in the US, it is too beautiful. I am so lucky to have Colin in my life, two beautiful rings, and amazing future in-laws! I can't help but think how crazy the world works with how I met him in the first place! Thank goodness for Webb ship yard winter work, the fact that I go to school on the Gulf ,and just so happened to be roommates with his high school's valedictorian freshman year...
We spent 5 days in Zanzibar exploring Stone Town, the north shore, and of course trying all of the fresh seafood at the night market! I don't think I could ever get sick of food in Zanzibar. Ocean front meals almost every night, seafood for 1/4 of the price in the U.S. and everything guaranteed fresh! It is my goal to recreate Zanzibar pizza- my new favorite treat. Unfortunately, it's more of an acquired skill and the men at the night market have it down to a T. So I'm crossing my fingers I can add it to the cookbook.
It's safe to say we were on tourist mode when we were in Zanzibar, just enjoying being there without the stress of work and busy Arusha life! Parasailing, snorkeling and a spice tour were all squeezed in and made for an even more memorable trip!
So, here is the official cookbook cover and table of contents, along with some very delicious food we've cooked up so far! Having Colin here now (He arrived June 28th) is extra nice because when my hands are covered in flour or fruit juice, he can be taking pictures and writing recipes down. The first few weeks were a bit hectic, especially when the idea of "measuring ingredients" wasn't a necessary thing to Farida and mama. Now they know and Colin brought over some more cooking utensils to make it all easier (Thanks mom and Linda for sending them over with him!).
Today, Daniel, Colin, and I left cooking temporarily to give a quick talk for the Engineering World Health students about what we've been up to and how GCS was started. It was really nice visiting TCDC again and reminiscing about my Swahili and technical classes last summer. We brought them some maandazi to try - the "doughnuts" in the slide show above, which definitely was a crowd pleaser :D Then heading back to Makumira to continue our cooking "lesson" of the day, we ended finishing 6 recipes - most definitely a record breaking day!
I've also been showing Colin around so we spent the past two weekends playing with babies at Cradle of Love, visiting the Meserani snake park, and the Arusha Cultural Center
My title is a quote from my mama, another one that holds true for almost everything, but mainly celebrations and dala dala rides! Just today I ended up having to stand, completely squished between 6 others standing along with the lucky 18 that got "seats." Since I couldn't see anything out the windows I completely missed my stop (usually the conductors call out stops... but he didn't call mine!), so when I finally told him "Susha Quarters" he looked at me funny and that's when I realized I had some walking to do! Luckily for me, it wasn't dark yet and there was a beautiful view of Mt. Meru as I wandered home.
The days are just flying by and Njiro is starting to feel more and more like home! Aside from occasionally not having power and every once in a while no water (land lord issues), everything is good! I went with Jim out to a Maasai farm where they were trying out conservation agriculture techniques along with a planting method in bags. It was nice taking a break from being in the city and spending a day where the only thing to hear is tall grass and corn stalks brushing up against each other in the wind.
To gain a better understanding of the milling process here, I took another field trip, aka a 45 minute walk behind our house, to find some local mills in a nearby village. We were trying to get a good grasp on how long maize is soaked before being processed through the machines and if it made a great difference if the kernels are dry or not when they enter.
For now with GCS and Twende, I've been gathering information on all of their products and projects, planning out what tests I can run, and have started writing a grant with Jim for his animal powered battery charger project.
Boy, did I plan this summer right... I am not only here with organizations that have amazing initiatives, but what really tops it off is the food I'm going to be cooking these next few weeks. Matoke was one of the first dishes I've learned so far and it included all of those vegetables in the first picture below - how can that not be good! I am loving the idea of spending so much time with my Tanzanian mama and Farida while cooking up some of the most delicious food I've ever had. It is going to be so excited making this cookbook and then sharing it with everyone back home. Finally, the secret will be revealed as to what you can eat here. I have already come to the conclusion that no matter the cost, I must make real, fresh juice for myself when get back to school. Avocado, orange, passion juice is something I can't wait to have until next time I return here (which who knows when that will be!)
" If you love something, take care of it, and it will last"
To love - to take care - to last
A much better version of the acronym "KKK" was referred to at my first church service in Tanzania. It holds true for almost anything- your body, a relationship, or even a car.
I think it's good to keep in mind!
Starting with a long church service and then an afternoon party, my second Sunday here was filled with celebration for my mama's eldest brother's 70th birthday! Being the only mzungu there, I was introduced to so many people and was able to meet a lot of my mama's family! It was super neat being able to see the traditions for big occasions like this. For cutting the cake, her brother cut the first piece and was fed a small piece of cake by his wife. Then, all of their closest relatives had to go up to the front to receive a bite of cake before everyone else. After eating the entire rest of the family was introduced and I was then called to introduce myself in front of everyone in Swahili- I think they enjoyed my broken attempt :)
We now have a tentative schedule set for cooking. Farida, mama, and I meet on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from around 10 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. It takes so long to cook most of the dishes we've done so far, especially when we use the traditional coal stove rather than gas, and not to mention buying all the ingredients fresh that day! It's safe to say though... the time is definitely worth it, yum!!!
Go to www.kupikiatanzania.com for all the details on my cookbook!!!