First Impressions

It is Sunday afternoon and I’ve been here in Morogoro since Wednesday afternoon.  A lot has happened in a very short time or at least it feels that way to me.  This is certainly the first moment I’ve had to sit down and write.  When I arrived Wednesday midday after a 4 hour drive from Dar es Salaam, I spent the afternoon with Polly Dolan, the founder of The Sega Girls School. She had me over to her home, gave me lunch, and then took me to look around the school and into town.

Cloth vendors in Morogoro

That evening, I moved into a rented house in Morogoro to live with Fran, an Aussie volunteer who’s been here for two years. On Thursday, while Fran and I were taking a class of girls swimming (the first time for many of them and many were scared to put their face in), the house was broken into and many of Fran’s things were taken. Amazingly, I had locked the door to my room so I did not lose my computer, cameras, and other items that could have been stolen (although they did get my bottle of scotch from duty free – darn!). This was the 3rd time in the last year (foreigners are always a target) so I decided I’d rather live at school, on the outskirts of town and guarded by four Maasai tribesmen. The rental house has guards too but, in this case, that was insufficient.

Two maasai guards (left and right) and gardener (middle) at rental house where Fran lives and I thought I was going to live.

On Friday, I moved to the volunteer house at the school and am now settled in here.  Both water and internet are rather scarce but, unlike in town, the solar system seems to provide uninterrupted electricity so that is helpful. The setting is beautiful with the Uluguru mountains nearby and there are two other Americans, Alice and Nancy, living here both teaching English, one with Peace Corps and the other having arranged it on her own like me.  Another volunteer, a Canadian woman, is arriving next week so I have some built in company.

On Friday evening, Polly and her daughter Martha, age 6, Nancy, and I went to an expat hangout in Morogoro for dinner. I met many others who are working here including folks from Canada, Ireland, Paraguay, and Trinidad.  It’s fun to be around such an international crowd as well as the Tanzanians themselves.

At the Sega School with mountains in distance

So, back to my first impressions.  The lack of infrastructure is startling (even more so living without it instead of just observing or reading about it) and just managing the mundane chores of daily life takes a lot of time and energy. The orange dust is everywhere and in everything.  Garbage is burned instead of collected (I’ve been breathing the smoke all day from burning of the weeds the girls cut today), water is intermittent and must be treated. The school hopes to be wired soon but currently we all use “dongles” to access the cell phone network with our computers which is both slow and unreliable (making a blog a bit of a challenge). Luckily, there is usually a nice breeze out at the school so I’m not fainting from heat yet, though it is warm and sometimes muggy.  And the mosquitos are small and quiet so bug bites happen but aren’t nearly as upsetting as those big, mean, whining Canadian mosquitos are. Of course here they might be carrying malaria but I am trusting my meds will protect me.

One of the Sega chicken coops

The first business the school started is poultry and they have just started selling eggs so I’ll be learning all about that and eating lots of farm fresh eggs while I’m here (we need to adjust the feed to get better color yolks).

It’s amazing to finally be here and I’m excited to delve into my work this week. There are plenty of both organizational and business development needs waiting for my input so I will slowly dip my toe into this young organization to see if I can contribute.


8 thoughts on “First Impressions

  1. April! When j saw your photo and before your post I wondered if you were in Tanzania!! My mom is involved in a girls secondary school project in Western Tanzania and was there this summer… Please write about why you are there and what you are doing!!! Sending you my best.

  2. Your first impressions ……… This is going to be a great adventure April ……. The good : the natural beauty of the place , the gratitude of the girls and the new experience , along with the not so good : the heat , mosquitos and lack of some comforts , but how many women have Masai Warriors as their personal guards !!!!
    Stay safe and have a great adventure — ashok

  3. It’s great to read your first impressions. You are a world away. I can’t wait to have a picture of you plucking chickens. Have you had much interaction with the school girls?

  4. Dear April :please take care of your self! and be careful” so glad to read your first impressions . all my respect to you ,my Oprah from Berkeley;love you..Melba.

  5. I love your photo April, and am struck by the thought that it will be a classic in your family for generations. Your new stories begin. I’m excited for you. Love, ~Kathy

  6. April – Your first few days sound very busy (not much jet lag recovery time). It takes me back to my first days in S.A. I’ll look forward to reading more updates. Take care, Caroline

  7. Wow, April. I’m so impressed!!! I know you will be an inspiration to the girls. What a terrific adventure and a terrific cause.

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