Unfortunately, my time in Tanzania came to an end. I was not ready to leave but had so much to come home to that extending my stay wouldn’t have been possible. I was able to squeeze humanitarian work, sightseeing and relaxation into the trip. Even though I tried to stay on top of the blogging, it was hard to capture every aspect. Hopefully, this recap sums everything up.
Dar es Salaam– Our first week in Dar es Salaam was packed with meetings at different United Nations agencies, NGOs and government offices. The meetings were generally centered around the emergency phase of the recent refugee influx at Camp Nyaragusu and the displacement of people in Dar es Salaam as a result of flooding.
We met with a micro-finance savings group who took us to one of their project sites in Mabwepande, Dar es Salaam. Members of the community were resettled in the area as a result of the heavy floodings that occurred in Dar es Salaam in 2011. Since the area was not developed prior to the relocation of these populations, it lacks facilities such as schools, hospitals and markets. From my understanding they were given land, sand and cement to rebuild homes ,however, delivery have been slow. We met with a few community members who were gracious enough to show us around their yards. Women who break brick are able to make a living and save towards building a more sufficient house. However, we met with one widow who has been faced with rough times and is very vulnerable. As a single parent she is unable to save and expand on her house.
Zanzibar– Zanzibar was the most beautiful and calming place that I have been to. It’s a pity that this part of Africa is often not showed but the #theafricathemedianevershows movement brought light to this. Apart from the gorgeous beaches it was also a great cultural experience being welcomed by the Masai people along with the tour of Stone Town. It was actually in Zanzibar that we first had authentic Tananian food.
Kigoma– Visiting the refugee camp was the highlight of the trip. It was a very rare and life changing experience. Visiting the camp is heavily regulated and exclusive. It was great insight into the plight of refugees and first hand experience in the of the daily operations of a refugee camp. Even distributing essential items to the new arrivals was a memorable experience and reaffirmed me that I indeed chose the right career path.
Most of our meals were at the hotel but we did get to explore and eat out for all of our lunches and some dinners. The meals were very heavy and in large portions but nonetheless, very delicious. I personally enjoyed the wide variety of seafood and organic juices. I had octopus and squid for the first time.
Tanzania is known for its bongo flavor style of music and its most popular superstar, Diamond Platnumz, who is perhaps the most loved and decorated East African artist currently. The music was a great blend of local artist along with artists from Uganda, Nigeria and other parts of Africa. I was no stranger to African music as we listen to a lot of it in Guyana and throughout the West Indies. I was surprised at how much reggae they played on Tanzania, one venue played nothing but reggae music.
The official currency is the Tanzanian Shilling (TSH) but USD is widely accepted.
I found the prices to be very affordable as a Westerner. However, in the Expat neighborhoods and western restaurants the prices are almost the same in they are in America. However, outside of the tourist traps things are fairly cheap. Tourism on a whole in East Africa can be expensive when trying to arrange as a foreigner but once in the country it is way cheaper. Booking safaris online through external companies tend to be very expensive as opposed to booking tours through local companies while in the country.
Overall, I had an amazing time in Tanzania. I was able to experience so much but still has so much more to experience. The people were very welcoming and friendly. We were constantly greeted with “Karibu”(Welcome). I was especially impressed at how unified they were and did not allow themselves to be ethnically divided. I regret not being able to stay longer and travel to other parts of Africa but I will definitely be returning whether it be for working purposes or vacation. I have to return to visit Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Gombe, Pemba and other parts of the mainland.
Outside of the excitement of going to Africa for the first time, the trip allowed me numerous opportunities to reflect on my career goals. I am open to moving to Tanzania so gain some field experience since so many NGOs and UN agencies do development work in the country. Specifically, the experience has inspired me to work with refugees in emergency situations. There were even changes in my personal life as certain things came full force.
It not goodbye, it’s until next time!