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!

 

Weather

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 😀

 

People

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”.

 

Project

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!

 

Transportation

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]

 

Legend:

*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?

Unexpectations

We’ve officially passed the month mark – it has been 31 days since we boarded our plane in Toronto to set off for Tanzania!  Since arrival, we’re had some great experiences, met some great people, and enhanced the Tanzanian Poultry Project a great deal.

 

A taste of what we’ve experienced so far

Food and Drink

Since we attempted our first cooking session, we’ve had the pleasure of being taught how to improve our African cooking skills.  Our good friend, Gaga, was nice enough to invite us into his home for an unexpected day-long marathon of cooking lessons with him and his sister, Stella.  The day started cruising through the market to get all of our ingredients.  First up on the menu: our breakfast staple, mandazi (donuts).  We were taught how to make the dough, knead and roll it out, cut it, and fry it to perfection.  The process is similar to making donuts back in Canada, but the addition of cardamom adds a new flare to our mandazi!  Second on the list was fresh juice!  Gaga really enjoys making juice for us and previously made us the most delicious avocado juice.  This time, he whipped up a tropical fruit juice made of pineapple, passion fruits, and bananas.  Alongside our juice, our third cooking lesson was kitimoto (pork).  Gaga showed us how to prepare kitimoto in a tasty tomato and green pepper sauce.  We then sat down together to enjoy our feast – the hard work (and 5 hours of cooking) paid off!

 

Weather

As we experimented with cooking for the first time last week, we enjoyed the hot sun and attempted to get tans (despite only a corner of our courtyard getting sun, we were pretty successful).  The rest of the week has been very cold.  We’ve been wrapped up in sweaters most of the time and Kellie has busted out her wool socks every day!  This is not what we expected African weather to be like…

 

Daily Life

After spending the week hard at work, we took yesterday (Saturday) off.  We planned a trip to a nearby beach but unfortunately our plans fell through when our friend’s car unexpectedly broke down.  We spent the day relaxing and enjoying the sun anyways though!  Since we’ve spent all our daylight hours working on the project this week, it was nice to spend a full day outside.

 

People

At the beginning of the week, we had an unexpected guest come to our house to check in on us.  It was Jeffery, a teacher at Ilima Secondary School, wanting to know if we were safe and well.  He graciously invited us to dinner at his home and we joined him, his wife, his mother, and his 3 children the next day.   We enjoyed a delicious meal together.  Jeffery even went out of his way to ensure our favourite beers were present (and cold!).  After dinner, he invited us to join the family the next night at a wedding ceremony.  We obviously had to accept the invitation – when else were we going to go to a Tanzanian wedding?  The ceremony was very nice but not what we had expected.  Compared to a wedding in Canada there were some similarities but definitely some differences too.  For example, there was a cake cutting ceremony (similar to Canada) but the sharing of the cake between members of the bridal party and the family of the groom played a very important role.  It was an interesting twist on what we’re used to back home.  Despite not understanding anything said during the ceremony, we were able to participate and have a great time!

 

Project

A lot of new things have happened with the project since our last update!  We spent all of last week meeting with teacher and student farmers in Ilima and Lubanda.  We didn’t expect it but some of the houses were far apart and on mountain sides so we definitely got our exercise!  It was great to see everyone’s coop and talk to them about their chickens.  After meeting with all the farmers, we took the information we gathered and sat down with Gaga to discuss our next steps.  We were all on the same page about what would be most useful and we excitedly planned our training sessions for the villages.  This week, we have been busy writing out the training materials and planning our lessons. Our sessions will touch on: the advantages of keeping local chickens, coop building, preferential care for chicks and hens, complete nutrition, disease and parasite control, vaccination, selection and breeding, proper record-keeping, and marketing of chickens and eggs.  After they are translated into Swahili, we’ll be teaching both villages with Gaga’s help – we can’t wait!

 

Transportation

We made a friend in Ushirika’s centre named Godlove.  He is a motorcycle driver who is very keen on improving his English and teaching us Swahili.  He has offered to drive us to various local landmarks to see what the Southern Highlands of Tanzania has to offer.  Since we are often looking amongst the motorcycles of the town to say hello to him, we’ve begun to notice a lot of unexpected items on the backs of motorcycles.  We thought we’d share our list with you.

Crazy Things We’ve Seen on the Back of Motorcycles in Tanzania:

  1. Too many people.
  2. A pig strapped to a board.
  3. A pile of no less than 20 large, plastic buckets stacked on their side.
  4. A loveseat.
  5. Chickens (both in cages and free).
  6. A 9 foot long metal door (we’re not even exaggerating)
  7. A bedframe – complete with head and foot boards.

 

Swahili word of the day

We’ve learned that Swahili is incredibly literal.  When saying goodbye to someone, we frequently say “Tutaonana” (“See You”) as we depart.  Often people will ask you to specify when they will see you.  For example: “See You Later” is “Tutaonana Baadaye” and “See You Tomorrow” is “Tutaonana Kesho”.  Since everyone always asks, we just started to say whatever we could remember at the time.  It turns out, people get really worried when you say you’ll see them later and you don’t actually show up later.  We’ve had many people track us down to find out if we’re ok and to determine where we were.  Who knew?  That was unexpected!

The Spice of Life – With Jodi and Kellie

Today (Sunday, June 9th) we made our first attempt at cooking, the Tanzanian way. In our opinion, we were quite successful; whipping up both a delicious pilau (spiced, fried rice) and a tasty vegetable stir fry. We even had enough charcoal left at the end to boil some water for tea!

While cooking we decided to issue a challenge to all of you at home. If you’re up for the challenge of cooking like we have to, here’s how to do it!

  1. Buy your standards: garlic, onions and ginger.
  2. Purchase two types of vegetables, probably carrots and peppers, because that’s all that is available at the market.
  3. Cut everything using a large chef’s knife (there are no pairing knives here) in the palm of your hand (there are no cutting boards either). Even the garlic… No cheating!
  4. Using one burner, on medium-high heat ONLY, cook your rice, and all your stir-fry vegetables. Don’t forget to check your charcoal level halfway through to make sure you have enough!
  5. Add the minimal spices you can find, mainly salt and “Pilau Masala Seasoning”, which consists of cloves, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon and cardamom.

Enjoy your meal! It only took you 2 hours to make it.

May at a Glance

We thought it would be nice, for you and for us, to write a blog to reflect on each month we’ve been here.  Looking back at a glance at May, we’ve had a lot of firsts, met with many different people, and visited a ton of places across Tanzania.  It’s been a great experience so far, as we hope you’ve gathered from our previous blogs, and it’s nice to be able to stop and reflect on where we’ve been and what we’ve done and exactly how it’s played into the progress of the project and into our lives here.

Settling into our Tanzanian lifestyle has been a definitely been a transition but we’re slowly figuring out how to combine our work life, our daily chores, and the limited daylight we have.  We’ve managed to navigate the markets, negotiate prices, master how to hand-wash our laundry, travel on buses, and speak basic Swahili.  Although our unwelcome house-guests (massive cockroaches and giant spiders) came as a surprise, we’ve managed to eliminate most of them and have developed plans of attack in case of their return.  We continue to develop our skills every day and we’re certain that eventually rural Tanzanian life will be a breeze!

Many of the meetings we had during our stay in Dar es Salaam and Morogoro got us involved with some of the universities and organizations working on interesting projects that address similar goals and objectives as the Tanzanian Poultry Project, directly and indirectly.  The conversations we had about One Health issues in Tanzanian gave us a really good perspective on how to tackle some of the concerns with our Tanzanian Poultry Project and how to approach working with the farmers to make the project a success.  Some of the connections we made also allowed us to work together on formulating a concept note proposal to the IDRC for future funding.  The ideas and potential direction that came out of that concept note may open new doors for the project and land us working on implementing the first stages of the project in August before we depart.  It’s a very exciting opportunity and we’re eager to expand the project and take it to new levels in Tanzania!

Travelling from Dar es Salaam through all the major cities to reach our home in Ushirika has also given us the opportunity to experience the beauty of Tanzania.  The landscape provides epic, picturesque scenery at every turn and the wildlife we met on our journey through Mikumi National Park will definitely be a lasting memory for us.  However, the greatest beauty of Tanzania has been its people.  The kindness, generosity, and appreciation from everyone we’ve met has been absolutely overwhelming.  The excitement of the children at Ilima Primary School as they sang and clapped when they saw us, the generosity of the school teachers and teacher farmers who provided us food at our meetings, and the warm and welcoming nature of everyone we’ve met has made the transition much easier on both of us.  We’re so thankful that our first month here has been filled with such positive experiences!

We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about our adventures thus far as much as we’ve enjoyed living them.  It’s great to be able to share our experiences with everyone and give all of you an idea about what it’s like to be here in Tanzania working on the Poultry Project.  If there is anything you want to know, please leave us a comment so we can give you the inside scoop – we would love to share even more with you!

Ushirika, Tanzania – A Place Where Small Victories Can Seem Huge

We are now settling into our home in Ushirika – we’ve transitioned out of the move-around hotel lifestyle and into our permanent African residence.  It’s been an adjustment but we’re managing well and getting the hang of life here.  This weekend, after unpacking and doing some organizing, we explored our new town (which takes about 5 minutes to walk through) – we found a few places to eat, made some new friends, and discovered what the Sunday market has to offer.  The highlight of the entire weekend, was finding peanut butter (siagi ya karanga) in the market; what would merely be a small victory, if even that, by Canadian standards.  However, after visiting more shops than we can count and having numerous shop-keepers and vendors look at us like we had six heads, we finally stumbled upon a vendor with 1000g of the liquid gold!  Let the delicious peanuty-celebrations begin 🙂