Going Together in Tanzania!

There’s a saying here in Africa that “If you want to go quickly go alone; but if you want to go far, go together”. We could not agree more. We have been blessed to meet such hardworking and passionate individuals who are all dedicated to the betterment of Tanzania. From the team at Africa Bridge who consistently go above and beyond what is expected, to the small holder farmers who have warmly welcomed us into their homes and patiently taught us Swahili; Tanzania undeniably puts the T in TEAM.

20347935_10212070947704330_1618285891_oNot to be biased but Isuba may be our favorite village. Only four people were required to attend our calf care training but we had over 20! We guess even learning is more fun with the support of your entire village.

DSC02427The A-Team. Front to back Left: Wema, Martha, Angie, Kevin, Yona, Davis. Right: Fred, Cheyenne, Abed. We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from this inspiring and dedicated group of individuals of Africa Bridge.

DSC02398Ponsiano (black jacket) and Cheyenne discussing cow management with Maria Moses (turquoise shirt). When talking with villagers, it helps to have someone who can double as translator, like Ponsiano. We’d be lost without him, that’s for sure.

DSC01773Here we are getting our hands dirty as we learn pottery, a true Tanzanian craft, at Matema beach with the help and guidance of the local villagers.

20632348_10154710979972483_464730040_nWhen you’re not used to village life it can get the best of you. Our mentor Dr. Roger was always ready to have a little fun and put a smile on our faces.

20370531_10154680540537483_977058630_nActivities such as distribution of cows need support from both private and public authorities. Seen here is Alfred (Brown sweater), the Ward Executive Officer of Kisundela ward handing a cow to one of the caretakers of most vulnerable children in Isuba village.

DSC02291All hands on deck as Cheyenne collects milk from Edward Sanya’s cow (light blue shirt) for mastitis testing, while Godwin Makasungo helps restrain.

20170804_124008What is there more to say? We would be lost without Dr. Gimbi. No Tanzanian placement will be complete without this amazing veterinarian. He was a big help to us and has taken care of several other groups of VWB/VSF students in the past.

DSC02192From the peak of Mount Rungwe, Team Tanzania thank all of you who have joined us throughout our journey. The support we felt here was amazing, and the things we learned will stay with us for a long time. Asanteni sana (thank you all) and badayi (till we meet again).

This is Team Eggplant signing off!

Unique Ideas from Tanzania

You know how the saying goes “give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” Well in Tanzania if you teach a man to fish not only will he master it, but he will also find new and innovative ways of improving his craft. We’d love to share with you some of the unique ideas coming from some innovative people that we’ve had the chance to work with over the past two months.
Let’s start with something that is near and dear to both Cheyenne and Angie’s hearts, wildlife preservation. Over the years, human-wildlife conflict has drastically decreased wildlife population in Africa, especially in the Rungwe region. Farming lands has resulted in encroachment on wildlife habitats which increased human-wildlife conflict. For example more monkeys steal farmers’ crops. While visiting Mbeya we met Sylvanos Kimiti, who informed us that the Wildlife Conservation Society of Southern Tanzania has been working to resolve monkey-human conflict in a very innovative way: chili dung. That’s right, by mixing chili peppers and cow dung, and then smearing it over their crops monkeys are deterred from eating farmer crops. Less crop loss means a happy farmer and a safer monkey.

DSC01977Yellow baboons, like this one, are just one of the many species of monkeys who can live to close to farmlands and steal farmers’ crops. Along with the chili-dung method farmers can also plant garlic or avocados. Both of these are alternative crops that monkeys don’t like to eat.

Sticking to the topic of crops, we have had the privilege of ‘training the trainers’ about the “Millenials” favorite food, the glorious avocado, locally known as the parachichi. Avocados take 3 years to mature from seedling into a fruit bearing tree. Therefore, it is essential to make sure that young tree gets appropriate care, including weeding at least 2x a month. To help reduce weed overgrowth, Tanzanian farmers have also discovered that they can plant short season crops such as beans in between their trees. This helps reduce the need to weed and acts as an excellent source of food.

19867021_10211904882272798_1341041089_oAngie teaching at Iponjola village and discussing the benefit of plant beans (maharage) in between lines of avocado trees to prevent weed overgrowth as well as provide extra nutrient to soil. As you can see Cheyenne and Angie added their own flair to the avocado lesson with hand drawn visuals to keep the farmers engaged.

Next on our list is the most innovative of them all: the chicken farmer. Aside from disease prevention, management, and nutrition, we also teach farmers about proper housing for their chickens. We are always amazed at how creative they get with the materials they have available. When visiting Mpunga village we were amazed to see a chick brooder complete with lights to keep the chicks warm. Frequent power outages can be a big problem in rural Tanzania but don’t worry this farmer has it covered, he also has a backup clay pot that can be filled with charcoal to provide extra heat. The difference this makes? Zero chick mortality from this flock.

19885718_10211904805910889_802183513_oNo cold chicks here. The chairman for the most vulnerable children committee has been attending all of Africa Bridge’s training sessions and used this information to go above and beyond in his brooder, complete with heat emitting lights as well as a backup heat source (the charcoal filled clay pot in the corner).


We also cannot help but notice innovation even during our days off. Whilst in Iringa for a Safari we had the privilege of getting to know the staff and story of Neema Crafts. Neema is a local organization working to change the way society views those with disabilities. Employing over 100 workers, all with disabilities, Neema had an especially innovative start in 2003 when they started making elephant dung paper.  That’s right, by drying, dying and flattening elephant dung Neema has made beautiful paper that can be used for everything from post cards to journal covers.

19885717_10154633880792483_1956376470_oHere we see Raheri, who is working on making boxes which will later be covered in the dung paper. The different sheets of paper can be seen behind her to the right. The sheets can be dyed different colours and used for a variety of products.

19850972_10154633886087483_755943539_oOne of the beautiful elephants Angie and Cheyenne got to see on their Safari to Ruaha. All of Neema’s elephant dung is sourced from Ruaha national park. It is collected by volunteers, dried and then brought into the workshop.

Since coming to Tanzania we have spent a lot of time training farmers in livestock and crop management.  However, as much as we have been acting as teachers, we have also learned a lot.  We hope that through sharing these stories you also see that when faced with a challenge, Tanzanians will change it into an opportunity.

Tanzania young volunteers — one month in

Hello everyone, this is Angie, Cheyenne and Dr. Roger of Team Tanzania. We can’t believe it’s been a month since we left home to start our African journey. After a training session in Ottawa we landed in Tanzania and dived head first into international development in this beautiful country. We hope you can appreciate the diversity of the work we’ve been involved in for the past month. We’ve been a part of round potato planting to prevent soil erosion, taught secondary students about the opportunities involved in poultry keeping, and started a pilot poultry vaccination program.

These are our first month’s highlights, Enjoy!

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Figure 1: Mr. Ntajile of IADO showing farmers from ILEMBO USAFWA the importance of reducing chemical fertilizer by using more portion of organic fertilizer for round potato farming.

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Figure 2: Cheyenne and Angie distributing New Castle Oral Vaccine to chicken farmers of Idimi village. Clean soda bottles and 20L pails are essential when working in remote villages to distribute oral vaccines.

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Figure 3: Cheyenne standing with Riziki Samwel (grey dress shirt) and one of the local farmers in Lwanjilo village after successful vaccination.

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Figure 4: Prior to mass vaccination, every village receives training on basic poultry management and the importance of regular vaccination. Seen here is Dr. Roger (red VWB shirt), and two IADO staff Lusakelo (green striped shirt) and Ntajile (tan shirt) lecturing in Hapaloto village.

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Figure 5: Angie inspecting a kid (baby goat) for external parasites. After we finish distributing ND (new castle disease) vaccine in Hapaloto village, we had some downtime. This is one of the best ways to pass time as a vet student in Tanzania.

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Figure 6: Building a relationship and meeting with the village council is essential building block of sustainable international development. They say it takes a village to raise a child, can you imagine how many people it must take to run a village? (Seen here IADO team with Dr. Roger Thomson and village executive council of Ilowelo. From left to right, Steven Mengu (hamlet chairman), Yona Samwel (village executive officer, wearing blue suit)

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Figure 7: On our first weekend off since arriving in Tanzania we decided to take a breather from the buzzing city of Mbeya and enjoy a 2 hour hike through the rainforest to crater Lake Ngozi. Seen here are Cheyenne and Angie enjoying the view of the lake while snacking on fresh fruits.

Living in Tanzania has been quite the adventure so far! We have met some wonderful people, dedicated farmers and seen amazing views of protected environments. We can’t wait to see what happens next!

Canadian veterinary students in Tanzania

Julie and Liz’s much condensed adventures with Vets without Borders student placement program in Tanzania:

May, 2014

We had safely arrived in Morogoro at 6am and we were very happy to have a bed after two days of travel. Our first day had us driving to Sokoine University of Agriculture which has the only vet school in Tanzania. We learned that students out of high school come to this university, but that the program is 5 years instead of 4, as it is in Canada. They have about 600 hours of classroom time in a year and it is not as hands-on as the experience we have had so far in our schooling in Ottawa.  We had a tour of the labs, the surgery prep room and the animal handling facilities. All the equipment and facilities were very rudimentary. The one interesting thing they told us was that when they did surgeries, they only used an injectable anesthetic because their anesthesia gas machine was broken. They were also very proud to show us their new x-ray machine.

Our first hotel is in Tukuyu which is the closest city to where we are staying. We were introduced to bucket showers as the motel had only running cold water, and we only got hot water from the hotel in buckets. Also, only one of our toilets is a typical North American one and the other is just a hole which we affectionately call a “lily pad”. Tanzania is divided into regions, then districts, then wards and then each individual city or village. We are working in Ilima which is part of the Mbeya region, Rungwe district and Ilima ward. The Ilima ward has 6 villages and we work in Ilima, Lubanda and expanding the project to Katundulu. We had a meeting with Veronica Kessey who is in charge of the Rungwe region and other officials to discuss the project. Ms. Kessey is originally from Kilimangaro and has only been working in this area for a month. She seemed really keen on our ideas and she seemed like she will be great to work with.

We then travelled to Ushirika which is where Liz and I will be living for the duration of the project. We also met up with Gaga who is the Village Extension Officer. He is like a veterinary technician who is in charge of looking after the livestock in Ilima and Lubanda. He has been involved in the Ilima Poultry Project for three years. We also met Allen Minga who is another successful farmer who has worked on the project for several years. Roger said they ask for more chickens every year, but the local breed can do fine if the farmers practice proper animal husbandry. Roger explained that the project is not about providing money; it’s about educating the farmers so that when we leave at the end of the summer, they can continue with the project.

Roger and his wife have been contributing to the school since 2003, as well as helped build the Ilima Secondary School in 2008.  They started cheering and singing as they followed us to the school. It was amazing and the children were so welcoming! Roger talked about the project and how it was important in that it generated income for families in Ilima and provided them with more eggs. He emphasized the importance of education and that learning is best on a full stomach. After Ilima Primary, we traveled to Lubanda Primary. We had a meeting with all the teachers and the school and town council. We discussed the same issues and talked about the poultry project.

In late May, we were lucky enough to attend a National Torch Ceremony. Every year the National Torch drives around the country and stops in many cities. It is a symbol of peace and unity in the country. The ceremony was in a school field down the road. When we got there the torch wasn’t there yet so we had dinner in one of the dozens of food tents. It was pretty neat to see all the different booths and tents. It reminded me a lot of festivals at home. When the torch got there everyone crowded around to watch the ceremony. The whole town was there! We walked around a bit after and we played some ring toss games and Liz and Gaga also gambled a bit. We also looked at a very interesting booth with natural medicines. My favourite part of the festival was watching all the dancing. Music is a big part of the culture and it was neat to watch all the different tribal dances.

June, 2014

In June, went on farm calls with Gaga to see some pig raising facilities and help farmers with some problems with their livestock. We treated a calf in Ushirika with dewormer (Ivomec) and vitamins. I did the subQ injection for the dewormer while Liz did the IM injection of vitamins. Then we walked to Kayuki Girls Secondary School. There is a small farm on the campus. They had a pretty impressive pig raising facility. It has separate pens for different age groups, but they could be either inside or outside. We were giving piglets iron injections that day so Liz and I hopped into the pen to capture the piglets. It was pretty fun to chase them! We then met with a school teacher who has been raising chickens for a year now. She just had a bunch of her chicks die so she had to buy more replacements. She was interested in learning more about raising poultry and she asked us if we could teach her. She gave us a tour of her chicken coop and showed us the new one she was building which was pretty impressive.   For much of the remainder of June, we did a lot of work with chicken coops and teaching best practices for poultry raising.

This morning we went to visit the teacher at Kayuki Girls School. We brought her fowl typhoid meds with us as well as vitamins. We explained to her that the medication dissolves in the water and to only provide this water to all the chickens on the farm. We provided her with enough medication and vitamins for 5 days. Then we went to visit a farmer whose cow had just calved that morning. He said that the cow had calved twice before and afterwards “all the milk would move into her abdomen”. We didn’t think this was possible so we decided to look at the cow. There was definitely swelling in her abdomen and she tried to kick us when we touched it. Gaga said that she could always produce enough milk for her calves and that the calves were always healthy. We thought that she most likely has a hernia and that after the calf is weaned he should sell her for meat. The farmer invited us to see the calf which he bottle fed and kept in the house. It was so cute and friendly! Afterwards we drove back to Ushirika to pick up the chick Gaga had been taking care of. The chick had a lot more diarrhea around her vent and there seemed to be blood coming out of it. The chick also had picked a lot more feathers away. For dinner, Liz and I went to Happy’s and cooked “Canadian food”. We asked them if they had ever had spaghetti before and they said they had, but they only ate it plain with salt and oil mixed in. We made spaghetti sauce with tomatoes, garlic, onion and peppers. We were able to cook everything ourselves, but we were still not good at using charcoal. Everyone loved the spaghetti which was awesome. We were glad it turned out considering we had only had practice cooking spaghetti on a regular stovetop. Happy and everyone else ate the spaghetti like ugali which was pretty funny. They had the sauce on the side and then they picked up a handful of spaghetti and then dipped it in the sauce. Liz and I laughed and said we need to teach them to twirl it with a fork North American-style.

For much of the remainder of June, we did a lot of work with chicken coops and teaching best practices for poultry raising.  Towards the end of the month, vaccinations really kicked into gear after farmers showed a strong interest in learning more about diseases and learning how to administer the vaccines. To prepare for this, we had a meeting first where Gaga discussed the vaccination process and went over the hand out. We also handed out the vaccination records and daily records to the teachers as well as a diseases hand out. There were 14 farmers who wanted their chickens vaccinated that day. They brought water bottles to put Gumboro’s vaccine in and they said they kept their chickens in a coop.  Every teacher practiced the fowl pox injection and the Newcastle eyedropper at least once. We were fairly slow at this farm, but picked up the pace as we moved from farm to farm.  We had successfully vaccinated 120 birds though! We were pretty proud of ourselves for the first day and we are sure we will be more efficient as time goes on.

July, 2014

In July, we spent a lot of time teaching the farmers about raising their poultry.  Due to Uganda’s climate, it is important that farmers do not hatch their chicks in the dry season.  We talked about nutrition and parasites, as roundworms are very prevalent in the area that we are working in. The farmers were very receptive and interested especially in the feed ratios!  Aside from the health of chickens, we talked a lot about poultry rearing financials. The main lesson being only keeping as many chickens as they could afford to feed. Sell the males and keep the females for laying. We spent a lot of time making a test for their poultry and wanted to get across a few main points such as; Don’t eat sick chickens; Don’t hatch chicks during the dry season; and Vaccination is the only way to prevent viruses.   Some reels of wire were provided to the student with the best exam score!

We also advised them to only raise 60 chicks a year (two clutches of 10 chicks at a time every three months excluding the dry season) and showed them what their costs and returns would be. We also showed them the cost of feeding half pumba (free maize screenings) and chick starter which is much cheaper, but the chickens will not grow as fast. We also demonstrated that they will still have a profit of 40% if their chickens die! We asked them if they think this is possible. They really liked the idea and said they would just need the money to start. They think if they sold a cow for example, they would have enough money to buy a bag of feed. The whole idea of the meeting is to encourage them to invest in the chickens and to get a much bigger return in the long run. There were many days that we spent vaccinating chickens at all of the farms that we could reach.    One day we managed to  vaccinate over 1000 birds!

Some photos from our travels:

Dr Gimbi from the Open University of Tanzania, Roger (Project Manager IPP Canada) ,Veronica Kessy, Executive Director for the Rungwe Dstrict in the Mbeya Region. Ilima, Lubanda, and Katundula are villages in the Ilima Ward in the Rungwe District.Veronica Gimbi  Roger cropped 1

We always meet with the director to inform them of our presence in the district and what our plans are for the poultry project. Ms. Kessy is new to the district and was very interested to hear about the project. She let us know that she was very supportive of the project and would make sure everyone in her department was on board to help the project move forward. We gave Ms. Kessy a T-shirt that we were bringing to the village teachers. All the teachers in Ilima will get one of these T-shirts. The teachers in Lubanda will get a  similar T-shirt in red with Lubanda on it instead of Ilima

Meeting with Allen to discuss the agenda for our week long stay in Ringwe. Allen farms in the ward and is a key player in the success of the IPP as he understands the local politics and knows of all the farm families that we work with. He also handles the small stipends that we pay to the teachers with utmost diligence and trust.

Allen Minga( Local IPP project coordinator),Julie (student), Dr. Gimbi(OUT), Liz(student):

Allen Gimbi Julie Liz Ushirika 2

Liz trying to make friends with a week old calf at a farm in Ilima. The IPP is all about poultry but there are cattle, goats and pigs in all three villages that we work in.

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Ilima Coop. This is a typical small chicken coop that is prevalent in Ilima, Lubanda, and Katundulu. The farmers keep their hens confined at night. The interesting thing about this coop is the walls are made with fish net. The farmer told us he got the net from his grandfather. The net was used to trap monkeys that came to the farm to steal corn.

Ilima Coop Fish net

Chicken coop with bamboo walls. Bamboo grows wild here so it is an excellent building material. The down side is that the termites eventually ruin the structure and the farmers have to rebuild every couple of years.

Jumas Coop

Liz and Julie inspecting a local pig sty in Ilima

Pigs Ilima

Bus: This is typical of the transportation the Liz and Julie will use to travel to the villages from their home base in Ushirika. One cannot be faint of heart when boarding the local buses because they are always very crowded and you can always squeeze in another body or two. Note the man on top of the bus adding more goods.Bus Loaded Man on top

James Mgilla and Roger. James is the village chairman for Ilima and is a great supporter of the IPP. He helps organise the itinerary for the week we are in lima Ward.

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We also met with the teachers of Ilima Primary School (IPS). Many of the farmers in the IPP are on the school council so this is an important part of maintaining credibility in the village. I have just given James 160 workbooks and 160 pens for the IPS. He will deliver them to the headmaster as he was absent for our meeting. The Head master was  at a district education meeting receiving an award of excellence for the IPS for “most improved primary school”.  The IPP can take some of the credit for this success as income from the sale of eggs goes towards school fees for the students. Access to school fees means better attendance with simple tools such as paper, pens and school uniforms.

Lubanda Primary School: This is at a meeting with the school council and teachers at Lubanda. Again, many of the farmers in the IPP are involved with the school council . Liz with a group of students at LPS. This is a great ice breaker for the VWB students because they will spend the next 12 weeks working in the villages and now all of the kids will recognise Liz and Julie and welcome them into the community.

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IPP team on our last day in Tukuyu: Roger, Liz ,Gaga (Village Extenson Officer and Interpreter), Allen (Local manager) Dr Gimbi (OUT) Julie

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Exit Report

It is very hard to believe that our twelve weeks with the Veterinarians Without Borders Tanzanian Poultry Project ends today.  Although there were likely moments that time dragged or felt like it stood still, it mostly feels like the time has flown by!  It makes sense that it feels like that since “time flies when you’re having fun” (and the saying must be a cliché for a reason).

Spending ten weeks living in Ushirika and working with the small-holder chicken farmers in Ilima and Lubanda was nothing short of life changing for us.  There were definitely some challenges adjusting to the change of pace that accompanied rural African life and the differences in daily life compared to Canada; however, putting our newly found skills into practice, every day became easier than the last.  We even came to enjoy some of the tasks that were once challenging like hand-washing all our laundry and cooking over a charcoal stove (although we don’t claim to have become good at them).

Although we faced slight challenges along the way, the rewards we received were plentiful and outnumbered the challenges a hundred to one!  Working with the small-holder farmers in Ilima and Lubanda was a true pleasure.  Their enthusiasm was contagious and got us excited to teach at every session.  They were eager to learn, engaged at the training sessions, and excited for the opportunity to learn more about their chickens and how to improve chicken health and productivity.  It was very fulfilling to see the discussions and questions that followed each training session and watch as some of the training material was put into practice by the farmers.  When we began, we were hopeful we would be able to make a difference in the health, productivity, and livelihood of the farmers and their chickens.  By the end of our time in Ushirika, we were able to see the beginnings of that difference – probably the greatest reward of all!

After ten weeks of the project, it was incredibly difficult to say goodbye to all the familiar faces in our small town of Ushirika.  We made some amazing friends and it was going to be a big adjustment not seeing them every day.  We were so thankful for the time we got to spend in Tanzania and everyone’s gratitude for our work in the villages was overwhelmingly touching.  When the time came to hold our final session with the small-holder farmers in Ilima and Lubanda, it was surreal.  We had spent nearly every day working with them and when we said our goodbyes we both thought “this isn’t really the last session” – it didn’t really kick in that it was until we were in Morogoro.


Our time in Morogoro the past two weeks has also been very rewarding.  We had the opportunity to visit the four primary schools in the district that have a chicken house project.  The chicken house projects were implemented two years ago by the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) to provide primary school students hands-on, learning opportunities with local chickens.  The classroom teaching and hands-on practical experience from the school’s chicken house project could be transferred into the homes of the students, improving poultry care and knowledge within the surrounding communities.  In addition to the knowledge and its transfer to the community, the chicken house also provides an income generating project for the schools.  The sale of chickens and their products helps support students living in poverty to offset school fees or uniform purchases, and provides money for school supplies like chalk, books, and soccer balls for the school.  Chickens and their products are also used as a reward for student academic excellence and as protein sources for child growth and development.  The chicken house model, referred to as the Teacher-Pupil-Parent (TPP) model, plays a central role in the IDRC concept note we submitted in May during our first trip to Morogoro.  If funding were approved from IDRC, the chicken house project could be expanded into a huge number of schools in the district and increase the health, productivity, and livelihood of the majority of the families and chickens in the area.

We were very excited to have the chance to visit the project schools and check out the chicken houses!  The Tanzania Poultry Project has a similar chicken house built at Ilima Secondary School that would function to achieve similar goals to the chicken houses in the Morogoro primary schools and also provide living accommodations for a few orphans in Rungwe district.  Unfortunately, land disputes at Ilima Secondary have put the implementation of the chicken house on hold currently.  Visiting the project schools here would give us an idea of what the chicken house could look like in the future at Ilima Secondary and also how a larger-scale project through IDRC funding could change things dramatically in the Morogoro area.  Each school was managed very differently but all of them were self-sustaining and made huge differences in the lives of the students and surrounding communities.  We visited nine other schools that could potentially house the project in the future, and talked about some of the key parameters that could be used to assess the success and feasibility of implementing a chicken house at the schools.  We both have our fingers crossed that through IDRC funding or other sources, the TPP chicken house project can expand to a wider region in Morogoro and maybe even to other districts in the country.  Perhaps you can keep your fingers crossed too…

In addition to visiting the project schools, we got to spend some time with a veterinary class at SUA.  We accompanied them on their field practicals to some swine farms in the area.  We got to talk about the differences in veterinary medicine in Tanzania and Canada and they even taught us how to perform some minor procedures in pigs!  Yesterday, Thursday August 8th, was a national holiday known as “nane nane” (literally eight eight) that celebrates agriculture and farming throughout the country.  We visited the fairgrounds, explored the different pavilions, and learned all about different agricultural practices and advances in Tanzania.  Our two favourite exhibits were at the SUA pavilion.  The first was an urban farming display where we were taught about space-saving ideas for gardening in the city.  We’ll be bringing the ideas back to Canada and improving our home gardens with some of the designs!  The second was SUA’s faculty of veterinary medicine display.  We got to examine preserved diseased specimens, cool x-rays from various animals, and all the instruments they use in veterinary practice here.  Everyone at the display was shocked to hear us explain each item to the kids (we went to nane nane with our Morogoro family – the Gimbis’)… they didn’t realize we were veterinary students from Canada!


It is no surprise that twelve weeks has flown by with all the fun we’ve had here.  We made some friends, learned a ton, and explored the beautiful country of Tanzania.  Our next few weeks will continue that exploration as we set off together for some vacation time.  We plan to enjoy the exotic spices and white sandy beaches of Zanzibar, the wild animals and safari excitement of Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, and the beauty of Northern Tanzania.  We’ll part ways for the last week as Kellie returns to Canada and Jodi climbs Mount Kilimanjaro.  Our adventure has been such a rewarding experience and we’re so thankful to have had the opportunity to work on the Tanzania Poultry Project.  We appreciate your support throughout our journey and hope you feel our blogs helped you get a taste of the wonder Tanzania has to offer.

Kwa heri kila mtu (goodbye everyone)!

Goodbye Ushirika, Hello Morogoro

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).


Daily Life

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

Our Favourite Africa Things

While Kellie and I walked to a farm to see a sick chicken, we chatted about some of the things we were going to miss about being here.  Things like walking down dirt paths to farm calls in the bright warm sun (like we were doing during our conversation).  We joked about creating a song parody like The Sound of Music’s “My Favourite Things” sung by Maria.  Turns out the joke turned into a reality and we composed a parody (sung to the same tune) for everyone’s enjoyment.  Some of the song is in Swahili so there is a legend at the end for translation purposes.


“Our Favourite Africa Things”

By: Jodi and Kellie

Buying ndizi and ripe parachichi

Drinking a Tusker or Kilibaridi

Goats on the roadside tied there by a string

These are our favourite Africa things.


The days with maji and the nights with power

Having clean feet and a long, moto shower

School kids surrounding us, starting to sing

These are our favourite Africa things.


Responding “poa” when greeted with “mambo”

Eating our wali / maharagwe combo

Jammed in a bus like a can of sardines

These are our favourite Africa things.


When the bus breaks

When the kids scream

When the stove won’t light

We simply remember our Africa things

And then everything’s alllllllllllllright

[Repeat all verses]



*Ndizi – Bananas (one of Kellie’s absolute favourite things!  We had to look up if eating too many could kill you…)

*Parachichi – Avocados (sold right next to the ndizi’s at our favourite roadside stand)

*Tusker/ Kili (short for Kilimanjaro) – two Tanzanian beers (Kili is Jodi’s favourite, Kellie prefers Serengeti but it doesn’t work in the song)

*Baridi – Cold (you have to specifically request for a cold beer and it rarely ever shows up that way even when you do)

*Maji – Water (our house’s tap runs dry often and there is never any warning when it does)

*Moto – Hot (we use hot loosely because showers are never hot.  Lukewarm water from a MEC camping shower is usually the best we can get and it is much more enjoyable than bathing with cold water so it makes it favourites list for that reason!

*Poa – Cool (poa can be used as a slang similar to English.  It also can mean that you are cold or that you want a piece of soap – poa is a brand of soap here too)

*Mambo – What’s up? (sometimes it is also said as “Mambo vipi” or just shortened to “vipi” which means “how’s it going” or literally “how”)

*Wali – Rice

*Maharagwe – Beans

June At a Glance

As we established in May, we thought it would be nice, for you and for us, to write a blog to reflect on each month we’ve been here.  Another month has flown by and it’s time we look back on the events of June.  Overall, June has been a busy month!  We’ve settled into life in Ushirika, made a lot of progress on the Poultry Project, and visited some local siteshere in Rungwe District.

We had practically mastered the daily grind in May and we’ve now settled into a routine here at home in Ushirika.  We seem to have come to a truce with the majority of the bugs in our house.  We see some every now and then but overall they steer clear of us and our killer flip flops.  We have regular spots for everything we need in town – from our banana ladies, to Baraka our egg guy, to our favourite rice and beans place.  We have become very widely known in town as well.  We even have ‘regulars’ that chase us down to give us high fives and ensure they’ve said hello or goodnight to us daily.  It’s nice to have familiar places and familiar faces and as Kellie said one day “it’s like the whole town is our Cheers”.  Even though we’ve established our favourite food spots, we’ve also taken to cooking a lot for ourselves at home.  It takes a lot of time and preparation but in the end it’s turned out to be a nice relaxing activity and gives us a break from rice and beans!  With our stellar navigation skills in the market and our regular produce stands, we’ve managed to whip up some delicious dishes and make modifications to dishes from home so that we can enjoy them here.  Breakfast has featured omelets, scrambled egg “burritos”, pancakes, and yummy fruit salads.  For dinner, we’ve managed pasta sauce with “mushrooms” (definitely NOT mushrooms – they are labelled as “tasty soya pieces” and are similar to meat-alternative products in Canada), and two versions of stir-fry vegetables.  We’re planning a stew and soup coming up and have a market day planned today in Tukuyu – the market is bigger and has more variety and we’ve really enjoyed exploring it when we stop in the city for internet.

The Tanzania Poultry Project has made incredible progress throughout the month of June.  It has really taken off!  The beginning of the month, we began our initial meetings with the farmers in both Ilima and Lubanda villages.  It was very nice to get the opportunity to visit all of their chicken coops and talk to them about their chickens.  It was eye-opening for us to be able to hear firsthand some of the successes of the project to date as well as the areas of struggle for some of the farmers currently.  We were optimistic that the issues raised by the farmers were something we could tackle over our time here and we were excited to really get to work on the project!  After visiting all the farmers, we set out to design a training program to touch on the biggest challenges faced.  We settled on five main areas of focus which would be offered to the farmers as in-classroom teaching sessions.  The five focus areas included: advantages of keeping local chickens, complete nutrition, vaccinations and common diseases, coop building and chicken care, and the importance of record keeping.   The farmers seem very engaged and enthusiastic about the material and we are so happy that they are interested in what we’re teaching.  It is not mandatory for anyone to attend but session after session everyone continues to show up!  We are both thrilled 🙂  Each session has also raised questions and discussions and we’ve been able to provide information that was previously not known. Each session also features a Unit Test which helps us assess if we’ve been effective in our teaching and to help determine the areas that need more focus.  With only a few tests done currently, the averages are high and we are excited our training program is making a difference!  In addition to the in-classroom sessions, we planned two hands-on lab sessions in nutrition and coop building that would allow the farmers to touch, feel, and see some of the things we talked about in the classroom.  We have yet to tackle the coop building lab (it’s coming up next week) but the nutrition lab was a huge success.  The farmers were so excited to be able to learn about complete, balanced nutrition and take a sample home with them!  At the end of the all the training sessions, we will bring both villages together to see the best coops in each village and to share knowledge, ideas, and experiences with one another.  We’re very much looking forward to it!

Working alongside Gaga, the village extension officer for Ilima and Lubanda, during the Poultry Project has also given us the opportunity to see some interesting cases through his extension work (the equivalent of veterinary field calls in Canada).  We have gone to several farms to visit cows, goats, and pigs to treat them and give preventative medicine.  It is a very unique experience for us because many of the diseases here are not seen in Canada!  We’ve had the chance to do some hands-on work and have learnt a lot about how certain diseases can be treated in the field here in Africa.  One of the very cool things we’ve gotten to do, as we briefly mentioned in our previous blog, is perform post-mortems on chickens in the field.  It’s great hands-on experience being able to diagnose the illness that lead to the chickens death, it contributes to the knowledge and training for the Poultry Project, and it gives us the opportunity to learn field techniques that can be applied in a very rural setting.  We are used to learning in pristine environments with sterile stainless steel tables and sharp new scalpel blades but it’s a whole different learning experience using a banana leaf as a table and pair of school scissors!  It has been an amazing experience to be able to experience another world of veterinary medicine.

When we’re not hard at work, we spend a lot of time with friends and exploring the Rungwe district.  We’ve had the pleasure of joining several friends (Gaga, Jeffrey, and Henry) at their homes for dinner.  We enjoyed roasted bananas and grilled pork, spaghetti, and a plantain and vegetable stew.  It is great to be able to get a taste of what people eat in their everyday Tanzanian life.  It’s also nice to be able to join their families for a meal – it makes us feel more at home!  Jeffrey, a teacher at Ilima Secondary School, also invited us to a family wedding so we were able to experience some unique Tanzanian culture.  We had a great time and may even adopt some of the customs for our own celebrations.  We have also been able to do a few trips in the area to explore the natural beauty more closely.  We spent a Sunday afternoon biking to Kaporogwe Falls and enjoyed lunch behind the waterfall.  It was a great bike ride and despite the rough roads and difficult trip home uphill, we had a wonderful time!  Last weekend, we were able to celebrate Kellie’s birthday with a weekend getaway to Lwifwa village where the beautiful Lake Masoko sits.  We camped beside the lake overnight and enjoyed a home-cooked meal from the local villagers.  We were welcomed openly to join in the funeral celebrations of the chief of Mambwe village and got to watch a traditional drum dance called kitulu.  We hiked in the mountains and did a six hour round trip to the bubbling hot springs.  The views were amazing and it was great to be in the fresh air and sun!

June has been a great month for us in Tanzania.  We’ve settled into our life in Ushirika, made a ton of progress on the Poultry Project (we are so excited about how it’s going), learned a lot about rural African veterinary medicine on our adventures with Gaga, and seen some amazing local sites.  At the half-way point through our travels here, we are excited for the upcoming weeks and the adventures to come!  We hope you are too…

Adventures and Answers

We are sure everyone is excited to find out the answer to our challenge from our last blog “Who Wants to Be a Veterinarian”.  However, instead of providing the answer, we thought it would be more fun for you to search for the answer like we searched for Kaporogwe Falls on Sunday.  Throughout the story of our Sunday adventure are bolded, underlinedletters that spell the disease the chickens were sick and died from.  We hope you enjoy this adventure (and reading about ours) as much as we enjoyed it!

We heard a rumour that there was a waterfall, Kaporogwe Falls, you can walk behind somewhere at the end of the road we live on.  Our friend Jeffery, the teacher at Ilima Secondary School we’ve mentioned before, provided us a hand-drawn map of the directions and helped to arrange bicycles for us to rent.  We picked up the bikes on Saturday evening and made sure they were fit to go (e.g. working brakes, tires full of air, etc).  We had completed steps 1 and 2 – map and bikes

On Sunday morning, we started our day with a delicious breakfast!  We decided to make a breakfast that reminded us of home – pancakes – and attempted it on our charcoal stove.  After a few trial and error pancakes, we perfected our technique and enjoyed delicious pancakes topped in pineapple liquor sautéed bananas with tea and coffee.  Step 3 complete – breakfast done.  With our bellies full, we set off on our bike ride to find Kaporogwe Falls!  Jeffery warned us that it would be 15km to the Falls and we’d likely have a harder time on the way back.  (Looking back, we realize he was absolutely right – we didn’t peddle at all on the way there and it kicked our butts on route back!) Along the way, we enjoyed the scenery of the ride – fields of tea, banana trees, and epic mountain views.  The small villages we biked through were beautiful and serene – they were a far cry from the road and cars and the busyness of larger cities!  You also wouldn’t believe how many children came rushing to the road side to wave.  It was incredibly cute.  Passerbys also got very excited when we greeted them in Swahili and Nyakyasa (the local tribal language).  We were joined by a village boy who self-appointed himself as our guide.  If we fell behind, he waited.  If we somehow got ahead, he’d point the way.  He never said a word to us but he was a great help.  He even carried our bikes over a river while balancing on a log bridge!  Before we knew it, we had accomplished step 4 – we were at Kaporogwe Falls!  The view was amazing; it looked like a scene from The Land Before Time or Lion King.  We took lots of pictures and enjoyed our lunch behind the waterfall.  With our bellies full again, we decided to head back home.

Only one more step to go in our adventure: step 5 – getting home.  It would prove to be the most difficult of all!  Jeffery had warned us it would be difficult and he was right.  It was exhausting!  We spent more time walking beside our bikes than peddling on them.  Most of the trek home was uphill and we were tired and hot when we finally arrived.Despite the hard work getting back, we had a great time exploring our neighbourhood.  Definitely a fun day!

Who Wants to be a Veterinarian?

Although we’d prefer to only have healthy chickens here in Tanzania, we went out to see two sick chickens with Gaga at two farms – one in Lubanda village and the other in our hometown of Ushirika.  Both farms raise chickens very differently but had the same disease in their chickens.  We thought we’d issue a challenge to everyone to see how good your veterinary deduction skills are!

Farm 1: Lubanda

–          Free range/scavenging chickens that come inside the home at night.

–          Vaccinated for Newcastle disease, supplementation with water and corn.

–          10 chickens in total – all mixed together.

–          One dead chicken (died that morning).

–          One sick chicken – with diarrhea and coughing.

Farm 2: Ushirika

–          Intensive system (the only one we’ve seen in Tanzania to date) – hanging feed and water dispensers, nest boxes, electricity in the coop, and perches.

–          Vaccinated for Newcastle disease and Fowl Pox, routinely dewormed with Piperazine every 3 months, supplementation with water and commercial layers mash.

–          259 chickens in total – all layers, housed by production stage (with separate housing for chicks with hens), sick chickens isolated from others.

–          Two sick chickens – one recovering, other very ill.

–          Very ill chicken – with shrunken pale combs and wattles, hunched posture, swollen eyes that were shut, ruffled feathers, and white pasty diarrhea.  The chicken was hock sitting and not moving and we saw lice on its neck.

We performed post-mortems on both chickens and know definitively what disease they have.  Can you tell?