Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Car

This past week has possibly been one of the most frustrating ones I've ever had in Tanzania. But it's Saturday now, and it's looking like it will all work out fine. 

I'll start with the car, then fill you in on some other things which I've been doing. Something I've been thinking about for quite a while is that I don't earn any money whilst I am in Tanzania. Not having an income is by far one of my biggest concerns. So I've thought for a while of something which I could do which would allow me to get an income and do the projects at the same time. I decided that I would buy a car, with the intent of using it for getting to the projects and also for renting it out to safari companies for an income. I spoke to some people to get advice on a good vehicle to invest in. Adam helped me out quite a lot. Eventually I decided to get a Land Rover TDI 300 pick up truck. It's perfect as I would be able to use it for the projects for carrying materials in the back, and it's also very economical, it doesn't use much fuel. Safari companies use trucks like these as 'supply trucks' for camping safari's. When they have a camping safari, instead of stuffing all of the camping gear, food and water etc in the truck with the clients, they have a supply truck drive it around and drop it off. It saves time and it's more professional. As I had to use quite a lot of money to buy the car itself, I didn't really want to do separate cash withdrawals everyday until I had enough cash. So, I transferred the money to Mike, which allowed to take it out in one chunk and just pay a small transfer fee. After a good week of waiting around, and people telling me that the car which I should buy would be coming tomorrow, I finally got it. 

To be honest, it wasn't in the greatest nick, but the engine is in perfect condition. I didn't realise at the time how much money I would need to spend to fix it all up and prepare it for safari's so I was quite surprised when I found out. I've probably spent just over another £1000 on fixing it all up, including insuring it and paying for the road license (which was out of date by two years so I had to pay penalty fines, as if that would ever be allowed at home). It's great now though, it's not fully insured yet but I've driven it around a few times, it's a really good car. It needs a few other bits and bobs fixing up but nothing big. The whole thing stressed me out quite a lot though. I spent a good few days just hanging around in the garage, being told what needed doing, and just handing out cash for it to get done. People work so slowly here, so it took a while to get it all done, it's so frustrating. It's worked out though. I have a meeting with a big safari company on Monday regarding renting the car out for the whole of the high season. Which is July until the end of August. I could get around $150 a day for it, which is great, I just hope the deal goes through. You might be wondering how I'm going to get to the projects if my car is rented out. Well, I already struck a deal to rent one of his pick up trucks for cheap whenever I need it. I'm also thinking about going and staying in Duka Bovu for three weeks whilst the next project is being done. It will be nice to get away from the city for a little while. It will give me a bit of time to relax and focus on what I'm here for. 

I remember that I promised to update you on Mama Mary's new fruit and vegetable business. Well, good news all around tonight, the business is going great. I wasn't too sure the first time I popped down as I was alone and Mama Mary was talking about wanting to sell cooked banana's too, so I was worried she was struggling. But when I visited on Sunday, Agripina was working at the shop, and everybody else was at home. When I arrived at the house, I noticed that all of the children were eating rice and beans. I was instantly happy. I'll explain why. Most of the time when I ever used to go around to Mama Mary's, if I hadn't given her any money for food for the week, they would all just eat ugali and spinach. Which is definitely the cheapest meal over here. Ugali is just maize flower cooked in water until it goes stodgy. It fills you up, but not for very long, and it has no protein or nutrients inside. It's definitely not something which growing children should be eating twice every day. So seeing them eating food which is that little bit more expensive really made me feel like I had achieved something. Beans are expensive here, and they are a good source of protein. I would much rather see the kids eating this every day than ugali and spinach! I hung around for a while that day, ate a little and then headed off to Mama Zulfa's house. Zulfa goes to Golgotha school and I have become very close to her and her mother over the past couple of years. Her mother is HIV+, which is extremely unfortunate, but luckily enough, Zulfa is negative. Zulfa has had a nasty cough over the past few months, and I had promised Mama Zulfa that I would take her to the hospital when I had the chance to get her checked out. I drove up to their house with Yvie, a volunteer who I had taken down to meet Mama Mary a couple of times, and popped in to say hello. Unfortunately for Yvie and I, Mama Zulfa had just finished cooking rice and fish, so we had to eat again. I was already stuffed from eating at Mama Mary's, so I found it really hard to eat anymore. Thankfully I know Mama Zulfa well enough to explain to her that we were both so full after eating at Mama Mary's, and we really weren't able to finish the whole bowl of rice. She was cool with it. After a little while, and waiting for Zulfa to try on about six different outfits as she new she was going into town, we headed to the hospital. I told Mama Zulfa that we wouldn't be long and that I would return her shortly. 

I took Zulfa to Selian Hospital. It's a Christian hospital, and is where Jennica had to spend a few nights last year when she was sick. I'd been there myself previously so I knew that it was good. We were seen very quickly (which makes a change here) and I spoke in length with the doctor about Zulfa and her mother's medical history. He checked her breathing etc and explained that because this cough had been going on for so long, and he could hear a lot of crackling on her chest, it was most likely that she had bronchitis. He gave us a prescription for a five day course of antibiotics, and some cough medicine to ease her coughing. We were out of there in record time, well under an hour, but I still drove back very quickly to avoid it getting dark before I drove Yvie home, I hate driving when it's dark here and the streets are still busy, it's a nightmare. After dropping Zulfa off and giving her mother some instructions for taking the medicine, I drove Yvie back home to Sakina, and then went back to mine. I knew that I was going to have a relatively long day the next day working on things in the garage, so I just went to bed early. 

Like I mentioned before, I spent the whole week sorting out the car, so I didn't have any time to organise anything to do with the projects, or even have time to pop down and visit Mama Mary. She has a phone and my number now though, and she knows that if she has any problems, she just has to call me. It wasn't until yesterday that I managed to get out and do something which I enjoyed. Adam, who I work very closely with, also works for another NGO based in Tanzania called Project Rehema. It is supported by a lady in the states, called Kelli. Every month, Adam does a food run to several families in the Monduli area. Monduli is about a forty minute drive out of Arusha, and is occupied mainly by Maasai. It's so beautiful in that area, and I jump at any chance to go over there. Firstly, Adam and I drove Bonge (my new builder) to the site where we will be building Mama Dora a new home. I explained to Bonge what I wanted doing, and he gave me a rough quote in his head. I explained that it was too much, and that he needed to write it all down for me, so that I could work out ways with Mama Dora to cut the costs of the project. We decided to drive to Monduli and drop the food off before talking to Mama Dora. We visited three families in Monduli Chini (Monduli down) and dropped off food and supplies. Project Rehema supplies the families with flour, rice, beans, cooking oil, sugar, baby lotion, soap, matches and tea. Some receive small amounts of money to help them as they have extremely low incomes. I especially liked Mama Godi, who was there with one of her daughters. She was extremely grateful for us being there to deliver the food, and was also very welcoming. I haven't mentioned yet but we have decided that in August, instead of building a house, we want to do something a little more different and supply five families with five new toilets. Bad toilets here can cause a lot of health issues, especially UTI's and similar infections. Mama Godi's toilet was on of the worst I have ever seen, and through Adam I explained that in August I would be building her a new one. She was so grateful, and welcomed be back. I look forward to visiting all of the Mama's again and having some food with them. One thing which Project Rehema has done which I was very impressed with is install solar panel systems in the houses where the Mama's live. I didn't realise how simple it was, and it got me thinking about doing it for Mama Dora, I think that we will. 

After finishing in Monduli Chini, we headed to Monduli Ju (Monduli Up) to drop off food to another few families. One of the families who we dropped off food to was the family which Max and I had visited when he came over. The Mama there has a big plot of land, and hopefully one day we will be able to build a compound of houses on there and re-locate Mama's from poor housing around the area into the compound. It's far away, but we'll get there. After that Adam decided to show me a beautiful view which he knew that was close by. We drove for ten minutes in the opposite direction to the way we had came. It was exactly what I picture when I think of Africa, a rough dirt road, with loads of low lying acacia trees, a beautiful blue sky and a view for miles and miles across the vast landscape. As we drove, suddenly to my left there was a stunning view. I was blown away, and told Adam to stop the car so that I could film it. We kept driving, and eventually got to the viewpoint. I can't really put it into words, but it was by far the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life. It blew me away how vast it was. What I was looking at was part of the Great Rift Valley. One of the wonders of the world, and definitely a must see. The oldest hominid footprints are found somewhere within this valley, and lots of people believe that it was indeed Tanzania where life started. I know it sounds corny but looking at somewhere like this, and thinking of our ancestors walking across it millions of years ago really gave me a strange feeling. I stared for a good twenty minutes, before Adam told me that we had to go. I wasn't too bothered, I knew that I would be going back soon now I had my car. If you ever want somewhere to take a girl on a first date, give me a shout, I'll show you the way. 

That's about it up to know, I'll post again at the end of next week to let you know how things go. I'm planning to start the project on Tuesday. I need to decide whether I will be staying in Duka Bovu or not. I would genuinely like to, but it could make some things quite difficult. I'll work it out. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Zac - hope you got the car fixed up okay.

    Paul - one of the wazungu from the garage in Arusha!