Welcome to this new, internationally accessed blog!
I am currently living in Tanzania, East Africa. My village is Murgwanza and my town is Ngara. We are located in the Kagera region of the country.
I can see Rwanda from my house! (That was not a Sarah Palin joke. I really can!)
It’s the rainy season here in the highlands, so we experience frequent but sporadic torrential downpours. These can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an entire day or weekend. So what am I doing here?
I’ve got an internship with an organization called WomenCraft. They work with women from Tanzania and Burundi to increase economic opportunity by way of social enterprise. Artisans make beautiful, well-crafted items from bowls and baskets to trivets and tablemats to holiday items like tree-toppers and ornaments. WomenCraft connects them to global fair trade markets. We actually just started selling at Swahili Imports and have gotten great feedback so far.
I am a communications intern. I’ve been working on photographing products and revamping the layout for our 2012 wholesale and retail pricelists. I am also traveling to artisan groups all over the region to photograph individuals as well as groups for our artisan profiles. I went on my first route week (visits to villages to deliver payment to artisans and pick up products) last week. I photographed a few of the groups and am hoping to push those traditional shots in a more creative direction as my time here continues.
The most commonly spoken languages here are Kiswahili and Kihangaza, a local dialect. It’s my goal to be able to have simple conversation without having to give someone a panicked “Help me!” look every time someone speaks to me. I’ve only been here two weeks, but I’ve started studying in my spare time, as well as asking coworkers what certain words and phrases mean. I want to learn at least one new word per day.
I’d like to use this blog to profile different activities I participate in, as well as what kinds of things go on in an African village/town in contemporary times. While there is your stereotypical view of Africa–impoverished, mud huts and dirt floors–that’s such a one dimensional way of categorizing an entire continent, it’s, quite frankly, unfair. There’s so much more happening here in Tanzania than most folks in the U.S. can imagine let alone seek out information about.
So far I’ve worked (obviously)–
And I’ve eaten.
It’s been slow-going, finding the motivation to work on this blog. Please bear with me while I get my butt into gear.