Friday, August 20, 2010

Video

Hey Everyone. If you're interested, we made a video to go along with the presentation. Here is the link if you'd like to watch it before then!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKTSjje49mg


Monday, August 16, 2010

Last Post

Hey everyone..


Apologies for not posting pictures. We haven't been able because of super slow internet connections. However, we are preparing for our presentations in South Dakota (this saturday), Alaska (next week), and Minnesota (probably two in the next 4 - 8 weeks).

We'll be announcing the times and locations as soon as they come up.

Thanks again for reading.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Finished!

We've finished the project and left the village. We're going to have a little R&R for a while. But, for the next couple of days, we're going to start working on posting pictures from the project. While we were writing about it, it was probably sometimes difficult to actually understand what we were talking about. So, we're going to start working on that. Even though the project is finished, we're still going to keep posting a little more.

The next post will have the pictures. It's breakfast time and I'm hungry!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

So much time

In Swahili, they say, “You have the watch, but we have the time.” This is meant to convey that while the western world runs around frantically trying to keep up with their schedule and perception of time, the East Africans don’t worry that it’s 3:23 p.m. and they have to get to a meeting in 7 minutes. We’ve somewhat fallen into this schedule of having time, but no watch: we wake up a little after the sun; we eat when we’re hungry, and we get tired when the sun sets. This is how it is outside of the large cities.

In the cities, there has been an increased trend to follow the western lifestyle from clothes to business to architecture. However, this model is not always best for everyone.

In reading Jeffrey Sachs, “The End of Poverty,” while he is not 100% correct, he did hit the nail on the head with one thing. In his book, he said that economic reforms need to be tailored to every individual country, and large international organizations and western governments cannot force a one-size-fits-all solution. Likewise, development and culture are not a one-size-fits all. Examples that thrive of the deviation from the western norm include the musical styles that you hear around the world. While Lady Gaga beats permeate the radio waves from sea to sea, there are local artists who would be on a level higher than her, as for popularity.

This mentality of tailoring modernity to local customs is something that SANA has taken into account. SANA is a the non-profit company we mentioned in the last post, which stands for Saving Africa’s NAture. In Swahili, the word “sana” roughly means “very.” If you throw it on the end of any word or phrase it intensifies it’s meaning, in the sense that “Karibu” means “welcome” but “Karibu sana” means that you are “very welcome.” When you’re expressing your sorrow for someone if they stubbed their toe, you say “pole” (pronounce poh-lay), however, if a goat pooped on their foot while you were talking, you would say, “pole sana.”

Yesterday, we were able to see some of the work that SANA is doing. In the park, between 20 and 30 km away (about an hour driving on the dirt roads, some of which are very washed out), they have acquired some land from the local village. With hopes of opening in September, the lodge will be a retreat with the idea of being a very (or sana) spiritual place connected with nature. The entire place is being built with local materials, the only non-local material is the bolts which hold up the roofs. The water will be collected from the rain, the waste from the bathroom will be turned into manure to fertilize the area around it, the soap will all be environmentally friendly and biodegradable, and more. Visitors will be required to pay a small fee to use the land (maybe a couple dollars), and that money will go back to the village that has leased the land to the lodge/retreat.

This is just one of the many projects that this organization is working on to support and preserve nature. Thankfully, they are not only working to save the forests, but they are also working with villagers to improve their livelihood and help them to understand the importance of their forests. They are also working on agricultural projects that would work to both feed families and provide a small income for the women who are growing the produce. I think this is very important, because there are so many times that we see large environmental organizations coming into an area they know very little about to save nature and whatnot, only to harm the livelihood of the people who live there. This has happened in Alaska several times and is very disappointing and disheartening. While I do love the environment, I do not like it when it comes at the cost of human lives. There is always a middle ground that can be found, but often times it gets lost in some injunction or another. SANA has successfully found this middle ground.

We were brought to this project because of our water project that works to conserve water. Our project harvests a natural supply of water without impeding on water available to plants and animals around. The ground that would have taken this water has a school built on top of it, so no worries (or omna shida) there. As for the project update, today is the last day of construction, the pipes will be connected from the gutters to the tanks, and small platforms to fill the water buckets will be made. We’re having a party tomorrow, and then leaving the village on Saturday morning.

Asante sana for reading!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Greek Inspiration

Sometimes in life, you have the opportunity to meet really inspirational people. The kind of people who make you a little jealous of their life, but also ready to live your own to see what amazing things you can do. That happened on Saturday.

On July 22, Logan and I went to the Saadani Safari Lodge (really expensive place) to have both a gin and tonic and a nice dinner. While we were there, we met the owner/manager, Mark, a man we had been e-mailing back and forth with for sometime, but hadn’t had a chance to meet. We talked a while about our project, but business called us away, and we didn’t see him again until we were leaving after dinner.

The next day, there was a politician in town running for election, and we gathered in the crowed in the middle of the village to see what was going on. At that time, a man came up to us and started talking to us, his name was Kostas and he is a business partner with Mark. He invited us to dinner the following night at the lodge to discuss conservation issues in Saadani Park.

The next night, we sat at a table with 17 others among them were tourists, researchers, and individuals that worked at the hotel, all who were interested in conservation issues. We sat next to Kostas and his lady friend, which turned out to be both education and very very interesting. I say interesting because Kostas and his friend are both Greek, and they would sometimes chatter away in greek, bickering about something endearingly. You could tell these two had a long history together because they knew the other’s arguments inside and out. However, listening to both of them was very inspirational, and a simple question had the capability of setting either off lasting 10 minutes. But because they are both so dynamic, you’d forget that you hadn’t said anything more.

One of these questions we asked to Kostas was, “How long have you been in Saadani?” This prompted him to talk about his life story. He was born in Burundi, and has been moving around East Africa to all the National Parks for a long time and arrived in Tanzania for the first time in ‘94. He told us about his adventures around Tanzania until he was marooned in the southern part of the country with a group of researchers he happened upon. While in their company, one man asked if he had been to the place where elephants swim in the ocean. This is when he made his was to Saadani, when it was still a game reserve.

From that time, he has never left Saadani. He is now a manager (of some sort, not exactly sure of his title) of a very nice lodge, and has started a non-profit company, LTD. This company takes the profits it makes and re-invests it into the community of Saadani. The village is not the only benefactor of this generosity. He is currently working on building a lodge nearby that will protect a religious site and prevent a developer from coming in and building a hotel on the hill of the site.

The entire time he spoke about his life and his plans, he had to keep reminding me, “Bon appetite! Bon appetite.” The food was delicious, and I would start to eat it while still listening to him.

For a young person like me, meeting and hearing the story of someone like Kostas is extremely inspirational. It continually reminds me that often times, you just have to live your life, and things will happen to you. You can’t always make your life awesome or interesting, it just happens. For me, at this point in my life, this is especially important because I am trying to figure out what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. What should I study in grad school? In what direction do I want to start taking my life (career-wise)? Where should I live? What am I interested in? Etc, etc, etc. I have hope that I am going in the right direction, even though I have no idea where that direction is pointing yet.

Logan (about the whole post): Ditto

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Watoto (children)

A rock is only a rock if you call it a rock. However, it magically turns into the most delicious candy if you call it pipi (Swahili for candy). Everywhere we go the kids always say “I want candy” or “I want money” or “I want this” and “I want that.” So, I started mocking them, and we never actually give them any of the things we asked for. Because we’ve been here for a while, they’ve pretty much stopped asking us for things. Although, not completely.

Yesterday, Mr. Paolo was working on doing cement for the stands. Logan and I really couldn’t help out, and they had some extra hands helping out. We just watched. A few kids came over after a while, including one mischievous little girl wearing a gray dress. She poked her head around the corner and said, “Naomba pipi.” Or “Give me candy.” I looked at her and said in Swahili, “No, go away.” She hung around for a little while and kept saying it.

While she was saying it, I was sitting on the ground where one of the rocks that had been used for the foundation of the tank stand had been broken open. We were using really pretty rocks that had been laying around the school construction site, and the crystals were broken up into small pieces. So, I decided to mess with the little girl and play a trick on her. I grabbed the little rocks, got up and started walking over to her, to give her the “pipi.” She freaked out and started running away. I think she may have thought I was going to bop her on the head for being a brat (which we have done once or twice with particularly bratty kids). Because she ran away, I turned around to the other kids that were still standing there and started giving them the rocks one by one, each time sayings “pipi… pipi…” She kept running back to me sticking out her hand, and every time I tried to give her a rock, she ran away again. One of the kids Gidi (short for Gideon) took the “pipi” and popped it in his mouth. I kept giving him more and more and he kept putting the rocks in his mouth. He knew they were rocks, but I think he enjoyed, as much as me, teasing the little girl who was being annoying.

After a few minutes, she figured out that they were rocks, but she still wanted one. At the same time, one of the older men who was also standing around watching the cementing process started to holler at the kids telling them (what I’m assuming) was to get lost. I walked over to the man and showed him the “pipi.” He got a good chuckle out of it.

Anyway, we’re still working on the stands. We’re putting the top coat of cement on the stands, but we can only do one stand a day. Mr. Paolo says we’ll be done by Friday. When the project finishes, we have decided to have a big party with the people that helped. Mr. Paolo is buying a goat for us today, and he’s going to keep It at his house until next week, and we’re ordering soda and beer. That means we’ll probably be leaving first thing (~5AM) on Saturday to head to Zanzibar for the beginning of vacation time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A logistical post (nothing to do with statistics, sorry Chris)

So, we realized that we might not have fully explained the project to everyone. We just keep talking about all the other stuff that has been going on, but we’re not sure if we fully explained the project in detail.

Originally, we wanted to do a well, but that proved to have too many problems. With the help of our Tanapa friends, we decided to put a rainwater collection system on the primary school buildings. The primary school was chosen because it is now completely new, and the roofs don’t have any paint on them.

For the project, we have purchased 8 sim tanks. Each tank holds 5000 L, so we’ll be able to provide the village with 40,000 L of clean water. To catch the water, we are putting gutters on the building, and funneling the water to the tanks. We have been told that one good rain will fill them up pretty quickly.

After three days, we have completed all of the gutters, and we’re working on building the stands for the tanks. We are going to have four stands, each stand will have two tanks. This is why we’re digging the holes. We’ve dug these holes down two feet in the ground, then filled them partially with sand. After that, we put large square cinder-like blocks in there around the edge of the circle, and cemented them together, then put another layer on top. We’re not sure, but they might put three layers. After they put the three layers, then they’re going to fill the middle of the circle with the sand/cement mixture to make the stand.

The reason that we are digging, and putting sand in the holes is because the ground around here changes a lot between dry and rainy season. In the rainy season, the ground expands, and during the dry season, the ground contracts, cracks, and gets smaller. If you build without a foundation of sand that provides a buffer to these changes, the structure (building, sim tank stand, etc) will get cracks in it’s when the ground changes. Within a few years, you will have to tear it down and rebuild it because the cracks will cause it to be structurally unsound.

We’re currently working on three of the stands right now. The fourth will be built on top of the foundation of the old school, so we don’t have to worry about that one. After we build the sim tank stands, we should be finished. We’re hoping to be finished in the next week or so, and after that we’re going to have some vacation time in Zanzibar and in Mwanza on Lake Victoria in Western Tanzania.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Construction has begun

First Day – The first day of construction, we didn’t do too much, but we did saw some wood for Mr. Paulo, and pounded some nails into boards. The children were fascinated with the wazungus doing work, and they made their fascination evident in the 15+ strong audience we had while we were working.

Second Day – (Saturday) When we showed up on Saturday morning, Mr. Paulo had drawn an oval in the ground, about 8 ft long by 5 ft wide (for building the stands for the tanks that will hold the water). Then, he told us that we had to dig two feet down. Within this circle, there were several ant holes with little ants buzzing all over the ground (which probably attributed to those mysterious bites that popped up on our legs during the day). The kids, like the day before, were equally as fascinated and insisted on helping us. We let them use the shovels, but one kid kept going for the pick. He does not know what the word “No” means, even when spoken in his own language. The kids were around us throughout the day. In the afternoon, a few villagers came to help us, including a woman Mr. Paulo dubbed Mama Axe for her skills with the pick axe. By around 5 p.m. We finally finished the hole and were dripping sweat. I, Monica, was so covered in dirt I joked with a few Tanzanians that I looked like them now. I quickly showered and we had dinner.

Third day – Today was a cloudy day (Thank God – Alhamdoulillah), and it started raining! On the second day, Mr. Paulo had finished the gutters on the first building, also the biggest. The little drizzle that was coming from the sky was enough to fill up the gutters to produce a tiny little trickle coming out of the pipes. We celebrated by filling up a water bottle and drinking it! Then, we showed the bottle of water to a few people in the village saying it was the “first bottle of water from the rain.” The afternoon has been pretty easy because we only filled the holes halfway with sand. The next step is to fill them the rest of the way with stone, but we don’t have the rock to put in the holes yet. Mr. Paulo is working on the gutters, and all the wood has been cut, so there really isn’t much to do.

That’s all the work we’ve done for now. A lot is getting done and we are very excited to see it happen!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The project has started

The project has officially started. They cut some wood this morning, or something. Logan got back from Dar last night, and was excited to see the sim tanks near the primary school this morning.

I missed this, but was told by Sebastian that when the truck arrived, a bunch of people from the village all gathered around to help unload the truck. Apparently, they didn’t really believe the wazungus were going to be actually doing this project until the truck showed up.

This morning (Friday) we started the project. We showed up at the school where one man was cutting some wood. Then, the bureaucratic process began. The school is still under construction, and the contractor of the school project must have his say in the project. Thus, construction has yet to begin, and we’re currently renegotiating the budget to possibly add more. But, we’re getting to the point where there is no more money available.

The original plan was to put two sim tanks on each of the four buildings, totaling eight. Now, they’re thinking about putting four tanks on two buildings. But, this will up the budget a couple hundred thousand shillings. Not going to happen.

The reason why we even thought about changing the first plan was because one of the buildings had paint on its roof, and according to this website (http://www.okinternational.org/lead_paint_background.html) Tanzania is one of the countries that still sells lead paint for painting homes. I really don’t want to gamble with lead poisoning in this village. So we’ve just made a few changes to exclude the painted roof.

Logan:
Hey all! I’m back safely from Dar! I’m so glad to be back. That place is too crazy for me. Sometimes I get very frustrated with how some of the people see tourists just as something to exploit for money. I just have to remember that most of the people aren’t like that. It’s just that those few people are the ones that are easiest to pay attention to (think of many prominent radio hosts in the US). Because of this, some tourists come here and leave, only remembering, “My god, the streets are full of thieves!” I’ve been avoiding this mindset and trying to remember that there are thieves in every country, it’s just that the thieves that live in America live in their multi-million dollar homes, so you won’t find them in the streets (oops… was that too much?).

Anyways, as Monica said, all the equipment is here and the people in the village are happy to see it. I am too, because it means that the multi-thousand dollar wire transfer we made the other day went where it was intended to go. Yay! Also, we can start our project! Today we put some nails in some boards and also sawed a bunch of boards for the gutter fittings. Tomorrow, we’re going to dig big ol’ holes for the cement water tank stands. I took pictures and I’ll post them when I have the opportunity. Thanks for tuning in!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Short post

Hey All!

Logan is currently in Dar es Salaam with the contractor and a representative of the village. He called to tell me that everything is looking good. He'll be back tomorrow (thursday). The truck will either be arriving tonight (wednesday) or tomorrow with Logan. We're excited to get the project started. We've had a lot of down time, and planning going on, but it's finally time to do what we're supposed to be doing.

I finished a book today, called "Desperately seeking paradise: Journeys of a skeptical muslim." It's a very interesting book about a moderate muslim scholar and his explorations of different sects of Islam, how they interpret the Koran, and how he believes the Koran should be interpreted. He's written a bunch of books about this topic and the future of Muslims and Muslim societies throughout the world. Very very interesting. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in contemporary Islamic studies.

That's all for now. We'll have a better progress update tomorrow when Logan gets back and is able to talk about the trip to Dar.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Progress and Bonus Photo


Hi there! Above, I've included a bonus photo above that I took early in the morning one day.

Here's the progress report:

The project is coming along very well. Yesterday, we had the final planning meeting to finalize everything. Construction should actually start by this coming weekend! We finally found transportation for a reasonable cost. Today we initiated a wire transaction to a bank account in Tanzania from which we will pay for our contractor, supplies, and transportation. As soon as that money arrives, the contractor, the head school teacher, and I will take an overnight trip to Dar es Salaam to pay the supplier in person. After the transaction is complete, the supplies should come to Saadani the next day. Great!

It has taken Monica and I a lot of work and a lot of patience to get this far. We are very happy that the ball is now rolling. We really look forward to helping out during construction as well!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Oranges are green

One thing I’ve learned as I’ve traveled to a few countries in this world is that some things are the same and not everything is different. Then there is the area between, things that remind you of home.

I have a sickness that has plagued me for the last 6 months: homesickness. It really didn’t make a difference if I was in Minnesota, South Dakota or Tanzania, I just really missed Dutch Harbor. I’ve been homesick for a while now. This disease has caused me to become somewhat of an anthropologist, in the sense that I compare and contrast every iota to the existence that I know best, living in Dutch Harbor.

There are the little things that are the same: the ocean is still blue, the grass is still green, and small town life is the same (if there is a new person in town, we know the color of their shoes 20 minutes after the plane landed).

There are the big things that are different that remind you you’re “not in Dutch Harbor anymore.” Things like: that racial rainbow is gone, and you’re the main attraction of all the village children, seeking candy, crying “wazungu” (foreigner), that whole language thing, manners, accidently pounding with the left hand, and green oranges.

While green oranges may not initially strike one as a major cultural difference, you’d be surprised. I say this because green oranges remind me of the one thing that is different in every country I’ve visited so far, and that is food. It doesn’t matter if you’re only going to McDonald’s in London… oh, bad example.

But my experience with food has been interesting. There have been times when all I wanted were buffalo wings in Egypt, or applesauce in Senegal, but it just wasn’t possible. Instead, I learned to love the food I found. Since being in Tanzania, I’ve been [probably] clinically overdosing on the quantity of rice consumed. However, a surprise that I’ve found is that I really really like ugali, which has a similar consistency to polenta.

Before coming to Tanzania, I had the honor of listening to Logan gush about all the foods we were going to eat and how much he loved chapatti. When I got here, my body was so overloaded on starch and carbs, I could barely digest the stuff. But after a few weeks, I love it too. When we go to the village for breakfast (some days we just eat in our hut), we always have two chapatti and chai (tea).

Now, it’s time to talk about chai. When visiting Turkey, I had caffeine withdrawals from my daily 3 or 4 cups of coffee. But during this time, I grew to love Turkish çay (pronounced chai). Turkish çay is very sweet (mostly sugar). After leaving Turkey and going to Morocco, the mint tea that everyone had was as equally stocked full of sugar, and only once or twice did I have a café au lait (90% lait – milk). When we went to Egypt, I was distraught to find a lack of tea, but thus began my love of instant coffee. After drinking Nescafe for 6 weeks, I have an appreciation of instant coffee that I will never loose. I share one of my most memorable travel moments with Nescafe. I was traveling in Israel with my friend, Justin, in Dec 2007. We decided to stay at Ein Gedi, a bump-in-the-road town near Masada on the Dead Sea. I woke up on Christmas Eve morning, went out to our little balcony and sat there drinking my instant coffee looking at the morning sun from the east on the Dead Sea. And with my host family in Senegal, I was more than overjoyed to find a tin of Nescafe sitting next to my half-loaf of French bread and slice of Laughing cow.

Between the instant coffee and super sweet tea, I have discovered both new vices and new comforts while traveling. These comforts always make traveling a little easier. Sometimes, all you want is AC, a hot shower, and a power outlet, but that’s not always available. When those comforts of home aren’t available, sweet tea and instant coffee will cure any homesickness and remind me why I love being on the road so much. And surprisingly, even though the oranges are green, they are still succulent.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Something Interesting from my Reading

Currently I am reading Pathologies of Power, by Paul Farmer. I found a passage that may be interesting and relevant to any health professionals reading our blog in South Dakota. Paul Farmer commonly refers to his experience in rural Haiti, but I found the following passage very relevant to healthcare in Pine Ridge:

"Certainly, patients may be noncompliant, but how relevant is the notion of compliance in rural Haiti? Doctors may instruct their patients to eat well. But the patients will "refuse" if they have no food. They may be told to sleep in an open room and away from others, and here again they will be "noncompliant" if they do not expand and remodel their miserable huts. They may be instructed to go to a hospital. But if hospital care must be paid for in cash, as is the case throughout Haiti, and the patients have no cash, they will be deemed "grossly negligent.""

I often hear people blaming poor health outcomes in Pine Ridge on the "agency of the patient." It is interesting and important, I believe, to take into account this alternate perspective.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Politics, as usual (?)

There is an election in Tanzania in October… surprise! We were unaware of this until it was recently explained to us by Grace, that every time there is an election in Tanzania, all projects cease.

The opposition party promises they’ll do the projects, while the incumbents are worried about retaining their seats, so the projects do not get started. If the incumbents start a project, then the opposition party accuses them of planning to do so before the election to gain popularity.

And we have been caught in the middle. We were told that some individuals in the village thought that our water project was a political move by the powers that be, and they were against it.

In this election cycle, EVERYONE will be voted on. All the way down to our friend Juma, the executive officer. Every now and then, this fact is brought to our attention, and it is a little disheartening.

Project Update: The last thing we’re trying to figure out is how to pay for transportation. We’re trying to find the most inexpensive means of transportation. We have about 500 leftover in the budget, and we’re not sure if this would be enough to hire a driver and do everything in one haul. Because of this fact, we’re looking at borrowing a truck from the district (depending on size), and we’d only have to pay for the fuel.

Other than that, we are able to buy all of the supplies from one company in Dar es Salaam, and then we’ll start the project. Hopefully we’ll be doing all of that within the next couple of days (2-5 days).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pictures!

Here are a few pictures we were finally able to load.


This is the old, broken-down windmill that was once used by the village. The well has gone saline and is now useless.

Here is a well found nearby the windmill. It is open and therefore susceptible to contamination. It has also gone saline, along with a number of other dugout wells in the area. Obviously, groundwater is not a sustainable option for Saadani.


This is a nearby riverbed where the residents currently get their water. As you can see, the source is completely open and very susceptible to contamination. Also, any pathogens entering the river upstream cannot be separated from the water before collection.

Yellow containers strapped to bicycles is the current method of transportation for the river water.

Here is where Monica and I are living (actually next door but there is a big tree in front of ours).

Here we are with some children from the village. We spent some time on the beach walking around with them.

Today, Monica and I had some meetings with the tourism officials and the village executive officer. We are currently negotiating the scale of the project as well as price. The first draft of the rainwater harvesting system ended up being twice the cost of our available budget. We are currently researching other options for water storage, such as a very large underground tank. Mr. Paulo (our contractor) is going to research this option so that we may compare costs. We are also trying to get contributions from the residents of Saadani and from Tanapa. These may be contributions of materials transport, labor, or money.

Other than that, Monica and I are doing well. The weather has been quite gloomy lately, but we like it because it's nice and cool ('poa' in Swahili). This morning, I got up at 6 am to take pictures of the sunrise over the Indian Ocean. It's really nice getting up early. I think I'll do it more often.

That's all for now! Baadaye (Later)!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Committee Meeting

1: Project Progress

Yesterday (Friday), Monica and I attended a village meeting at the primary school. The meeting consisted of the village committee and the water committee and was called especially to discuss what to do about the water situation in the village, given the limited available funding. The main idea to discuss was to outfit each of the new school’s roofs with a rainwater collection system. The water would be stored in 4-6 10,000-liter tanks and would only be used for drinking and applications in which water wouldn’t be boiled before consumption. The Executive Officer, the Chairman, and the School Headmaster led the meeting. Monica and I sat at the front of the room, next to the leaders. The meeting was opened by something that sounded like an oath. Monica and I stood up and introduced ourselves in Swahili and the meeting began.

From the onset of the meeting (which was held entirely in Swahili) it was easy to discern a number of differing opinions on the matter. One young man, in particular, had some very strong negative opinions of us. He was always yelling and throwing his finger in my direction with a very angry face. Everyone else in the room would put his or her heads down and laugh at him whenever he spoke, indicating that he wasn’t somebody that anybody took seriously. There was also a strong consensus that the best-case scenario would be to pull water from the Wami River, located quite a ways south of the village. Such a project would cost around 50,000 US dollars, which is obviously not in the budget. In the end, the majority agreed that the rainwater collection system would be the best option, considering the limited funding. At the close of the meeting one of the members of the village committee stood up to express the group’s appreciation for what we are doing.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

We finally have a plan.

We sorta had a plan before, but now it’s being finalized. Logan and I were on our way to lunch when we saw some Tanapa staff, the staff who had helped us on Sunday. So, we bypassed lunch and followed them. We told them the chairperson wasn’t being very helpful, and we were informed that we should be dealing with the executive officer.

A troop of children led us to the house of the executive officer, and then we began the march towards the Tanapa office. On the way, we picked up the school headmaster. The two Tanapa staff, executive officer, and headmaster chattered in Swahili for a while, stopping to explain to us every now and then what they were talking about. Angela and Sebastian (Tanapa staff) had an idea.

Apparently, the executive officer said that there was a need to drill in the Saadani National Park and then pump the water to the village. This would require surveys and a lot of money and more time than we have. So, the idea Angela and Sebastian proposed was to do a rainwater collection system off of the new primary school buildings (brand spanking new buildings). The headmaster would monitor the system and take small collections of money to sustain the system. Tanapa is currently using the same system, but privately. The water is not available for community use.

Everyone seemed to think that this idea would work, and would help solve the problem of having potable drinking water for the community. This news came after a very disappointing morning of us thinking that our project was going to fail and we were going to have to return all the money.

The community would continue to use the river water for washing clothes and cooking (because all the bacteria die when they get heated up), but the new water system would be used for drinking. They have agreed to file reports and keep us updated after we leave.

We’re finally making ins with the community, and it’s very satisfactory. I think people are starting to realize that we’re not just passing through.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First of probably many delays

Today was a bit of a disappointment. We were supposed to have our big meeting with everyone to get the project going. However, this morning, Bruno told us that he called the village chairperson who is apparently out of town until tomorrow – maybe.

We also found out that the other people we were supposed to meet with were out of town as well. On Monday, when we initially met with the chairperson, we asked if there was anything we needed to do before the meeting on Wednesday (today), but he said No. This was really out of our hands, and it is a little disappointing.

Instead, today was spent enjoying African life. We read, walked around the village, took some pictures, were asked for money and candy, and relaxed. Currently, most days seem to be spent doing this. I’m on my second book and already more than halfway done. But, I’ve been doing so much reading, I’m getting to the point of not wanting to read anymore. I fill that time with Sudoku or some other mindless task.

Anyway, we’re hoping that Thursday will be more fruitful than today.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Duck-Chicken and Lions!


Here's Monica in Mandera, waiting for our connecting bus to Saadani.

(I apologize that I was unsuccessful at posting more pictures. Our internet connection is not good at all)

Greetings Readers!

I’m going to break this up into three sections. If it works out, I might keep doing it!

1: Something Interesting from what I’m reading:


I’m currently reading Pathologies of Power by Dr. Paul Farmer, a role model of mine. In the book he quotes Chilean theologian Pablo Richard, noting the fall of the Berlin Wall:

“We are aware that another gigantic wall is being constructed in the Third World, to hide the reality of the poor majorities. A wall between the rich and poor is being built, so that poverty does not annoy the powerful and the poor are obliged to die in the silence of history.”


2: Project Progress

There wasn’t much for Monica and I to do today, as the first big meeting with the proper participants is scheduled for tomorrow. We had decided to have a beach day today, but unfortunately the weather didn’t allow it. I was even going to go around and take a bunch of pictures of the village to post on the blog. I didn’t want to get my camera wet, though. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll get that done for you all. Thanks for being patient!

3: Personal Experiences and Reflection: Lions?

Last night, Monica and I decided to head into the village to watch mpira (soccer) on one of two TVs running in town. Both TVs run on generators. At one, the service is provided for free by the Tourism Office. The other is somewhat of a local movie theatre, which charges a small admission fee to pay for operating costs. The game was Brazil vs. Chile. The vast majority of the people under the thatched hut were cheering for Brazil. Within the first half of the game Chile’s fate was practically sealed when Brazil made its second goal to Chile’s zero. Monica and I were getting tired so we decided to head back to our little cabana. Our ‘landlord’ insisted that he walk us back. He explained, “there are many good people, but there are also some bad people.” True enough, but that was only half the reason he wanted escort us. When we got to the edge of the village, at which point we still have about 300 meters to walk, he explained it’s better not to walk this stretch alone. “Thieves, out here?” I thought to myself. He then told us that on a couple occasions he has encountered lions walking between the bush and the beach! And I thought he was just being hospitable by escorting us home. That explains why the elderly guard that paces the area where we stay carries a bow and arrow. Exciting! (I think so, anyway…) I looked at Monica and joked, “Now I kinda want to see one!” She wasn’t half as amused as I was.

Oh! There’s a very very strange looking bird in this village. It looks as if it’s a hybrid of a chicken and a duck. I’ve added a picture of it above. Only recently did we find out it’s actually a type of goose! Odd.


That's all for today! Feel free to post comments, questions, or concerns! We like to hear them! Seriously!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Progress and Bao

Bao, like the bow of a boat. But that’s not the important part.

This morning, we met with the Village Chairman. Bruno, our “landlord” if you will, was our interpreter. The meeting very short, but productive. We explained why we were in the village and how much money we had available to help the village relieve it’s water crisis. He was receptive and happy to hear that we were there to help. The next step is a meeting the chairman is arranging on Wednesday between the village executives, the Tanapa staff, the Saadani Safari Lodge, and us.

Obviously, Logan and I are very inexperienced with this sort of thing, which means that we are learning a lot. One of the things that we have learned is that there is a lot that goes into a project like this, and we are just one player of many. While there are new challenges waiting around every corner, we are learning that resilience, flexibility, and determination can overcome most any obstacle. While that may sound corny and a bit cliché, it’s true.

We charge our computers at the Tanapa office during the day, and this evening, we went to fetch them. On our way there, we ran into many people, some of which were play Bao. They told us to come play with them, but we had to go to the Tanapa office first. After picking up the computers, we checked the score of the Netherlands – Slovakia game (1-0 at the time) and went to play Bao. Bao is mancala, or rather super mancala. Instead of the two rows, there are four, and no end slot for the rocks. The rules are also a little different as well. These old men were very impressive with their Bao skills. At times when they had three rocks left in their hand, they would flick their wrists, letting the rocks fly to the next three consecutive slots. After watching them for one game (while trying desperately to figure out their seemingly erratic and non-consistent game play), Logan sat down. While he didn’t choose which rocks and some of his turns were made for him, he came out victorious after his first match. Then, it was my turn. After watching the first two games, I had a pretty good handle on the rules and was able to play without too much instruction. (Remember, that we hardly speak Swahili and they hardly speak English so much of the instruction was pointing and gesturing.) I, too, emerged victorious. But they were probably just letting the wazungus win the first time around. They invited us back tomorrow evening for another round.

Afterwards we walked back to our cabana enjoying the sunset over the rest of Africa to the west.

One thing that has been very difficult for me on this trip is the maintenance of my hair. While it may sound superficial and petty, it is a constant source of agony for me. After being in Senegal, I swore that I was going to cut my hair before going overseas for any extended period of time, but now it’s actually worse. When we were in Dar, I bought super cheap shampoo and conditioner because I needed it to deal with my long hair. Like the genius I am, I left it with our host family. To wash my hair I am currently using a bar of soap and leave-in conditioner after I get out of the shower. Even with the leave-in conditioner it is a nightmare to brush my hair. Oh, yeah, and we’re taking bucket showers. I have no problem with bucket showers, it just takes this whole my-hair-is-a-pain thing to a whole new level. As I write this, Logan condescendingly uses the most popular phrase of Swahili: pole (pronounced poh-lay) which means: I’m sorry. When used condescendingly it has the sarcastic tone of “Oh, your life is so difficult.”

We shaved his head before leaving so he could avoid this problem. >:|

The first step

For the past couple of days, we have been hanging out at the Tanapa office (TAnazania NAtional PArks – In charge of tourism) to talk to the people in charge. As we mentioned before, our primary contact has been gone, and supposedly, she will be returning today (Monday) or tomorrow (Tuesday). For two days we fruitlessly waited at the Tanapa office, so we decided to send an email to the people we wished to meet with, which spurred a response.

Within hours, we were called to the office where they began questioning us. The current staff at the office doesn’t know much about our project because they hadn’t been fully informed. However, the village knew we were coming and had given us a letter of support about 4 months ago. So, the Tanapa staff had no idea why we were here, and were a little surprised that we hadn’t met with the village leaders yet. This made me a little frustrated because we had been trying to talk to them for the past two days to get information about who the village leaders were and to arrange a meeting.

While talking to the Tanapa officials about why we were there and explained our project and plan, they started to tell us about the water situation in the village. A few years ago, a survey was done to look for water near the village, and that there is even a water committee in the community that is continually trying to address the issue of water.

It’s turns out that there was a community meeting going on at that time near the primary school (100 yards from the Tanapa office), so they brought us over there and introduced us to the village executive officer and the village leader. They told us that they would come get us in the morning. So, currently, we’re sitting on the porch to our cabana waiting to be picked up to go into town and meet with the village leaders about the project.

The Tanapa officials told us some interesting things about the local village. Apparently, the community meeting they were having was to check on status of the projects. The Tanzanian government gives money to the village for small projects, and it is the job of the community to check up on the projects periodically to see the progress. These projects include small restaurants, small businesses, or fishing.

So, we’ve made a small amount of progress, and currently, the project altogether is appearing very daunting, but we will know more after our meeting with the village leaders.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Intro to Saadani

Hello Everyone!

This blog post is going to be about yesterday’s events. In the morning, we woke up and realized that our temporary guesthouse was just 50 yards from the Indian Ocean! One interesting thing was the tide. It was amazing how far out the tide was in the morning. It was about 100 meters from the shore! After walking around on the beach for a while, we decided to check out the village, its people, and the water situation. We walked two kilometers along the beach from the guesthouse to the village and went to the tourism office to meet some of our contacts there. Grace Lobora, the warden of Saadani National Park, is our main contact there, but she is away for a couple days. Instead, we spoke with two other tourism officials there. Their names were Mr. Pantaleo and Salehe. We talked for a long time about the many problems facing the village, mainly a lack of access to clean water and education.

This is the water situation: Nearby, an old windmill used to pump water into the village. Some time ago the well went saline and has since broken down. Now, the villagers take their bikes to a nearby river, which currently runs slightly below the sand on the riverbed. There, they dig about a meter into the sand and use buckets to fill old gas cans, which they strap to their bicycles and ride back to town. Our friends at the tourism office say that there is a lot of water-bourne disease in the village due to this. I promise to include pictures of these processes as soon as I can.

While speaking with Mr. Pantaleo, we picked up on some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that the water table around the village itself is actually very deep. He told us it is about 300 meters. We may have to go a kilometer further inland of the current pump. There, the water table supposedly sits at 100 meters. There we might place the borehole and an electric pump, powered by the generator at the tourism office. The water will be run to the village via a pipe to provide water to the already existing fountains placed around the town. Are you thinking, “do they have enough money for that?” The answer is: no! But wait!!! Here comes the good news: The Ministry of Water in Tanzania has budgeted about 10,000 US dollars for the tourist office to provide the villagers and tourism office with a clean source of water. Also, there is a private tourist lodge nearby that has made significant contributions to the village in the past and is likely to participate in this project as well. After combining these funds, we should have the money to complete this project.

Currently, Monica and I are busying ourselves with setting up meetings with the key players of this project: Village leaders, TANAPA (the tourist office), Saadani Safari Lodge, and ourselves. We must work very very quickly to finish this project in time, but we are confident that we will make it happen.

To switch gears a little bit: We moved from the tourist guesthouse to one that is locally owned. Our ‘landlord’s’ name is Bruno. It’s a beautiful little cabana about a seven-minute walk south of the village. I never imagined we’d be staying at such a peaceful little place while we are here, while still staying within our budget. The cabana does not have electricity or water, but we have buckets to take a shower with (the same water from the river) and candles and a kerosene lamp for the night. They are giving us a very significant discount to show their appreciation for what we are trying to do here.

The weather is warm, and Tanzania is just coming out of the rainy season, so it rains a little almost every day. Some times it is a downpour and at other times just a light sprinkle. I have met many of the old friends from the last time I was here, and it has been good.

When we get organized, we will put up pictures.

That is all for today. Until next time!

Journey to Saadani

Wow… what a day that was. On Thursday, we arrived at the bus station-area to find a bus to go to Saadani. We had a lot of items with us because we were ready to spend the next month in a village with limited resources. When we arrived, some local entrepreneurs saw the wazungus and knew they could make a buck or two, so they decided to graciously help us. (If you can’t tell, I’ll make it very plan – I’m being a little bit sarcastic right now.) Their help caused quite the headache, and they were insulted when we didn’t trust them. After about an hour with their assistance, we over paid for a bus ticket to a small village that was not Saadani.

When we arrived at the village, motorcycles offered to take us the remaining 30 kilometers. We would’ve had to hire three – not worth it. But the assured us that the bus to Saadani was coming, so we sat there and waited. A few hours later, we were kind of nervous, so Logan, in his broken Swahili asked about the bus again. They told us it would come at 11. Logan asked if they meant 11 PM (approximately 6 hours later) – they said: “No, in 30 min.” It was 4:30 pm.
AND THEN Logan remembered that the interior of Tanzania has it’s own time zone that isn’t really recorded. They are 6 hours slower than the cities and the coast. He remembered learning about this from his Peace Corps Swahili book. They start time when the sun rises. So, 11 for them, was 5 for us. Sure enough 10 minutes after 5, the bus showed up, and we ssssqqqquuueeeeeezzzeeeddd (squeezed) on to the bus. There were A LOT of people on that bus.

Night is starting to fall and Logan and I are both getting kind of nervous about trying to find the guest house with all of our bags in the dark in Saadani, where there is no electricity. However, before we get there, we have to enter the national park. We pull up to a gate, and it doesn’t appear as if anyone is around. The men all get off the bus, and one runs up to the gate house. Fortunately, there is a man sleeping inside, and he comes out to the bus with his gun. He walks around to the other side where Logan is sitting, asks his name, and then asks him to go inside. It turns out, the Saadani National Park staff were expecting us, so we had to register.
Finally, we’re on our way to the village. We are driving for about 10 minutes, and start going down a little hill, when all of a sudden, the bus stops, and everyone is staring at a truck that is blocking the road.

There is a 18-wheeler that had apparently been trying to go up the hill we were going down, but failed, went backwards and jackknifed, slamming the bag of the chassis into the bank on one side of the road, and the from on the other. There was no way our rickety bus was going to be able to get around.

Now, here comes the other problem. Our contact in Saadani is on vacation, and we don’t have the phone number to her coworker. We end up calling our contact while on vacation in Arusha, and she calls her coworker and then the coworker calls us back. By the time all of this happens, there is another park official that Logan has found, and he is going to take us in his car the rest of the way.

While sitting in the truck, Logan and I are talking about how ridiculous the entire day has been between paying too much for bus tickets, sitting in a village not knowing if we’re going to get on our bus, to the truck blocking the road to Saadani. I told Logan that this would make a good story when we returned home. And Logan said: And then a bunch of elephants stampeded across the road while we were driving. To which I responded: At this point, that wouldn’t be too far from the truth. We didn’t get elephants, but we did see about a dozen giraffes right before we got to the village, which was very cool.

We decided to stay in the Tanzania National Park guest house for the first night. When we arrived, we realized that we had eaten neither lunch nor dinner. We had been periodically snacking throughout the day, but we had been too stressed to realize how little we had eaten.
This is when I learned a valuable lesson: Do not give me a Leatherman and a can of tuna when I’m hungry and lack the knowledge of how to use a Leatherman. That was the most delicious can of tuna I have probably ever eaten. Then we went to bed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Almost Ready!

Mambo!

We’ve been in Dar es Salaam for a couple days now, making preparations for Saadani and getting acclimated. We have decided to leave Dar for Saadani on Thursday the 24th.
When we first got here, we were extremely tired and extremely jet-lagged, but now, we’re staying awake past 8 pm, which is an accomplishment. The first couple days we hung out with the host family, visited the university and walked around the neighborhood area getting situated.

Here, in Dar, EVERYONE has been watching the World Cup. Naturally, we have been too and got quite into it. One of the days, we were taking a dala dala (public transport – minibus) from campus to somewhere else and we met another mzungu (foreigner). We started talking, and she invited us to watch the football (or soccer) game with her and some of her friends of the US vs Slovenia at a bar. We watched the game, and were bummed to see the US down by two, but then came back! We scored three goals, but on of the ref’s didn’t count the last goal, some bogus foul or something. The ref never explained it and the US didn’t win. However, that ref was let go of from reff-ing more games.

We’ve also been doing some touring around the area on our own savings:

On Saturday, we went to a museum and the city center of Dar. We visited the fish market and walked around. We had an INSANE lunch too. We went to one of the little restaurants that don’t actually have menus, and while we couldn’t fully understand the waitresses (half of whom appeared to be drunk – we saw them drinking beer and stumbling around, so this is not an unfounded claim), we knew that they were arguing over how much to charge the wazungos (foreigners).

On Sunday, we went to Makumbusho, or the Village Museum, for a world music festival. We were a bit disappointed by the first bands, but they got infinitely better as the night went on, and we even got up to dance during the reggae band.

On Monday, we made an attempt to go to an island off the coast that is north of the city, but we got a bit of a late start on the day, and we ended up staying on the beach at the White Sands hotel.

Today and tomorrow, we will be finishing our preparations for the village, and tonight we are going to watch the France vs South Africa game. Tomorrow the US will be playing Algeria, and on Thursday, we will finally make the trek to the village. We are excited to get the project going, and they are anticipating our arrival in the village.

Later, we’ll post some photos of our adventures around Dar from the last few days. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The journey to Dar

Okay, time for a real post!

We left Rapid City, flew to Denver, then Houston and caught a red eye to Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, we had a 12 hour layover, so we went and explored the city a little bit. Don’t worry, we didn’t go to a coffee shop. We did, however, walk to Dam Plaza, saw the free parts of the Amsterdam Historical Museum, and went to the Rijksmuseum. Although, I think we only saw a fraction of it, because it looked like the rest of the building was under construction. After that we went to the Van Gogh museum.

At this point, extremely jet-lagged, we ended up laying on the grass outside of the Van Gogh museum for 30 minutes or so, to rejuvenate. We walked back to the central station and went to a bar in the airport and had a Heineken from the tap. This is important because Heineken is from originally from Amsterdam!

Monica – As I travel, I like to do quirky things like: Turkish delights in Turkey, eat a Frankfurter in Frankfurt, fish and chips in England, New York Cheesecake in New York, and couscous in Morocco! Now, I’ve had a Heineken in Amsterdam.

I, Monica, slept on the floor of the Amsterdam airport because I was so tired. We landed in Nairobi at 6 am-ish. And found bus tickets that left around 830 am-ish. Unfortunately, we basically bought tickets from “scalpers” if you will, and for the 6 hour bus ride from Nairobi to Arusha (in Tanzania), we were stuck in the crappy little fold-out seats in the middle aisle. :|

In Arusha, a bunch of people got off, so we switched to some real seats. We arrived in Moshi, and found a hotel to stay the night in. We went to bed around 715 pm, and woke up at 7 am the next day. Moshi is at the base of Kilimanjaro, but it was cloudy, so I only go to see the base, and the tiptop that was above the clouds. The next morning, we bought real bus tickets with real seats and made the 8 hour drive the Dar.

When we arrived at the bus stop, Logan told me that it would cost 7000 Tanzanian Shillings (TSH) to get from the bus station to the house. The first taxi driver was trying to get Logan for 10,000 TSH. Logan got off the bus first to watch for our bags being taken off, and I was one of the last people to get off the bus. When I got off, a man asked me if I needed a taxi, I said yes, and asked how much. He immediately said 7000, so I told him we’d got with him. When I told Logan, the other taxi driver didn’t look to happy, but he reluctantly came down to 7000.

Next, we came to the host-family Logan had last time he was here, and we were welcomed in to the house. After a snack, I crashed until dinner. After dinner, I slept all night till the morning.

I think we’re definitely done with jet-lag right now, but the Malaria pills are giving me crazy dreams! Also, I have a siesta every day. That’s probably from caffeine withdrawals though.

Tomorrow, we’ll write more about being in Dar and our plans for the next week.


PS. We now have the USB internet thingy so we'll have more access to internet now.

Friday, June 18, 2010

We're in Dar!

After hours upon hours of travel, we're finally in Dar es Salaam! I'll put some pictures of our travel time up so you can see us at different locations along the way. This will be another short post, but we promise to give you something with a little more meat very very soon.


Here we are, on the plane in Rapid City!



Here we are in Amsterdam during our 12 hour layover.




Here is Monica, on the bus from Nairobi to Moshi.



Here is the view from our hotel in Moshi. Notice Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background!



Here we are on the bus from Moshi to Dar es Salaam.


Here is the view from the bus.


Here is Monica at the Hill Park Restaurant. It's one of my favorite places to get a drink at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Here is Monica at our host family's dinner table. Looks like breakfast time. Yum!

That's it for now! We promise we'll give you some more info soon!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Karibu!

Hello Everyone!

Our internet is limited and slow (took about 10 minutes to check email), but we're in Dar es Salaam. It's sunny and warm, and we're with the host family. We're working on getting wireless internet to our computers via one of those little USB thingys. After that, we'll write more about the LOOONNNNGGGG journey to Dar from Rapid. Especially the bus part from Nairobi to Dar. We'll write more later. :D

PS. We saw baby monkeys today on the University campus!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Denver!

Hello All!!

Monica and I are currently sitting in the Denver International Airport, waiting for our flight to Houston. We've got a bit of a layover so I thought I'd put in a short post. This morning, we woke up at 5:30 am to get to the airport by 6:30. Turns out that if we were 15 minutes later, they wouldn't have let us on the plane, due to more strict regulations for international flights. Mom dropped us off and it was a sad parting. We'll be back in a few months though, so it's ok. Well, we have 12 hours in Amsterdam after Houston so Monica and I are going to plan out out side-vacation!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

24 hour countdown!




Tomorrow morning, at 545 AM Mountain time, our alarm clocks will beep and buzz, waking us up for the first day of our big adventure.
Today, we're making the final preparations. One of these preparations: Logan's Hair. :)

The first picture is with only the top cut off.. needless to say, I thought it was hilarious.





And the end result...


Other things we're working on are laundry, last minute packing, and cleaning up our mess downstairs in the Stuck residence. (It was super messy because not only are we packing for Tz, but we're also packing for the apartment in the fall in Mpls.)

Tonight, Terri is taking both Logan and myself out to dinner - The last supper, if you will.

So, here is the plan for tomorrow. We're going to be flying from Rapid City to Denver, Denver to Houston, Houston to Amsterdam, then FINALLY Amsterdam to Nairobi, Kenya. (You might be thinking: Wait a sec, they're going to TANZANIA, not KENYA. What is this?) Well, we saved $1000 on tickets by flying to Nairobi, and we'll be taking the bus down to Dar es Salaam. We should get to Dar sometime on Tuesday night or Wednesday. In the meantime, internet will be limited. Do not be alarmed if we do not post anything. I told my dad we got kidnapped if I don't call him for a week. But, I don't anticipate that happening. :)

When we get into Dar, we'll be staying with Logan's host family near the University of Dar es Salaam. Logan had a homestay with them in 2008 during his ACM program, and they are opening their home to us for the week that we are in Dar making some final preparations.

Today is a day of lasts for the next couple months: Last hot shower for a while (if Tz is anything like Senegal, then definitely last hot shower for a while), last cup of coffee with soy milk (probably not a lot of soy in Tz - I drink soy not to be pretentious, but because I have a milk allergy), last cloudy day (weather in Rapid City hasn't been too fantastic), and other lasts that I probably haven't realized yet.

That's all for now, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Saadani 2008





Hi everyone! This is my (Logan) first post. Thank you all so much for your support and for watching our blog.

For my first post I thought I'd talk a little about the first time I visited Saadani Village. It was in the Fall semester of 2008 with an academic, study abroad program called ACM Tanzania. Our group spent a lot of time at the University of Dar es Salaam and in National Parks in the north. We also spent a month doing research at a rural hospital near the Ngorongoro Crater.

Sometime in the middle of the program, two others and I decided to take a week and visit Saadani National Park. At fist we camped in a tent about a half a mile out of the village. We later moved into the town and stayed at the local guest house, where we will most likely stay during the Saadani Water Project. During my time there I grew very attached to the village, particularly the school children. One night, we were invited to Siri's (a local) home for dinner. He was a very friendly man. Inspirational, in fact. Siri was a fisherman by trade and he would get up every day at 4 AM to pull in the shrimp nets and spend the rest of the day fishing to provide his family with food to eat. Even so, his family prepared a wonderful meal for us which filled our stomachs to the brim.

The children in the village were also very charming. One day, we played a soccer match with all the boys at the school. I hope the teachers didn't mind because as soon as we showed up at the school all the kids darted out of the classroom and into the field. My friends and I made good friends with four of the boys, in particular. They were Juma, Winjuma, Hamisi, and to my shame I cannot remember the name of the fourth. They became our entourage for the rest of the time that we were there.

By the time we had to return to Dar es Salaam, we had made many friends. While I had grown very attached to the people there, I also developed a deep concern for their well being. Many things troubled me during my stay there: their water was dirty; their doctor was gone for a month; the school was unfinished and falling apart; there was no electricity; etc, etc. These observations compelled me to make a promise to myself that I would return there one day to try my best to make a difference in their lives. That's just what Monica and I are doing. But we aren't just doing it to satisfy some guilt and then call it good and turn our backs. For me, this is just the beginning.

Whew, it's bed time so I'll leave it at that for tonight. :) Above I've posted a picture of Siri, a picture of myself and some of the boys at the school, and a picture of the village.

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, June 4, 2010

A few pictures

Logan took these photos the last time he was in Sadaani. Logan was there in the Fall of 2008 for a visit.






An update on our preparations: Yesterday, we went to Safeway during Lunch and we happened to check the school section, and sure enough, chalk and frisbees were super cheap. We bought 6 boxes of chalk to give to the teachers (both white AND colored) and a few more frisbees. In addition to bringing some footballs (soccer balls) to the kids in Sadaani, we're going to teach them how to play frisbee. Logan is convinced that the kids will love frisbee. I sure hope so too.

We went to Target and Scheels two days ago to get ready for the camping part. We bought a mosquito net, Dr. Bronner's Soap (environmentally friendly), a head lamp, and some other items. We're almost ready to go, we're getting excited!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

T - 13 Days

It's June 1st today, and we're in the final leg of preparations for Tanzania. Logan has been printing off photos to bring to his friends and host family from the last time he was in Tanzania (Fall 08). We wanted to start the blog early to discuss the preparations we've been going through to get ready for this.

We've been in contact with the villagers and drillers throughout the country. Logan's host family is expecting to see us as soon as we make it to Dar Es Salaam. We're really excited.

We've already gotten all of our shots for going over. Logan has one more in the rabies vaccination series to get, and I have to pick up a couple of prescriptions from the pharmacy. This time, when I went to the doctor to get my check up, I walked in, sat down, and my doctor looked at me and said: "Well, all we need to get you is malaria and cipro." It was the first time I've ever been all caught up on vaccinations for traveling overseas. It made me feel special because it means that I'm starting to move in the to the frequent traveler category.

Tomorrow, we'll post some pictures from the last time that Logan visited the village. Until then, here is our current itinerary, even though it is continually changed by the airlines:

Rapid City to Denver
Flight DetailsSunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 7:29 AM
United AirlinesFlight Number: UA6767
From: (RAP) Rapid City SD, USADepart: 7:29 AM
To: (DEN) Denver CO, USAArrive: 8:40 AM
Status: CONFIRMEDClass: Coach
Equipment: CRJ-Canadair Regional JetSeats: 02D, 02C
Operated by: /UNITED EXPRESS/SKYWEST AIRLINES(UA)
Denver to Amsterdam
Flight DetailsSunday, Jun 13, 2010 at 11:25 AM
Continental AirlinesFlight Number: CO0058
From: (DEN) Denver CO, USADepart: 11:25 AM
To: (AMS) Amsterdam, NetherlandsArrive: 8:20 AM
Status: CONFIRMEDClass: Coach
Equipment: Boeing 767-400 JetSeats: 30E, 34L, 30F, 36L
Amsterdam to Nairobi
Flight DetailsMonday, Jun 14, 2010 at 8:40 PM
Kenya AirwaysFlight Number: KQ0117
From: (AMS) Amsterdam, NetherlandsDepart: 8:40 PM
To: (NBO) Nairobi Kenyatta, KenyaArrive: 6:15 AM
Status: CONFIRMEDClass: Coach
Equipment: Boeing 777 JetSeats: 14B, 14A