Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Last Blog from Tanzania
November 26, 2013
Here we are in our final days in Tanzania. We are writing this quickly since we have had on and off power for the last several days and think it will likely go off again today. Taking cold showers, shaving in the dark, trying to anticipate when it will go off or on is getting a bit tiresome. Hinda will be going home in a couple of days and can’t wait to take a shower without worrying if the water will stay warm for the entire shower, even if it is a quick one.
We know it sounds selfish of us since many people live like this all the time but we are used to so much that we take for granted that it is hard to get used to this. This time of year you should all be “Thankful” for what you have and where you live, if you live where the electricity doesn’t go off all the time, you have water at the turn of the tap and can come and go as you wish, where you wish and when you wish you are lucky and should never take it for granted.
We are winding down our work here and are feeling like the trip has been a success. We have done many things but consider our work with the women’s groups and students at the computer class two of the best works. The computer/photography class has grown from 9 to 17 with most of the students paying tuition on a sliding fee scale. The 7 computers we brought with us are really being used well and now a second class is being started. We have arranged for 4 of the best students to start helping the beginner students and one of the advanced students has actually started doing some work which she is getting paid for on the computer. It is so rewarding to see this class grow and learn. All the students are fun to be with and as they learn you can see them gain more self-assurance. Thank you again to all of you who donated laptops, you can be sure they are being used well.
Our work with the women’s groups has been great. Yesterday, Monday, there was a celebration where the mosquito nets were handed out to 64 women. They were so excited and happy that they keep cheering and singing. They have come a long way, with new bank accounts, free of large fees, a system for selling food to a hotel and more to come, and now mosquito nets to help with malaria. Wow! The press was at the celebration and it will be broadcast this evening and in the papers tomorrow.
At the celebration the women gave Peter and Hinda some small gifts to show their appreciation. These gifts mean a lot since the women are extremely poor and cannot afford much. We were delighted to help and hope to continue to make sure the programs we have put in place will continue.
We spent part of our last weekend here at Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is only a couple of hours from Arusha, where we live and although it is not as dramatic a Mt. Rainier, it is higher and the highest mountain in Africa. There is snow but not very much and it is like Mt. Rainier as it hides in the fog or clouds and was not out when we were there. We hiked a bit but starting to hike at 9500 ft. was hard for us and we did not go too far. At least we can say we were there and walked on the mountain.
So one of us will see some of you in few days and one of us may be able to communicate from Kenya where he will dedicate the Schnurman Pharmacy at KMET in Kisumu.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Blog 4 Tanzania
November 19, 2013
Mambo ! (How are things)
Well, here we are almost finished with our assignment here in Tanzania. Only 10 days left before Hinda heads home and Peter heads to Kenya.
We have been doing good work, especially with the two women’s groups we are working with. These are poor village woman who got together to support each other and give opportunity to others. They started several years ago by with a donation from an American woman who came to visit. She gave them some money to initiate a bank account. They meet each week and each woman give 5000 Tsh ($3.12) to the group account. There are 32 women in each group. They have been keeping their money in a bank that charges them a monthly fee, charges when you withdraw money and charges when you put money in. Peter thought that was too much and went looking for a bank that would not charge them, he found one, KCB (Kenya Commercial Bank) so the women are closing their current account and moving the money to KCB. Just yesterday a woman from the bank came to speak to the two groups helping them understand what the account will be like. They were very excited and since she was there she invited two representatives from each group to a workshop on entrepreneurship being held today. They will learn a lot and bring the information back to the group. One of the nicest things for us is that whenever we meet with the women and enter the room they stand and clap and trill their voices with their tongues. And they come and hug us!!
Since the small businesses of these women include selling eggs, milk, vegetables, fruit, sewing and many others we have put them in touch with the chef at the hotel where we are living. He is committed to helping them and has begun to purchase supplies from them, he has recently purchases eggs, milk and vegetables. This is a small hotel but they have a lovely outdoor garden where they have wedding receptions, parties, etc. This coming Saturday night they are having a wedding with 200 guests so they are ordering from the women fresh goods they will need. This is a great opportunity for the women and we hope it will continue even after we leave.
Finally, Peter has performed a feat no one thought was possible. One of the problems the women have is that they cannot afford to buy mosquito nets, and as you know malaria is a big problem in this part of the world. The company that manufactures the nets is just outside of Arusha. It is a large Indian run operation that does not make donations. Peter, and as many of you know, he never gives up, said he was going to go visit them and ask them to donate nets. Everyone said, it could not be done, they will not give you any nets. We went one day last week and tried to get in to see someone. Finally, they let us meet with a secretary, who although was very nice, all she could do was ask her boss for a discount. They said they would sell them to us wholesale. Peter asked if he could meet with the boss the next day. A meeting was scheduled for 10am the following day, when Peter arrived they told him the woman he was to meet with was busy and could not meet. In his usual way he talked, cajoled, asked and generally made it known he would not leave until someone met with him. After a while he got to meet with the sales manager who turned out to be a nice guy. He offered nets at a much reduced price. When Peter got back home he sent an email to the sales manager thanking him and about 10 minutes later we got a reply saying that the big boss has graciously agreed to give 64 nets to the women at no charge. They asked Peter to let them know where and when to deliver them and to get the press there. Wow, he did it again! However, we had no idea how to arrange press coverage. Luckily a friend referred us to a journalist who is going to take care of the newspapers and radio coverage. They will be presented next Monday.
Now for some exciting safari news. As you can see from the photos we have been on safari and have seen some pretty amazing things. This past weekend we went to Tarangire National park. A lovely place with lots of animals and a really nice lodge, where we staying in a luxury tent complete with bathroom and solar heated hot water. It is located on a hill overlooking the savannah and has an amazing view. Each day we went on a game drive in the early morning and late afternoon. We saw many animals especially a great number of elephants. This park has the largest number of elephants in Tanzania. They are lovely and makes you wonder how anyone can kill them just to take their tusks which are worth a great deal on the ivory market. We saw a pack of wild hunting dogs, which are rare in the world today. The pack was resting in the afternoon heat and there were 19 of them just lazing around in the shade. The two other highlights were a gorgeous leopard in a tree which was so close we felt like we could reach out and touch him. And last but not least a mating couple of lions. We have never seen this before and it was pretty exciting. We are told they mate for 5 days, staying in the same location, coupling every 15 to 20 minutes day and night. We going on one final one day safari to Mt. Kilimanjaro.
We went to Dar es Salaam for a weekend two weeks ago. Big city! Very very hot and humid! Lots of traffic. Great fish market, and the Indian Ocean is very beautiful. Only a 55 minute flight from Arusha. Dar has a very big mix of people: Indians, Muslims, Chinese, and is a thoroughly Swahili culture.
We saw some men painting stripes on the new highway with a rag attached to a stick and dipped in a bucket of white paint. This highway which is several hundred miles long, is being built with a small cement mixer which any American can rent at their local equipment rental store. It is a loooooong process.
That’s all for now. See you all soon. P&H
Friday, November 01, 2013
Blog 3 Tanzania Nov 1, 2013
Blog 3 Tanzania
Jambo from Babu and Bibi!
We have now been in Tanzania for a month and everyone calls us Babu (Grandpa) and Bibi (Grandma). These are Swahili words and not only mean grandpa and grandma but also hold a lot of respect. There is another slang term here for Daddy – Dingi, it means my Daddy is driving me nuts, so that is who Peter has become. It get lots of laughs. His kids will understand.
We have been doing a great deal both in terms of work and travel in the country. At work we have been busy trying to build the capacity of the staff. Helping the director be more assertive and better organized. Helping staff members with various issues to learn how to deal with multiple priorities and staff communications. Peter is teaching computer classes and photography classes and Hinda has written a “computer dictionary” which tells the English and Swahili term for symbols found on the tool bars. Many of the students do not speak English well and this will help them use the computers more easily. Again, thanks to all of you who donated laptops to us, these are being used to train the students along with a few desk tops that were here when we arrived. Because this program needs to be self-sustaining, we suggested that a small fee for tuition be charged for those who could afford it – the equivalent about $28 a month for those who can afford it and for those who cannot a sliding scale from $28 - $0. Although all the students are poor and most cannot afford to pay for training, now that the community is hearing about the classes we are getting requests from people to join the program. The people requesting the training are people who are employed (teachers) or have their own small businesses (members of women’s groups) and will be able to pay tuition. That tuition will offset the costs of those that cannot pay and for rent, electric, etc. Hopefully, this will make it into a self-supported program.
There is a water project that will be funded by the Rotary in the USA and managed by the community and the Rotary in Arusha. We met with the Rotary representative here and have been able to make sure there is good communication between the USA and Tanzania Rotaries so they can deposit the funds and get going on the project. Once completed it will provide water to 8,000 families in the village we are working in. We have also been meeting with some women’s groups here and providing education on Malaria, HIV, and other illnesses as well as Peter helping them with their bank account so they will begin to earn interest on their small account.
Since our last blog we have been on two safaris, the first to the Rift Valley to visit Lake Natron which is the breeding ground for millions of flamingos. The Rift Valley is where man was first found and it is hot as hell. We were there for three days and I am sure we lost weight since we did not stop sweating the entire time. Unfortunately, this is the dry season and the lake is very low so the flamingos are farther away. We did see many and photos are coming.
The second trip was to the Serengeti and if you are looking for some excitement, beautiful scenery, an abundance of animals and a wonderful place to visit, this is it. We flew on a small prop plane (12 passenger) for the one hour flight to the Serengeti. The roads are really bad and would have taken 8 hours on a dusty potholed road to get there. At the airport while waiting for our departure we watched all these small propeller planes arriving and leaving. All of sudden a sleek small business jet landed, out came 6 Arab sheiks with body guards and met by a police escort. They must have been here for some meetings and it was quite a contrast to see.
We arrived at the Serengeti airport and were met by our trusty driver/guide, Sylvester. He has been a great guide and has been taking excellent care of us. We drove into the national park and after about 20 minutes came upon a small river where there were crocodiles and hippos swimming. Also, a wildebeest was stuck in the mud, trying desperately to get out. He was stuck up to his shoulders. There were several safari cars watching the struggle and it took about half an hour but he did get out, we all cheered and were happy for him. We then continued on our “game drive” where we saw lions, giraffe, wildebeest, hippos, various antelope, leopards, wart hogs, zebra and many beautiful birds. Late in the afternoon we headed for the luxury tented camp where we would spend the night. It was great, the tent was huge complete with king size mosquito netted bed, a bathroom and shower. No electric but there was solar power and a generator. The food was excellent and the service was unbeatable. At about 5a.m. on the first day, there was a noise and right outsider the tent no more than 3 feet away was a large elephant, one of a group of 10 that came for a visit. During the night we heard hyenas and lions. For the next two days we went on game drives once for a full day and the next for early morning and evening drives. The only thing Hinda doesn’t mind getting up early (before 5am) for is a game drive. Early morning drives are great, the sun is just coming up and the animals are beginning to move around or those like the lions and leopards who have been up all night hunting are full and getting ready to sleep for the day.
We saw our first leopard in 2004 in Uganda, and then on the first day of the Serengeti we saw 6! And lots of lions, cheetahs, and virtually all of the animals that live on the Savanah. On the second day we watched a group of wildebeests go to the river to drink and right before our eyes a crocodile came up and grabbed one of them. There was a struggle and lots of splashing. However the river was shallow and the croc couldn’t grab it to pull it under and drown it and also the croc somehow grabbed it around the body and couldn’t close its jaws. So the wildebeest managed to elude the jaws of death but did get away. We photographed all of this.
We went to visit Oldavai Gorge also in the Rift Valley where the Leaky’s discovered 3.6 million year old fossils of pre humans. By the way, back at Lake Natron we visited perfectly preserved 300,000 year old footprints preserved from a lava flow. Since Peter had his DNA tested and found he is part Neanderthal(4%) it might have been one of his relatives. However the footprints at Oldavai are some 3,000,000 years old, but we only saw casts of them. In case you don’t know this, and we didn’t, Oldavai should really be Oldapai, but an anthropologist in the early part of the 20th century misheard the word and thought it was Oldavai, and it has since caught on. Oldapai is a Maasai word.
We next visited Ngorongoro Crater. The Rim is over 6,000 feet in elevation, and the bottom of the crater is nearly 2,000 feet lower where many animals, (not as many as Serengeti) live. It is 19 km wide, 264 sq km. It also exploded about 300,000 years ago.
We have come upon our own personal cook at the hotel restaurant. Boniventure – henceforth to be known as Boni. Last night he made us tilapia filet, tonight, spaghetti (supagetti) bolognaise, and then comes chapatti and green grams, (lentils). Very cool indeed.
We visited a Maasai village to photograph and also buy some gifts for our grandchildren. We ended up buying more than we thought we would – as usual including a Maasai spear for hunting lions and a walking/herding stick. These last two items were for Peter, he has decided he really needs to be prepared for all possibilities. Well the price bargaining got so complex that the chief with whom we were dealing called his wife to come and help. So who really runs the world?
There are 120 tribes in Tanzania, and unlike Kenya, they is no tribalism nor fighting. Everyone speaks Swahili and some speak their mother tongue – tribal language. Around here in Arusha there are the Meru people, (Mt. Meru), Pare and Chaga (Kilimanjaro), and Maasai from the whole northern region of this country. It is very interesting that people from Kenya who speak Swahili are made fun of for the way they speak Swahili. Tanzanian Swahili is real and pure, so often Peter gets laughs since his Swahili is Kenyan. Even when friends of ours from Kenya visited recently they told us that as soon as they opened their mouths to speak people made fun of their Swahili.
So, all in all we are doing well. The work is not too hard – this is a very small kind of laid back group, but never the less we are doing useful things, and teaching new skills and empowering people is what it is about for us. There are some funders who try to be very controlling, but we have decided not to work them because of that. In our opinion they are still in the days of the colonials treating Africans as less than equal and unable to do things on their own. We know better.
Well this has been long to write and probably long to read for you as well, so we will say tuonane for now (see you again).
Love to all,
Bibi na Babu (Dingi) Hahahahahaha!
Monday, October 14, 2013
Blog 2 Tanzania October 14, 2013
Jambo, from Arsusha, Tanzania!!!
Here we are entering our third week in Arusha. Even though we have not been here for very long, we have made many friends, accomplished much and have already been on one short safari. By the way, in case you didn’t know it, Tanzania was used to be known as Tanganikya but changed its name to reflect the joining of Tanganikya and Zanzibar when it became a part of Tanganikya.
Before we tell you what we are up to, we would like to report that the Schnurman Pharmacy in Kisumu, Kenya is up and running. This is the pharmacy in the building Peter helped KMET to build over the last couple of years. KMET has decided to name the pharmacy after him and as you can see by the photo the building is complete and the pharmacy is known to all. Peter will be going to Kenya in December for the dedication of the building and pharmacy. Please notice the tree in the foreground. It is Jacaranda that is providing shade to the pharmacy clients. Good Work, Peter!
First, let us tell you about some of the work we have been doing. As you know we are working with a small NGO that has few programs and less money. At this time they have a successful school program for orphans and vulnerable children which includes a preschool and school fees for children entering primary school. They also have a training program for vulnerable teens and young adults, mostly girls, where they provide computer training, and several women’s groups made up of village women who all own small businesses, i.e. vegetable sellers, fruit sellers, tailors, etc. The women contribute small amounts of money and build up funds to loan to other women to start small businesses. We are finding speakers for the women who want to about malaria, nutrition, etc., and also a bank which will pay them interest on their deposits (until now they don’t get interest). They did have a clinic but because they did not have enough money to run it they turned it over to the government just before we arrived.
We have been mostly involved with the training program, the women’s groups and building capacity of the staff. As you know we brought 7 laptops (thanks to many of you) with us and when we set them up alongside the three desktops they already had, we realized that the room they were in was too small, so Peter asked to meet with the owner of the complex where the program is currently residing. There was one vacant building in the complex so Peter was able to negotiate with the landlord to let Rise have the building free for one month, then a very reduced rate for the next two months and then he will try to arrange for favorable terms for the next several months. We have already raised the money for the two months of reduced rent. By the day after the program people found out what Peter had arranged they had already moved all the computers into the new space and were set to go. We also found that although the students were being taught Microsoft Word, they did not know how to type, so we arranged to have a couple of different typing training programs loaded on the computers. Peter is now also teaching excel to three staff members.
When we met with the women’s groups we asked what they need and of course, the answer was most everything. But especially basic things like clothes, soap and other everyday things. Peter asked the owner of the hotel we are staying at, who is a very successful business man here in Tanzania, if he might be able to help and he said, “yes” right away. We are going to meet with him this week to work out the arrangements for his donations and to also arrange to meet with other business people in Arusha.
As in most of the other places we have been we are concentrating on building the capacity of the staff but mostly of the executive director who is a very nice man but not very assertive. Peter has taken him to all his negotiation meetings and he is already showing signs of being able to promote himself and Rise so that the programs will grow.
As we told you before Arusha is a nice city small but clean and we now realize there are banana trees everywhere we turn. As soon as you get off the main road they surround all buildings and many have bananas hanging from them. It is really very pleasant. And even though we have only been here for a short time, we are living in a hotel and I certainly have gotten used to never having to make the bed. I don’t know what I will do when I get home.
This past Saturday we went on our first short safari. Safari means “trip” so it can mean one day or many days. We have hired a driver/guide named Sylvester who was recommended by a couple of our friends in Seattle, thanks Jill and Ross. He thinks of everything and has several vehicles that will take us wherever we want to go. This first one was to Arusha National Park, which is only a 45 minute ride out of Arusha. Although it is a very small park and unusual because it is forested in many places, even including a rain forest with moss growing on the trees, we were greeted by a herd of Buffalo and Zebras when we arrived. We also saw Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Wart Hogs, Giraffe, and Baboon, Colobus Monkeys, Flamingos and several small birds. The day was full and we really enjoyed it. Next Saturday we will take Lake Natron, which is the largest breeding place in Africa for Flamingos. This is the breeding season and we have heard that there are as many as three million Flamingos breeding. Wow.
Different cultures can sometimes be confusing, and one of the confusing things about Swahili culture, (here, Kenya, and elsewhere in part of East Africa), is how you tell time. You need to subtract 6 hours from Western or International time. For example, 8:00 becomes 2:00 and then you have to say it is 2 in the morning or the evening! Got it? My watch says it is 3:30p.m which here is 9:30a,m.. It is easy to get confused and tell someone the wrong time to meet.
Hope you enjoy this and the photos. It is nice to hear from you, so your emails and comments are always welcome.
You can wish us safari salaama for our safari next week. Yes, safari salaama is correct.
And finally, Hinda is always too modest. She talks about Peter this and Peter that, but it really we are a team (for the past nearly 53 years), and it is Peter AND Hinda.
Hope you enjoy this blog and photos. We love to hear from you, so write often.