I’ve got some catching up to do on blog posts! I’ve been out in the bundu for the last 2 weeks with very little access to internet, and certainly not the internet speed required to open this blog, so that’s why things have been so quiet… And I didn’t have time to post this before I packed my bags and left Dar, so here goes now:
Friday 22 Nov was my last day at Tujijenge, where I’d worked since arriving in Dar Es Salaam in late September. The day started out quite normally, up at 5 (you read that right…) because I:
- was too hot to sleep,
- had had enough of lying in bed listening to the scamperings of the mouse that had recently taken up residence in my bedroom,
- thought I should try again to load the Aeroplan website (while the internet cable to North America was less busy) to book my air ticket to South Africa for Christmas,
- wanted to ensure my Thanksgiving blog post on Kiva actually posted according to the automated schedule,
- had to email the Barefoot Power locations in western Tanzania to finalize plans for my Kiva visit.
I walked to work at 8, and discovered that it was indeed Friday and not Thursday (per the web stuff I’d been doing for a timezone that is 11 hours behind) so I was supposed to be wearing my Tujijenge shirt which is the Friday tradition. I dashed back home and changed into team stripe:
We still had some work to finish off before I left, so Rita (the Kiva Co-ordinator), Yessaya (the first-year university student who is an intern here, and Rita’s assistant) and I got to it. Then Rita and I walked to a nearby restaurant for farewell lunch. How can it be that after 9 weeks I finally discovered a type of ugali (stiff maize-meal porridge that is the staple food here) that has some taste to it: brown ugali (i.e. unrefined, as in brown rice vs white rice)?
Mid-afternoon, the day took an unexpected turn when everyone assembled for my farewell celebration! Tujijenge had gone to town! There was a marvelous cake (baked by my landlord John, who runs a cake business from home on the side), an enormous card signed by everyone, a mystery gift in wrapping, and “sodas” all round.
Shafi (Tujijenge Managing Director, who I admire for his vision for the organization, and his commitment to microfinance clients) thanked me for my work, and presented the gift which turned out to be a length of lovely kitenge fabric.
I’ve greatly admired Rita’s kitenges (traditional Tanzanian-style skirt and top made from this printed cotton fabric) while I’ve been here. There was much hilarity as Rita wrapped it around me to give the general impression of the finished outfit!
Then the moment everyone had been waiting for – cake! And my favorite carrot cake too, because landlord John knew my preference from earlier discussions at home. We all agreed it was delicious. As Rita put it: That man can bake!
Great fun for all of us! And Rita was beside herself with excitement at how surprised and delighted I’d been, and how well the celebration turned out!
It’s been a real pleasure working for Tujijenge. They’ve all made me so welcome, and have been so helpful and open with information, and so willing to learn new ways of doing things, that we’ve achieved an enormous amount. They’ve made my time here feel very worthwhile. But they and I still think there’s more we could do together… So as much as I dislike being in Dar es Salaam itself (the intense heat, the appalling traffic, the fact of being in a city…), I’d love to continue working with Tujijenge and I’ve asked Kiva to let me return to Tanzania to continue next year. I guess at the end of the next round, the cake will have to be on me!