There has been quite a bit of time (and distance) since our last blog post for everyone. We have finished our project in Ushirika, packed up our lives there, and travelled ~800km over 10 hours on the bus to Morogoro. We are slowly settling into our new lives here – a drastic change from our lives in Ushirika – and we are very excited to share the end of the Ushirika story and the start of the Morogoro story with you!
A taste of what we’ve experienced so far
Food and Drink
We said goodbye to rice and beans and chipsi mayai in Ushirika and warmly welcomed back a homemade, balanced diet. We are currently living with Gimbi’s family in Morogoro and his wife, Dorothy, has a PhD in nutrition (and is a lovely cook!). We have been spoiled with fresh fruits and vegetables, three complete meals a day, and variety like we never had access to in Ushirika. Everything is delicious and healthy! We’re spending a lot of time in the kitchen (a real one…not just bending over a charcoal stove) and we’re learning how to prepare a lot of the traditional dishes. Hopefully we’ll be experts by the time we head home!
For once, we can finally say that the weather is what we anticipated in Africa. It is sunny and hot and beautiful! We have not worn sweaters or long pants since our arrival in Morogoro and we’re not sad at all to have left behind the cold, rainy climate of Ushirika. However, the rain seems to follow us wherever we go and despite being the dry season even Morogoro is experiencing some rain. The locals refer to it as “mango showers” – a 10 day rain season apparently stimulated by the blooming of mango trees. It only rains at night but sometimes the clouds last into the day (we don’t mind because it’s still much nicer than the weather we had previously).
We were very busy with project work as we winded down our time in Ushirika. We visited the primary schools in both villages and taught the kids two English songs (Head and Shoulders and Crazy Elephant) and how to play Ultimate Frisbee. We were able to provide each school with English textbooks, skipping ropes, chalk for teaching, and two soccer balls. They were so happy! We also spent a day with Ilima Secondary School (the high school for the ward) and taught them basic chicken health, zoonosis, and how to prevent disease spread. We had a bit of fun with them too and played a game of Ultimate Frisbee together (after teaching them the basics). They picked up the game very quickly and Kellie and I were able to create teams and compete head to head. The winner was… everyone 😀
It was very hard to say goodbye to everyone in Ushirika. We created a family of friends while we were there and it was sad to have to explain our time was up. We made sure we were able to visit with everyone before our departure though. We spent the day with all of the villagers in Ilima and Lubanda who made our time very special. It was going to be quite the adjustment not seeing them every day for our training and lab sessions! It was nice to know that they were excited about the knowledge we provided and to see some of the changes they were already beginning to implement. They showed their appreciation by providing us with eggs from their flocks – 27 in total! After saying our goodbyes to the villagers, we had a lot of goodbyes to say to the people of Ushirika who were staples in our daily lives. It was very sad to know that saying goodbye meant we were no longer going to pass them every day and get to say “mambo”.
It is crazy to think that the Tanzania Poultry Project in Ushirika has actually come to an end. It feels like yesterday we sat down with the farmers for our initial meetings. 10 weeks later, we were wrapping up all the loose ends and finishing our time in Ilima and Lubanda. Our training sessions were a huge success! We had great turnout, incredible participation and enthusiasm from the farmers, and we were able to see the information being put into action already! The lab sessions were both fun and rewarding – giving everyone the opportunity to get hands-on experience mixing complete, balanced chicken feed and building chicken coops for hens and chicks. Even the women took part in hammering in nails during our coop lab – it was such a wonderful thing! They were also excited to see each others’ coops and talk with one another about chicken husbandry on our farm tour. They all did very well on the tests we provided throughout the sessions and the final exam scores were incredibly impressive as well. Our top 3 farmers in both villages managed to ace the course with over 90% averages!
Since leaving Ushirika, we’ve started working on a project with local chickens and primary schools in the Morogoro area in coordination with Sokoine University of Agriculture. We will be visiting project sites in four primary schools as well as potential sites for new project schools in the district. The current project schools have chicken houses to keep local chickens on school grounds. The chickens are used for practical hands-on work for the students as well as income generation for the schools. The students are given the opportunity to learn about chicken husbandry in class, practice those skills in the chicken house, and then bring the knowledge home to their families. The hopes are that by educating teachers, we can educate students (the future farmers) and disseminate the knowledge of how to care for chickens into the local community. We are excited for the chance to participate in the project and see what the school projects have been able to accomplish so far!
Our bus ride from Ushirika to Morogoro was quite the experience! We left at 6:00am when it was still dark and arrived in Morogoro shortly after 4:00pm. It was a long ride with few stops and little room. Our driver only pulled over twice and he had no plans of waiting for anyone! We had to take turns getting off the bus to stretch our legs at each stop because we weren’t certain he’d mind leaving us behind. We luckily packed breakfast, lunch, and snacks because buying food would have been near impossible! At some of the weigh scales, people would offer snacks through the windows – hoisting them up above them heads on buckets and surrounding the bus – but we wouldn’t have been able to sustain ourselves for the 10 hour ride on cookies, peanuts, pop, and bubble gum! Our seats were relatively small and didn’t give us a ton of space to move; winding through the mountains made that very evident as we crashed and banged into one another around the twists and bends. We made it in one piece though and were very happily greeted by Dorothy.
Swahili word of the day
We figured our last post about Ushirika should include some of the most common Swahili words we used during our time there – our chicken words!
Kuku – Chicken
Jogoo – Rooster
Tetea – Hen
Vifaranga – Chick
Mayai – Egg (not to be confused with “my eye” – this has been an inside joke)
Banda – Coop
Lishe – Nutrition
Pumba – Maize bran (the main component of chicken feed available locally)
Maji safi – Clean water
Chanjo – Vaccination
Mdondo or Kideri – Newcastle Disease
Ndui – Fowl Pox