Kitchens, Gongs and Goats on the Daler

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It seems so much has happened since my last post.  Thus, I have decided to include some random snippings and smatterings of what has happened in the last little while.

Typhoid and Malaria

Contracting typhoid and malaria was NOT a pleasant experience.  However, it was much less serious than it sounds.  In Canada we view these foreign, tropical diseases as extremely serious and scary, which, if left untreated they can be.  But the hospitals here see so many cases of typhoid and malaria that treating them is pretty standard.  Medication and rest is pretty much all you need.

Kitchens

We have been doing a lot traveling to the various kitchens lately – some are a fairly long ride from the city centre.  The kitchens are spreading so rapidly – there are soon to be 9 open in Mwanza alone – two of them being run by youth groups.

I was surprised to find out how important the probiotic yogurt is not only the health of people living with HIV/AIDS, but for maternal and infant health as well.  Four of the kitchens were started through groups of mothers with children who are underweight.  The yogurt is a fantastic supplement to their otherwise nutrient deficient diets.  Underweight babies who drink the yogurt usually grow to a healthy weight in less than two months.

To get to these kitchens, we take a ‘daladala’ (dalers for short) a sort of public bus – made for 12 passengers – but with a more the merrier attitude.  The most packed I’ve seen thus far is a daler with 25 people, 1 chicken.  Last week, our seat mate was a full grown goat.

Language

Although language can be a huge obstacle here, it also provides a lot of comedic relief.  Last week we went to yoga on the beach at a local hotel – it was beautiful.  Afterwards we were talking with the instructor about our plans for the weekend.  This is how the conversation went:

Musa (yoga instructor) “We are going to go to the club this weekend so we can shake our bones.”  Me “What? We’re going to shake our buns?” “No, we’re going to shake our bones.” “Oh, ok, we’re going to shake our buns.” “No, we’re going to shake our BONES.” “Shake our bongs? Is that a musical instrument? (I make a hand motion like I am shaking maracas).  “WE ARE GOING TO SHAKE OUR BONES.” “Yes, we’re going to shake our BONGS. Are they like bongo drums?” “No, no instruments we are going to shake our BONES.” Me: “Ohhhhhhhhh we are going to shake our bones. Like bones in our bodies. I get it.”

Maybe you had to be there. I thought it was hysterical.

 

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Another Form of Justice

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The other night, while we were making dinner, Missy ran into the kitchen and told me to come out to the balcony.  I could hear yelling in the streets, so I rushed out to see what was going on.   Missy said that a man had been beaten and left in the street.  He was lying motionless in the middle of the road while people stared from a distance.  Finally, someone went over and nudged him with their foot and he began to move.  Moody could hear what people were saying on the street and told us that the man had stolen a can of beer, which is why he had been beaten up.

When we were assured that the man was ok and had limped off, we sat down to dinner and discussed the type of “justice” that exists here in Tanzania.  The police are not a particularly trustworthy bunch here – they can be bribed to do just about anything if you have the cash.  I asked Moody what the police think of citizens taking justice into their own hands – and he said that the police encouraged it, because it means that they don’t have to deal with bringing them into the station.  He said that thieves (if they are caught) are lucky to get away with their life – because they are often beaten to death or sometimes even set on fire in the streets.  At first I thought it was kind of comforting or endearing that your neighbours would come to your rescue if they knew you were a victim of a crime.  That since the police can not be counted on to deliver justice, then the community will take it upon themselves.  But then I began to wonder – is it really justice if a man is beaten to death for stealing a can of beer? Or set on fire in the middle of the street for stealing a cell phone? Or stoned to death in the market for stealing a loaf of bread?

You would think that this type of punishment would deter people from stealing – and perhaps it does, but there still seems to be a rampant amount of crime here.  I sincerely hope that I am not witness to this vigilantism before I leave –  I think I would truly be scarred for life.

 

5 Things I learned at the Club this Weekend

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On Saturday, Missy took me out to a dancing club in town called Villa.  Let’s just say it was an incredible cultural learning experience.

  1. It’s ok to show your Man Love here.  It’s ok for men to hold hands. It’s ok for men to ‘dirty dance’ or ‘bump and grind’ with each other. Men can happily do any of these things without people assuming that they are gay.
  2. The Music – There is quite a variety of music here.  There is obviously a lot of African music, but people enjoy North American music too. Shaggy is a God here.  People can’t get enough of him.  Bieber fever made it to Africa too. Missy and I proudly told our African friends that he lived REALLY CLOSE to us in Canada, as everyone crooned and grooved to “One Time.”
  3. Boys dance way more than girls do here.  And they really like to dance with each other.  For the better part of the night, most boys got their man dance on and ignored every female at the bar.
  4. The clubs here are really ‘all ages.’ 12 year olds are more than welcome if they’ve got a couple thousand shillings they’re ready to part with.
  5. This last one is a generalization, but African’s are REALLY good dancers.  I felt pretty incompetent for most of the evening.