It's the end of my first work week in Tanzania and I have to keep reminding myself that I've made it. It's been a blur so far, mostly because I got right to work due to the schedule of one of the NGOs whose project I was visiting.
I arrived in Arusha Tuesday night and left Wednesday morning for Singida, a rural region with the main town about a five-hour drive south-west of Arusha. Most people there depend on farming for a livelihood, although it sounds like it's mostly to feed their families: I was told a few times that "My husband doesn't have a job, he's a farmer."
It was a quick re-introduction to how differently people live than the majority of Canadians. One woman close to my age has six children and primary school education. When I told her we were about the same age, she laughed like I was making a hilarious joke. Once I started interviewing, I realized there was more than a Swahili-English language barrier: the words and concepts used in international development have very little meaning to someone with almost no education who likely hasn't travelled outside her region.
I visited several sites for the World Vision Canada project in Singida, which ended at the end of March (the staff have been kept on for a few months to wrap it up). Unsurprisingly, the people I spoke to want it to continue for at least another two years. While the doctors I interviewed have relatively pricey requests like a new operating theatre, other health workers hope for more simple items. One nurse said she'd really like a light for the exam room so they can insert IUDs (a form of long-term birth control) there rather than trying to get into the district's only operating theatre. A community health worker said he'd like some rain gear or even an umbrella because when he visits families during the rainy season, his materials get soaked.
The first visit has me energized and raring to go to the next location. More photos to come next week.