It’s an early Wednesday morning in Arusha and the streets are as green as ever. It’s been almost a month since I’ve been in Tanzania. Waking up to a beautiful view of Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro comes naturally and I feel kind of ‘settled in.’
My Swahili lessons are going well. It’s definitely a charming language and the locals are really appreciative when I try and speak with them.
One sentence I definitely remember is, ninapenda parachichi! I love avocados! The avocados are the size of my head and they’re so delicious. I find myself yelling out that sentence every time we pass an avocado tree. Still, Tanzanians always tell me “pole pole!” which means slow down! Talking fast in Swahili isn’t really working out for me but hopefully I’ll get there soon.
My time in Arusha so far has really been a learning experience. Besides spending my mornings learning Swahili, I usually take some time out of my day to visit something or someone.
I take the local bus called the dala dala to get around. Sometimes I find myself squeezing in, shoulder-to-shoulder with the locals. Once there was up to 20 people and two chickens on it and there are only enough seats for 14. You just yell out “shusha” when you need to get out and if you’re lucky, they stop.
These past few weeks I have visited many different organizations around town and interviewed some very inspiring Tanzanians.
I visited the Lohada Orphanage and interviewed the wonderfully kind-hearted Mama Wambura. She is a strong Tanzanian woman who opened up the orphanage 13 years ago. She takes in street children or children who can’t be supported by their parents.
She says the most difficult part of the job is not being able to take in every child in need. But over the years, running the orphanage has become more and more difficult as the number of children has grown. Currently they have 35 children at the orphanage and 180 at Joshua primary school. She opened up the school to give the children a place to study.
Although she has helped many street children, she says re-integrating them back into society hasn’t been successful.
Mama Wambura has dedicated more than a decade of her life to children in need. She says the problem is not that she does not have a big enough heart to help everyone but the process of taking in a child and encouraging a better life is extremely difficult.
I imagine raising a family is hard enough and Mama Wambura has done so with over 300 children. Her kindness is definitely an inspiration and Tanzania needs more women like her.
Another organization I visited is called Women in Action. I interviewed the powerful Elizabeth Moshi. The organization tries to target the poorest individuals, especially women and encourages them to start a business.
Elizabeth told me about a woman who had nothing and through the help of the organization she started her own chicken business. Women in Action helped her microfinance the project. Microfinance is a source of financial services for entrepreneurs and small businesses lacking access to banking.
Now, the woman is selling eggs for a profit. Elizabeth said she saw an incredible transformation. At first she was ashamed and timid and later became confident through her work.
At the end of the year, Women in Action and business owners celebrate the profits. And this is just one of the stories of the many women Elizabeth empowered.
I also had the chance to sit down with Timothy Ole Yaile. He works at the Pastoral Women’s Council. The organization tries to promote the rights of Maasai people. I learned that it is very difficult for Maasai girls to stay in school. The organization provides loans to encourage them to pursue college or university, even if it is against their families will.
The organization was founded by Maanda Ngoitiko, a Maasai women who grew up moving around with the family cattle. At 12 years old, she was supposed to leave school and marry a Maasai man against her will. She ran away in hope of getting the opportunity to study and work. This situation is quite frequent in the Maasai culture and she hopes her organization can give young girls the same opportunity to be independent.
Well that’s it for now. I hope the people I interviewed inspired you a little bit. It is really incredible to see people helping people and those who try and make the best of their lives even if they come from very difficult situations.
Tutaonana! See you later!