So it finally happened. One of the main reasons that I signed up to volunteering with VSO (almost four years ago), thinking I would be matched with a placement to Tanzania, the country of my birth. After many a hiccup, even at the end with several delays to my actual my departure date, I finally flew to Dar es Salaam, a week ago to be placed as a volunteer for a year, based in Lindi, working on a Youth Employability and Entrepreneurship project. Those of you who know me, a topic that is so very close to my heart. Thank you especially Bex at VSO and all my family and friends for supporting my dream to get here.
As I mentioned the last time, and especially given the limited internet facilities where I will be based, I am hoping to update you on all on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I do hope you can follow me there but for now, some of my observations and thoughts about what I suspect will be another adventure of a lifetime.
Flying in with my first view of the city and collecting our luggage (to the amusement of many, note the clever Nepali style ‘Winnie the Pooh laundry bags that I used to transport some of my luggage).
Jhumbe the VSO driver, pointing out my list of landmarks on our way to our hotel.
Promise it was not all about food and sundowners but a full on packed week meeting the friendly staff, learning about the VSO Tanzania country strategy, security policies, system and procedures to meeting my project manager and of course the Language immersion.
Our patient and obliging hotel waiter/barman/concierge…you name it, Godfrey will help.
I felt very blessed to be here in time to celebrate my 50th birthday, which kicked off with all my greetings from around the world, drinks with the volunteers, then a surprise laid on by mum in cahoots with the wonderful Delphine who was relentless in convincing me to meet her that evening and I am so so glad that I did. we went to the Dar es Salaam Institute (DI), the Goan club, my dad’s drinking haunt and a venue where I recalled so very many social events.
The DI seemed exactly the same, more than 40 years on, kudos to the Goans in Dar for maintaining the place and from the bricks in a prized real estate location to the vibrant atmosphere where all community, no matter what age were enjoying themselves. Despite having three hours of Language classes whilst a little worse wear, fun was to be had from carrying cake for the class on the bus to practising new words. The day ended perfectly with sunset beach bar views and dinner with my sister’s friend John who has been so kind with endless advice, tips and connections in preparation for Lindi.
Tanzanians appear a friendly and helpful group of people. Greeting start with a cheery “Mambo” from all, to which we reply “Poa”, meaning I am cool, now that is indeed such a ‘cool’ kick off to any conversation!
Kiswahili, I learnt spoken in Tanzania, especially Dar is one of the purest forms now spoken across many countries in Africa, with its roots in Bantu, Arabic and British. Thankfully to me easier to learn, almost 80% of the words are English and pronounced with extended e at the end, bus is “busee, “officee”, “shirtee”, “socksee”….you get the gist?
The City centre combines the old architecture and skyscrapers that would not look out of place in London or NY.
Some of the cleverest I have come across.
From the buses painted with a strip around the entire bus to indicate the location route it will be travelling.
Upcycling car tyres from Masai footwear, seating to covering holes in the road.
Mpesa, mobile based money transfer. Being able to walk around cash free and pay for almost anything from your utility to restaurants to small vendor bills via your phone. Genius!
I think I am going to love it here!