Pole-pole Processes and #FirstWorldProblems

Mambo! Another week in Mwanza, Tanzania has passed and gone as quickly as the last. I can’t believe it’s June already. I feel as though I am getting more and more used to the life here as time goes by. That means getting used to the water running out twice a week, cold showers, a-not-so-cold fridge, hand-washing all my laundry, unpredictable WIFI speeds and not always having access to all the foods I normally would eat at home. Although on the surface level these things may seem bothersome, I am very well aware and conscious of the fact that these are problems that I am lucky to have, as there are many people here who don’t have access to these things for much longer than I can imagine. For that reason, I am actually very grateful and I am avoiding the urge to complain about these “first world problems,” that are in hindsight very minor adjustments.

The other interns and I are also all becoming more knowledgeable about our neighborhood and are slowly figuring out how to get to nearby places both by foot and by dala-dala (bus), even though we sometimes still get lost… Our Swahili could still use a lot of work, but we are able to use it for basic communication purposes now, which makes getting places and negotiating prices somewhat easier.

From a work standpoint, I feel like I am adjusting to the pole-pole (slow) processes that influence the work that the other interns and I have to get done here quite well. I am somewhat used to this type of work-life balance from previous experiences working in communities that have very different cultures and timelines compared to that of typical fast-paced North American societies. For example, it is commonplace for scheduled meetings that are supposed to start at 9am, to actually begin sometime closer to or even later than 11am.

We are also awaiting ethics approval from NIMR which oversees all the research done in the country before we can begin our Sensory Evaluation Study which has currently been put on halt. In the meantime, there are many other smaller projects and streamlining of current operations that I am glad to be able to help out with. But fingers crossed, we get ethics approval soon so that we can start collecting data for our study which will allow us to later reach out to other public institutions to collaborate with like schools, hospitals and other organizations in the area like Foundation Karibu, World Food Programme and Village of Hope.

               I think this past week, I also experienced my first bouts of missing home, family, and friends. Although short-lived, there was a point of time where I really wanted to be in the comfort of the people and places that I am most familiar with back at home. Nonetheless the experience of being in Tanzania for such an extended period of time is not something that I would trade. Last week an expat that we met through a mutual friend, took us out on his boat and we watched the sunset over Lake Victoria, and it was absolutely stunning.

We also found out this past week that we have a rooftop and that is my favourite spot for daily sunsets and also to look at the stars, it also has a wonderful view of the city centre which I really miss when it is time to return to Canada (some of my favourite moments are pictured below). Despite not being able to eat dairy products and fresh veggies as often, the food here is still great and I will also miss my daily samosas, fresh passion fruit and of course mishkaki, when it is no longer walking distance from my apartment. Thanks for tuning in and see you next week! Kwe Heri 😊

P.S. I know today’s not Thursday. I’m trying my best to keep up to date with these posts – I promise!

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