Hello, hello! It has officially been 2 weeks of living in Mwanza, Tanzania and at this point in time, I am so excited that this will be my home for the next 3.5 months. Mwanza is truly a beautiful city at both day and night, and so far, most of the people seem very friendly and always stop and try to make conversation. Although the other interns (there’s Sara, Amber, Nareesa) and I have been trying to pick up as much Swahili as we can, it has been difficult adjusting to the language barriers especially in local markets and restaurants, however, the Swahili Master-chart on OWL has been quite helpful as a starting place. Nareesa’s family, particularly her Uncles Riyaz and Minaz, have been extremely kind and shown us lots of hospitality since our very first day here. It feels very comforting to know that we have people looking out for us and to give us the ins and outs of the city.
I really love the neighborhood we live in, as we can hear the adhan 5 times a day, which gives me a sense of familiarity to home and it is a perfect way to start and end each of my days. I definitely will try to follow the sounds to find the local Sunni Mosque so that I can go there on Fridays and for Eid prayers. Hotel Tilapia, Malika Beach, and Rock Beach Garden are all quite touristy resorts, but we will most definitely be taking advantage of their swimming pools, because the Tanzanian sun is strong and most of the days are quite HOT. These resorts also have nice summer vibes and a wide selection of food, for days that we don’t feel like cooking. We’ve also had the opportunity to try local Tanzanian foods and I have fallen in love with Mishkaki – grilled skewered meats somewhat similar to Middle Eastern kebabs, I honestly think that I could eat it everyday.
The bananas, pineapples, avocados, and oranges here are all very different from back home too, but in a good way. We also tried a traditional Tanzanian meal comprised of whole fish, ugali and spinach greens which was also quite tasty, but the portion sizes were so huge that we had to share. Riyaz uncle also took us to an Indian restaurant where we had the best tandoori chicken, masala fries and freshly squeezed mango/passion fruit juices.
Our first few weeks of work have consisted of travelling to various different yogurt kitchens in the Mwanza area to introduce ourselves as Mikono Yetu’s newest interns and to conduct the annual quality assurance interviews. A few reoccurring themes that we’ve seen within the kitchens has been the inaccessibility of high-quality milk, and the high costs associated with obtaining such milk to make the yogurt.
For this reason, I am excited to begin working on the Sensory Evaluation Research Study that Nareesa and I will be dedicating a good portion of our time towards. This study was started in collaboration with Western Heads East interns from both 2017/2018 and two other interns heading to JKUAT in Nairobi, Kenya this summer. The main objective of the study is to assess whether or not probiotic fruit juices or uji are a viable alternative to probiotic yogurt in both Tanzania and Kenya. More specifically, we are interested in finding out if there is a demand and a market for these non-dairy probiotic products which could address the inaccessibility and low-quality milk issues present within Fiti kitchens across Tanzania and Kenya.
As similar as life can be here as in Canada, it can also be quite different from a cultural standpoint. I personally have really enjoyed the vibrant displays of culture that we’ve witnessed since coming to Tanzania whether that be through different forms of music, food, language, religion and also mannerisms. It is interesting to compare life here with that back home, because the two seem so similar yet so different at the same time. Between Nareesa’s family, some expats, the Ivey students, staff of Mikono Yetu, SAUT, and all the individual yogurt kitchens, we have managed to have find a social circle here that I am very thankful for. It makes me very excited for the adventures that the upcoming weeks will most definitely bring. If you’re still reading: Asante and stay tuned for weekly updates of my time in Tanzania which I will post (hopefully) each Thursday!