6 Months

In this post I’ll point out a few problems arising when doing a gap year in a country that far away with such a different society.

 

  1. Problems within the society

    You’ll always stay white. As stupid as this might sound, as much as there might change during the stay here in Tanzania, one thing will never change. As time goes on it’s something you start noticing more and more as you try to integrate yourself into the local society and it works. It works with the people you meet and who get to know you. It is satisfying in a way to see that people notice the common image of Foreigners might not apply to you. You are not the person who comes and takes pictures of everything without asking. You speak their language and know how to treat them in a way they might not be offended. You eat their food, drink their drinks and even you have to wash your clothes with your hands. So far so good. Then comes the point, and this happens I would say every day, where you meet new people and I guarantee you, 90% of the time the same old image applies to you. Children or teenagers not greeting you with the normal Swahili phrases but with „Give me money“, random people on the street asking for things you’re carrying around with you or people expecting consideration for things like showing you which way to go. These things are annoying and demotivating, even though understandable that it happens.

  2. Problems with friendships
    This ties together with the previously mentioned statement, that you are always different and have a certain image associated with yourself by being white. You meet many people everyday on the street, it is common, and often fun, for people to just approach you and start talking to you. In theory, it would seem that it must be horribly easy to make some friends, as you meet so many people. There is two things which separate theory and practice in this case. One is the previously mentioned one. As a foreigner you are automatically, thus not by your own will, put in a higher position. Often people assume you are something better because you’re white/come from europe/have more money. E.g.: On my first day of coming to football practice, the coach introduced me and without knowing me he made me a coach as well and said for example that the practice can now also start when I’m there not only when he comes. Most of the people playing there are either my age or older than me. In a friendship I don’t really want to be in a position where it is assumed that I am something better. The second obstacle is mistrust. I’m ashamed of myself to see me creating a certain mistrust against people who I meet. This is due to the fact that I ask myself:“Why do they want to meet me even though they don’t know me at all?“ It is a fact that people often approach you because they want money, be friends with a white person or whatever, but just like that there are many many people who just want to get to know you. As I’m not in a position to judge what the reasons are, I think I have often mistreated/offended people. For me this is one of the roughest points as I like to have loads of people around me, especially good friends who I can trust and have fun with.

  3. Responsibility
    This is probably one of the difficulties from which I can learn the most but which is also quite a burden. Often I have to make decisions which I think are decisions a person with my experience or age can not and/or should not have to make. Often these decisions have to do with handling money. It is completely normal that people will come and ask you to lend them money for different kind of things as they know that you are probably able to do so. Often somehow people ask for sums where I myself have to calculate whether or not I am able to lend this money and how it is going to affect my own financial situation. The problem is that people do not ask you to lend them money so they can buy themselves a new big Television, but for rather serious things like for example money to cover hospital bills or paying their rent which needs always needs to be paid for the next half year in advance. This puts myself into the position where I have to decide whether I am going to restrict myself by lending money which I possibly don’t have myself or the other person can’t get medical treatment for themselves or somebody in their family. Of course morally it is completely self-evident that you give a friend or an acquaintance of yours money to go to the hospital, but realistically I would not be always able to do so. Further you also want to try to not be perceived as somebody who gives everyone the money they want as part of why we are here is to create an exchange between our cultures without it being skewed due to material issues.

 

These are some of the problems arising in my gap year and I thought were important to point out, especially for those who are interested in doing a gap year. As usual feel free to give me feedback on everything, especially on what you think how one can handle these problems.

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Likizo – Holidays – Ferien

Since I haven’t posted a blog entry in so long I have now posted two blog entries. One of them on my second journey and the other one on general problems in my voluntary year and my stay here, which I feel need to be told as well.

One month break in December 2013

Starting on the 30th of November I went on a big journey around the north of Tanzania lasting nearly one month. In this blog I’ll try to describe the things we saw, felt and experienced. I’ll write a few lines about what we did there and then a general summary of the differences to Dar. 

Here is a map of my route to give you a little overview of where we went.Bild

 

Tanga

Tanga was the first stop on tour, which I started with my co-volunteer Rika. (Definitely check out her blog as well: HERE (German)). It all started with a pretty normal bus ride from Dar-es-Salaam, which was supposed to be around five hours long, but ended up being around 9 hours long. Tanga is located at the north coast of Tanzania and is a fairly smaller town than Dar-es-Salaam, where I live. Due to the enormous difference in size and inhabitants (Tanga around 300.000 and Dar around 3 Million people) we were shocked as we entered the town, as for us this was something which didn’t seem like the Tanzania we knew. For us so far the image of what Tanzania looked like, was mostly created by Dar-es-Salaam and Tanga was simply the opposite. It was calm, clean and cold. Well to be honest, it was probably still warm, but compared to Dar-es-Salaam it was cold. There wasn’t much sight seeing possible in Tanga, but we just enjoyed the calmness of the town for a few days, rented bicycles to just stroll around for a bit and looked at the Amboni Caves. It is still said that there are ghosts living there and when you go inside you can see places where people are still performing rituals for their local believe inside these cavesBild

Lushoto

Lushoto is a tiny village located in the Usambara-Mountains and used to be a mildly important town when Tanzania was a German colony. It’s located up in the mountains so we decided to organise some nice walks for the next two days up the mountains. What was amazing about these hikes was that the nature was completely different to everything I had seen before in Tanzania, having more of a green jungle atmosphere. Also we took advantage of the still present German past, as we were able to get some proper brown bread and nice jam on a farm close to Lushoto.Bild

Moshi

In Moshi our third volunteer Leonie (Also definitely check out her blog HERE (German)) joined us and we stayed at a lovely coffee farm, which allowed us to also see what happens with the coffee until you get it in your cup every morning and where we had a lovely look onto the Kilimanjaro. While staying in Moshi we visited the Arusha National Park for one day where we saw loads of Giraffes, Zebras, Gnus and loads of Flamingos.BildBild

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Arusha National Park:

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Arusha

Arusha is the capital of Tanzania’s tourism as it is close to the Serengeti. The city itself is not very exciting, especially as you’re often aggressively approached by people wanting to sell you some tours to the surrounding National Parks. In the end we ended up doing exactly that, going to the Ngorongoro Crater for one day. Inside the crater you find yourself in a somehow unreal place due to its remoteness and as you are surrounded by hundreds of animals.BildBild

Dodoma

Dodoma is the capital city of Tanzania and somehow reminded me of an old Western town due to the Architecture and Climate. Just like all the other cities, Dodoma was extremely clean compared to Dar-es-Salaam and once again had a very different climate compared to every other city we visited.

Only after travelling around for a month I was able to see how diverse Tanzania was in its culture, nature climate and people. This was noticeable often in language, e.g. people using a different vocabulary in different parts (or even another language like some people in Lushoto) or the differences in landscapes, going from a big big city like Dar, to small green hills with banana tress, to mountains, to a jungle like nature, to a big crater, to the desert around Dodoma and back to the big big city. 

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Wedding and first holidays (2 Months)

Wedding

Last week it was the first time we were invited to a wedding, by a dancing coach who has been on good terms with a few generations of volunteers from my organization. A wedding, just like where I have noticed in Europe, a very special event. The event lasted the whole weekend, of which we only attended the Sunday celebration, so we skipped the Church part. The celebration was to start at  7 p.m. and we were a bit late and started getting fairly nervous about coming late to the wedding celebrations and ran into the complex when we arrived at about 5 past 7. We came in and everyone looked at us. From the three hundred invited people about 15 were there already, needless to say that neither the bride nor groom were there yet. After another half hour more and more people slowly joined us. I would guess after an hour it started to get a bit more silent and people started turning around to the entrance. Now the lights were dimmed down and the bridesmaids accompanied by the groomsmen danced in.

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This photo shows the hallway through which they danced and while they did so there was loud music blasting through the speakers. You’d think that maybe for a wedding there is some sort of other music which they play, than the music which you hear blasting on every corner, but no. There were three entrances: Bridesmaids + groomsmen, Maid of honour + Best man and Maid + Groom. Each one of these entrances was accompanied by one of the chart songs like „Tupogo“ or „Personally„; click on the songs to listen to them. (You can compare these songs to chart songs like „Blurred lines“ or „Get lucky“) This included that sort of dancing, so there is definitely no waltz to be found anywhere on a Tanzanian wedding. The evening was very structured and there wasn’t really specific times for people to talk in which nothing was happening. This led to people generally having their conversations while the program kept going, which was a different feeling to German weddings where when someone is saying something in front of the whole crowd everyone with small exceptions would be listening to that person.This program went on for about 4 hours with a lot of breaks for dancing in between, which is sometimes just random dances, but also dances which are danced simultaneously, thus a known dance or even dance groups. Even though there were hundreds of guests the groom always managed to put us in the focus of everyone. Every time he said something he would mention his „friends from Germany“ in some kind of way either by inviting us to go to the stage and dance (Where we all didn’t move and pretended we didn’t hear anything) or by inviting us to the stage to sing a traditional German song which he knew the whole lyrics off by heart, „Heidi“. (We didn’t) At the end of the evening every guest came to the front and handed the couple their present, which was mostly just money. Once again the groom used the opportunity to ask us up to the stage again after everyone gave their presents just to emphasize again how great our present was. This was also mentioned again in a text message sent to all the attendees the next morning. I’m telling this not to say how great present was, which it still was, but to show how special it is to be white here in Tanzania.

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1. One of the synchronized dances 2. Us six, who attended

Holidays in Mafia

For my first week of holidays I went to an island in the south of Tanzania called Mafia, with an ex-volunteer and her friend, Laura and Sophia. The Island is a beautiful untouched place, as it has not been flooded by tourists until now, other than the even in Europe known „Zanzibar“. This had its advantages and its disadvantages. One of the advantages was that it had beautiful white beaches where you wouldn’t be able to find another tourist if  you tried. I’m pretty sure there were not more than 50 tourists on the whole Island, which is not too small. One of the disadvantages is that the Infrastructure to get to this Island is obviously not as advanced as the Infrastructure to Zanzibar. There is the possibility of flying to Mafia, but we didn’t want to spend 115 Euro, where we could spend 10 Euro. So we decided to take the ferry. The ferry didn’t go from Dar-es-salaam directly but you had to take a daladala (Minibus) for about 4 hours to a small fishing village down south. We arrived there in the late evening around 10 p.m. and got ourselves a guesthouse to get a bit of sleep before the ferry would leave at around 4.30 a.m. as we were told. Much sleep wasn’t in for us as we were kept awake for quite a while by monkeys jumping on the roof our room and making loud screaming noises. Eventually we fell asleep for a few hours and then woke up early and punctual as we were just to find the whole fishing village still asleep. Literally, you would walk around the village and everywhere people would be wrapped into blankets. On the counter of the ferry ticket salesmen, on all the goods which were standing ready to be deported to Mafia and so on. As soon as we woke everyone up the ferry left. The ferry ended up leaving at 7.30. We call that Tanzanian timing.

It is hard to describe the size of the ferry but let’s say it like this: The evening before we were told to wake up early to buy a ticket as the ferry only had space for around 45 people. To be honest I was a bit bored on the ferry as it was a four hour ride so I just decided to count the amount of people on the ferry and I stopped counting at somewhere around 120 people. I“d love the show a photo but I did not want to take a picture in between all the people and off the people. But following there is a picture of the boat which held 120 people.

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When we arrived in Mafia it was high-tide so we were picked up with small boats in which everyone had to jump and in which the goods were handed down:

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And the minibus:

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All this still ended up being worth it as the Island was very much like Paradise you would say. We spend about four days on the Island and were fascinated by the end. One day we went snorkeling for about four hours with a small wooden boat and another day we went out with a bit of a bigger boat to look for Whale Sharks, which the Island is famous for as there is quite a few living just by the Island. Thirty minutes on the water we spotted Dolphins quite far away but the „captain“ of the boat didn’t even have eyes for them as he had already spotted a Humpback whale (Buckelwal). We followed the whale around a bit and I didn’t quite get the whole situation but it seems like every few minutes or so the whale takes a break and chills at the same place for a bit. Whenever this situation came we had to be as close as possible to be able to jump in and swim next to it. This didn’t workout too well even though I did get a good glance at the mother and its child. They were massive and there were loads of small little fish swimming around them. At some point the captain stopped following the Humpback whales and we went out to find what we wanted to see, Whale sharks. After around three hours looking for them and not finding any we were ready to go home when one of the Tanzanian guys spotted a whale shark in the water. To be honest I didn’t see anything and I still wonder how he was able to spot him as there was literally nothing but a little black shadow and quite far away. Anyway we followed the whale shark and it was a lot easier to come close and jump in. The whale shark is an extremely peaceful animal so it didn’t start swimming away real quick but just kept strolling around in its slow pace so that we were easily able to follow it around for a good twenty minutes while being very close to the whale shark. I would guess it was around 12 meters long, but it is hard to estimate in the water. Anyway that as well was an amazing experience and I would advise everyone who ever gets the opportunity to try it. The next day we already made our way back, this time with the ferry actually living at 5.30 in the morning and one of the tires of the minibus exploding, and I mean exploding, on the way back from the fishing village to Dar. Exciting stuff.

Whale Shark Picture

The whale shark, me on the left

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Mafia Island

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Laura (l.), Sophia (r.) and me on the snorkeling trip

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A little boy we met on the beach who literally smiled 24/7. He gave us a little tour around Utenge, a village on Mafia Island:

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Once again thanks for reading!

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1 1/2 Months

How you doing.

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Here I am again trying to write down whats happening:

The main event I want to talk about is the „Goodbye Party“ and „Welcome Party“ for my predecessor Paula and me. This happened at my project and was quite the big event, a lot bigger than I expected anyway. About 100 people came and there were a lot of stage plays, music being played by several groups, partly from our own project, partly from other projects, and a lot of dancing. This was all in all very amusing and I felt very welcomed, especially with all the signs which were hung up saying „WELCOME TSE CORNELIUS“ or „WELCOME TECHA CORNY“ (TSE = Talent Search and Empowerment, the project). The most embarrassing and at the same time enjoyable moment was probably when me and my predecessor were invited to the „stage“ and were kind of forced to dance with a few people. It’s fun, but imagine how one looks like dancing in between people who generally have a very, lets call it rhythmic body movement. Down here are a few pictures of the event:

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Generally things are moving pretty fast when looking at how we’re settling in. Our predecessors are here for one more week but they already moved out quite a few weeks ago so since then we’ve been in the apartment on our own, thus doing all this stuff I never had to do like…. buying toilet paper or things like that, you know…! This situation has also somehow forced us into speaking kiswahili which is still a bit odd and I keep throwing around the few verbs which I know which probably often ends up being weird combinations or me mixing with English like: I arrived four weeks ago. I know „I arrived“ (Nimefika) so I just finish the sentence with English words and end up saying: „Nimefika four weeks“. So not even proper English. Still we keep learning and it enables us to have more and different experiences compared to when you just speak English, as of course only a certain part of the society speaks English, generally the wealthier part. One of these experiences was my first lifti. (using English words and just putting an „i“ at the end is very common. i.e.: keyboardi (keyboard), balanci (scale), weeki (weeks) and so on…) Hitch hiking is not like in Germany or generally in Europe but it’s more on the back of some pick up truck and usually they ask for some money. Actually, I just want to show you the photo so here you go:

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It’s always good talking about the good things but in the end I want to give a realistic image of Tanzania here and not give you a wrong impression that it’s all just good. Tanzania is dirty. The following picture is of course not what it is like in every street, but neither is it rare. The fascinating thing is, you get used to it. At some point I stopped seeing all the black plastic bags flying around everywhere but it is a very noticeable when you arrive.

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Well now you’ve got a few positive looks on Tanzania but also a small negative one. The best would probably to just look at it yourself if you want to have a proper image of it 🙂
The following Pictures:

1. Chipsi Mayai, talked about it in my last blog post, is french fries/chips with egg. In this version there is a Ketchup like sauce on top. It’s nice.

2. The view from the third project of my organisation which is outside Daressalam.You’re not looking at the center of Dar es Salam, but it’s Tanzania….

3. My room.

If you’ve made it till here, you might also be interested in supporting me in this project and financing it.

If you are please donate whatever you wish to donate to the following bank account information:

At the moment I don’t know how people from outside Germany could donate so here is only the German Account Information at the moment:

Verwendungszweck: Cornelius von Lenthe

                              Kawaida
KtoNr: 2007860601
BLZ: 43060967
BIC: GENO DE M 1 GLS
IBAN: DE68 4306 0967 2007 8606 00
GLS Gemeinschaftsbank eG

Thanks for all the support and continuous requests for updates 🙂

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Power Outage

4-5 Days power outage announced. 2 Days so far. 20 Minutes of electricity by generator every evening

Power Outage

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