Thursday, February 17, 2011

Travel TidBits: Stone Town, Zanzibar

Colorful Beadwork

Zanzibar – where Africa meets the Orient

The island of Zanzibar on the East coast of Tanzania is part of an archipelago and is its center of commerce and governance. But it also evokes the mystery of Arabian nights, tropical beaches, spice trade and slave markets. Since its glory time in the 19th century, the mansions and fortress and minarets have fallen to decay. The beautiful mansions and palaces lining the waterfront tell of grandor, and the narrow streets form a labyrinth easily to get lost in and resembling the medinas of North Africa and Arabia. Today, Zanzibar’s palm-lined beaches with turquoise water beckons for a swim and the snorkeling on the coral reefs offers a colorful underwater life. The small fishing boats, called dhows, line the harbor. Early mornings are busy on the beaches with men negotiating the price for the night’s catch before the mzungus (white foreigners) awake from their slumber.

Approaching Zanzibar

Stone Town, the oldest part of Zanzibar Town, located on the west side of the island offers a contrasting mixture of old history of the slave trade flourishing until 1873 and the Anglican Church built on the ruins of the slave market, the central market with its colorful stalls of fruit, vegetable and staples, and the small shops catering to the tourist market. The streets in Stone Town are narrow with barely a car passing through, and between the dilapidated houses beautiful views of the Indian Ocean. The call to prayer from the main mosque can be heard many times during the day and by the dress of the women, we know we are in Muslim country. Tall, shrouded in long dresses flowing from head to toe with hair coverings, they seem to glide by. The more traditional ones wear all black with an additional face covering clothes – only the eyes show. In this hot and humid climate, it seems agonizing to be buried under such layers of clothing. At least the ankle long, colorful kangas made of light cotton fabric with matching hair scarves appear more bearable. Men in long white kaftas and a cap on their head seem to have the better deal.

We arrive at the airport after our flight from Moshi to Zanzibar and upon leaving the plane the hot humidity air hits us squarely in the face. A mob of taxi drivers waits at the exit and we negotiate a price for the short ride to Stone Town and our hotel in the middle of the old part of town. The elderly, Indian cab diver tells us about the sights of the hospital – pretty dilapidated but with many bicycles parked in front – and the ‘White House”, the palace of the President of Zanzibar. He warns us to be careful and only to go out in groups, specifically at night – a warning that we have gotten used to here in Africa. Our hotel, the Dhow Palace, welcomes us with a cool pool in a courtyard even before we reach the reception. Our room upstairs is decorated with antique furniture that also decorates the hallways and small lounges throughout this ancient building. Shrouded in mosquito nets the beds look comfortable and the ever present ceiling fan is augmented by modern air conditioning. We learn that even with the AC, the temperatures never get below 30C! Still it is an oasis from the heat outside.

Dhow Palace Courtyard

Our room with three mosquito-net poster beds!

Baby Crib in the Hallway

Tassle on Baby Crib

We leave our bags and venture out into old Stone Town to be accosted by the street vendors who relentlessly try to get to the almighty tourist ‘dollars’. The young guy selling scarves just walks next to us initially offering a scarf for 10,000 TSH (about $ 7.-). He doesn’t seem to understand the simple word “no” and trails us until we vanish into a store. By that time the price had dropped to 3 scarves for 10,000 TSH.

Another hotel at the waterfront (Serena Lodge)

Coming from Moshi, a town with much less tourism since only the fit come her to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa with its 5890 m (or ~18,000 ft), we are overwhelmed by the myriad of Westerners and the thousands of small stalls (the size of a car garage) along the narrow streets. As we wonder into the labyrinth of narrow alleys off the main center, we see more of the colorful local neighborhood with locals going about their business. The mosque is frequented by men in long kaftas washing their feet and face before entering the holy place to pray. The shrouded women carry baskets with rice, beans and some greens hurrying home for the evening cooking. The transportation for larger purchases are rickety bicycles squeaking under the heavy load. We find a bookstore which is amazingly stocked with a large variety of books about Africa, the history and stories of people so foreign to us. It is an oasis not only for the quiet and stimulating environment but also for the air conditioning giving us a reprieve from the oppressive heat. We browse, read and don’t want to leave. If we weren’t traveling with limited carrying capacity, we could have loaded up on many hours of reading material – but alas, we left with only small purchases.

At the giftshop at the House of Wonder, a former palace now housing the National Museum, we encounter the only self-proclaimed blue-eyed African. Renee had found a uniquely cut skirt of kanga material but found it needed some stitches in the waistband. The blue-eyed store keeper Farruck, who also tailored the skirt, went to work and within no time had corrected the flaw.

Women in front of their store

Farruk with the blue eyes

With only a rudimentary map, we get lost in the labyrinth of alleys trying to find the Anglican Church and the remnants of the slave market. Zanzibar was a hub for the slave market in the 19th century and only under the pressure of the British did the reluctant Sultan Barghash abolish this practice in 1873. We don’t know how many souls passed through Zanzibar from the interior of East Africa to be sold and shipped to the far East, but the other slave hub in Bogomoyo just north of Dar es Salaam is said to have been the trading place for more that 740,000 men, women and children slaves. It was a brutal trade, the slaves marched for months from the interior to the coast, were held in cells for a couple of days without food, water and light before being auctioned off to the best bidder. Those who were strong fetched a higher price and sometimes a child would be ‘thrown’ into the deal. When we reached the Anglican Church after wondering through the local ‘backwaters”, we paid our dues and Christopher, our guide, lead us to the slave chambers under the Church. Two cells remain, one for men and one for women and children, deep in the ground, with only a slit for light and air and a hole in the ground serving as the toilet. When the ocean tide was high, water seeped into the chambers and one can only imagine the misery and cruelty that happened at this place. The chains were still hanging her,e and we welcomed the light and air after ascending from the horrors below. It was the British who abolished the slave trade here in Zanzibar and Bishop Edward Steere lead the efforts to build a magnificent cathedral at the place of the slave market. It took 7 years to erect the marble columns shipped from quarries of Italy and place the stained glass windows so familiar from the European cathedrals. A remarkable monument in remembrance of the slavery was designed and built in 1997 by Clara Sorna that reminded me of the Holocaust memorial in the Presidio of San Francisco. Five stone figures attached by neck chains are standing in a cement pit looking up at the visitor with mournful faces. We fell silent, no visitor can escape the horrors that this place extrudes. The magnificent pipe organ of the cathedral cannot erase the history done to this continent.

Sugar cane treats

To parch our thirst, we went to the African House Hotel for drinks on the roof top terrace with view of the ocean and the setting sun. At this time of day, everyone seems to be out and about; the waterfront invited promenading and as the temperature dropped a cool beer made the evening very pleasant. The terrace filled up as sunset neared but the cloud bank way off on the horizon shrouded the sinking sun. Fishermen guided their dhows into the shallow waters, boys went for a swim, and women hurried home to their families. As the power went off – we are used to no electricity by now – and the candles came out, we dinned on the terrace with the cool breeze blowing from the ocean in the dark.

Dinner by candle light

One of the reasons we came to Zanzibar was the music festival that was happening at the Old Fort close to the harbor and the House of Wonders, the National Museum of Zanzibar. Earlier in the day, we had bought tickets and after dinner we wondered over through the lively streets in the old town to the fort which at 9 pm was buzzling with people. The street vendors had set up their stands with kangas, scarves, African carvings, cheap jewelry, and trinkets, the music was playing on an open-air stage. People were standing or sitting on the grassy ground only illuminated by the bright colorful stage lights. Drums, dancing, singing encouraged the crowd to get into the act. These were exotic tunes for our Western ears with melodies of different rhythms. But we enjoyed our surroundings before we tired and left for the center of town – flashlight in hand to avoid the potholes and pebbles along the way.

Arriving back at the Dhow Palace, we encountered a new twist to the ‘no electricity’ story: Since the pumps did not work, there was no water! Now that got our attention when after sweating gallons of water, a shower before bed would be what the doctor ordered. But alas with the AC off, we still had a good night’s sleep in our poster beds with the mosquito nets giving each of us our private space in this triple room.

Construction work

African Beauty

Sunday, February 6, 2011

About Writing

I received this poem by Judith Hurley Prosser this morning and I can so relate to it.  In my Travel TidBits writing, there are days when the words don't flow - and other times when they just tumble out.
Silence, listening, turning inwards, quiet morning hours - for me this is the environment when the words start to flow.


by Judith Hurley Prosser

Waiting on the word,
I realize...
It can't be forced.
It either comes,
Or it doesn't.
What's required
Is being open
And creating the space
For it to flow.
In the Silence
The word
Can be heard.
Be quiet,

Copyright 2011 Judith Hurley Prosser

Travel TidBits: Hiking

Hiking at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro

[sorry, picture upload is not functioning here in Tanzania today!  Pl visit my web gallery for images at]

A day in higher elevations (2000 ft) hiking among banana and coffee fields at cooler temperatures was just heaven!!
Along the road

Hiking through the banana fields

This morning at 9am, we were picked up by Alfred, our guide for the day, to drive up to the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro for a hike to the Ilano waterfalls and a visit to a coffee plantation. Since Alfred and his brother have a tour company, it was nice to be picked up in a car and not have to walk 35 minutes to town (our usual exercise). Alfred is a 25-year old, very open and fun young guide who speaks English well. He went all the way through primary and secondary school (passed Form 4 exam in Grade 11) and then attended college to study tourism. He is a certified tour guide and now works with his brother Edgar in the touring industry. He leads climbs to Mt Kilimanjaro, safaris to Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti and he told us that he is touring Zanzibar with a group of Chinese later this month. We drove out of Moshi north direction Kili and soon start the road climbs. The pavement stops and the red dirt road begins sprinkled with gigantic potholes and the going is slow.

Children carrying banana beer on their heads ack to the mudhut - It's Saturday!

We pass by street villages and this being Sunday morning, lots of people on the road in their finest to go to church. The majority of people in this region are Christian with a few Muslims, and Sunday mornings into afternoons are reserved for church. As we reach higher altitudes, the road is lined with banana fields and it reminds me of my picking bananas and banana trees in Thailand last year, and it is a welcoming sight.

On our left, we see Mt Kilimanjaro in the morning light with a cloud bank below its peak at ~5000ft and we talk about Nuala and Renee, who are currently climbing and should be close to summiting tomorrow around 6am after attempting the last stage right after midnight. We have not heard from them since they departed on Wednesday. Moshi is the starting point for Mt Kilimanjaro climbers and we see quite a few Westerners in town and often their goal is to summit Mt Kilimanjaro.

At about 1500 ft altitude, we park the car and start hiking through banana and coffee fields – both crops are often planted together since the taller banana trees shade the coffee bushes. Co-cultivation of both also provides better nutrient ground management. Most people up here are farmers and their crops also including avocados and other vegetables are sold locally as well as exported. The coffee grown on the slopes of Kili is Arabian coffee and farmers either grow the beans to sell for further processing, or process the beans in small, often hand-operations. Later we will visit and hear more about the processes from bean to a wonderful cup of strong coffee.

The regions at the foot of Kili received quite a bit of water from the snow melt up the mountain. Farmers take advantage of it and channel the water in small water canals so the fields can profit from this resource in a land where water is a precious commodity. We hike along one of the water ways on a narrow footpath. Ever so often, we pass by a small homestead often no more than a small hut with a porch for living and some sheds for animals and tools. The walls are constructed out of sticks and ‘glued’ together with mud and animal dung. The mud is peeling and the sticks become visible. This kind of dilapidation is often seen along the road.
Houses here in Tanzania are not well kempt and most of them could benefit from a can of paint. In this dusty land where dust devils are wiped up in no time, a rusty color prevails from the red-colored earth.

We are walking in Chagga Tribal Land and mid way we stop at a small group of houses and Alfred, our guide, pays the fees for our hike up to the waterfall. A sign indicates that entering without payment has serious consequences!! We continue of small footpath steadily going uphill, with people going back and forth in their daily chores, leaving the creek far below. It is lush green up here and cool under the canapé.

Paying our fees at the local village

After about 2 hours, we reach an enormously high waterfall and the end of the valley. The water spills over a 300ft rock face and splashes into the cool pool. The temperature in the shade is perfect for our lunch, and soon we are surrounded by several local boys that had been playing in the creek. Since this is an easy destination, we are not the only group that hiked to the waterfall today. The guides are talking to each other while the ‘mzungi’ - white foreigners sit and talk. We share our lunch – bread, cheese, carrots and cucumbers - with Alfred and enjoy the beautiful scenery. When it is time, it’s hard to leave. The cool fresh air is inviting and the lush green is a feast for the eyes.

Local children along the way

Reaching the waterfall where we have lunch

Lush green vegetation

As we descend into the banana fields again, the boys trail behind us until we reach the creek. And jumping and laughing they jump over rocks and disappear in the valley below. Children here are walking barefoot and to me it is surprising with what ease they jump into the rocky creek.

Walking ahead, Linda calls out that someone has lost a pack of business cards – and surprisingly these were mine. We had a bunch of young boys trailing behind when we came up and I was walking last in line. Thank God, I did not have valuables in my outer pocket of my backpack!! These little buggers were already refined enough to open my lover backpack zipper without me noticing!!

We continue our hike back and have a delightful visit at a small coffee plantation and meet Oscar, Mr. Coffee. Oscar is a young man around 28 years of age who together with his family run a small coffee banana plantation. He tells us that the men run the coffee business and the women harvest the bananas. Roles are strictly delineated by gender. When he shows us the kitchen – a small dark hut without windows with 2 small coal pits for cooking – he points out that this kitchen is ruled by his mother. Since he needs a fire pit for roasting his coffee beans, he built a new fire pit outside in the yard.

Mud huts along the way

Oscar, Mr. Coffee

Oscar with Mom

Grinding coffee the old fashioned way

Alfred helping Mr. Coffee ouring hte brew into thermos cans

hmmmm, so good and strong!

Oscar describes to us the process from red coffee bean to the roasted dark brown ground coffee, and then he brewed delicious coffee for us to taste.

From red coffee beans to a strong cup of black coffee – all in the span of 2 hours!
Children at the coffee farm

They train them early!

By the time we left, we had learned that the red raw coffee beans are first peeled form their outer housing, then washed for a night in water to get rid of the hulls, then dried in the sun for a day, followed by pounding in a mortar with a pistil to remover yet another hull. The white beans are roasted over an open fire in a metal pot for about 20 minutes to yield either a light or dark roasted coffee bean depending on the time on the fire. Grinding is done again in the mortar and pistil. Oscar then brewed the coffee the old fashion way in a pot of water heated over the open fire. The grind is sieved off and we all enjoyed a good, strong cup of coffee.
While all the activities were going on – all outside the mud hut used for sleeping – children peaked around the corner and the youngest member of the family helped pounding the coffee beans for hulling while some other kids played in Mama’s dark kitchen:

Shortly, we were on our way to the car not far away and happy that Alfred would take us to GTHA directly without having to walk back from town. What a treat.

Overall, it was a fun day: I enjoyed the hiking out of town so much and the coffee making was an entertainment in itself. Simple pleasures!

Travel TidBits: Streets of Moshi

The Streets of Moshi

Moshi, Tanzania, is a city with about 150,000 inhabitants and it is located in the Northern parts of Tanzania. It is situated at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro and is considered together with Arusha, about 70km from Moshi, the starting point for climbing “Kili”. Moshi has several colleges and the school that I am teaching at is situated adjacent to the Ushirika college campus. I work and live at GTHA where we have the class rooms and a 3 bedroom house for the max 6 volunteers. Monika Fox from Canada, who founded the GTHA women’s Empowerment school about 2 years ago, is also living right here at the School. The area around us [about 3 miles from downtown] is a quiet residential neighborhood with only small stalls that sell bare essentials and so we need to walk to town for our other needs. Besides the main roads that are paved, the local roads are dirt roads that are rocky and ungraded. There is much foot traffic with very few cars. Everyone walks here since the local income is minimal and owning a car is mainly out of reach of Moshi’s population. Our students may walk for an hour to come to school or take the local dala dala, minivan transportation for 250 TSH = $ 0.25. The dala dalas are the most used public transportation and are always packed to the gills. Often, people are handing on the outside. I have only used it once so far but we had to wait several dala dalas before one arrived that could take in 2 more people and we were standing crouched over since the dala dalas are not high enough to stand up straight. Thankfully we had a careful driver who would not just speed over the speed bumps!

After teaching today, I needed exercise and grabbed my camera and went to town. The walk is slightly downhill and through single-house neighborhood, all gated and with shrub hedges for privacy and for protection. It seems everything is gated here and most properties have night guards as has GTHA. Sometimes I wonder are we fenced in our fenced out? Life seems restrictive. Everyone – or at least every woman – adheres to the rules to not go out in the evening alone or even in groups. This does not only apply to foreigners but also to local women. Margaret, our cook, rushes home around 6:30p so that she can arrive at her place after a 40 minute walk before darkness. On my way, I greet fellow walkers on the red dirt road with ‘Jambo” often responded with a bunch of Swahili and smile as I walk by. The response may also include some English words since we stand out with our light skin here in a city with very dark-skinned Tanzanian. I have noticed that both the Kenyan and Tanzanian people are very dark-skinned which by now I am accustomed to. As I approach the down town area, the traffic increases with cars, trucks, dala dalas, busses filled to the gill and with loads of sacks and goods strapped on the top. The local bus depot is always buzzing with crowds with large packages, bundles tight with strings, suitcases to bring the goods from town to the villages in the surrounding areas. I can photograph only in a limited manner since people here are not keen of being photographed. Local women carry their load on their heads and they walk gracefully and with ease in their long skirts.

Moshi has about a handful of downtown streets, which are paved, but the sidewalks are not (!) - lined with small stores and lots and lots of street vendors. Most ubiquitous are women and men sitting on the sidewalk with old foot-powered sewing machines, the kind our grandmothers had.

The local clothes seems to be fashioned right here on the streets. It’s a colorful scene since specifically the African women wear colorful dresses and hair coverings typically includes a long skirt, blouse of the same or other color and fabric, and a scarf or turban for the head of the same fabric. It is printed cotton fabric in bright colors suited for the hot temperatures here in Moshi. Most men wear Westerns style trousers and shirts and the younger generation has adopted jeans which seem to me to be too hot for this climate. But we also see Masai in their colorful red blankets, the traditional dress of the Masai. The shoe vendors are plentiful offering some new but mostly used shoes carefully restored and polished with lots of black shoe polish. It is striking how many men just ‘hang out’ on the street. Tanzania has a high unemployment rate of about 50% which might explain the multitude of idle men on the street.

The women, of course, are at home tending to the children, and those in town are busy with their shopping list to get back to their homes in time for dinner. Different from other countries, I am not hassled on the streets of Moshi, everyone is friendly, a friendly “Jambo” or some words in English with a big smile.

After a cold drink and a muffin at the Kilimanjaro Coffee Lounge, a favorite hang out for foreigners, I continue to the Women’s Coop.

With the help of Monika at GTHA, 4 women have a small store to sell cosmetics, shoes, and fabric that Christina fashions into dresses and pants. I marvel at the colorful prints of the Kongas, large pieces of fabric that are used as wrap around skirts. These prints all have a beautiful wide border in coordinated patterns. To support these women who have previously graduated from GTHA and are now practicing what they learned, I buy 4 Kongas since they will also make nice table clothes.

On my way back to GTHA, I go up a side street to reach the little supermarket for tomatoes, tea, tuna and jam, and go to the bakery where surprisingly I can get a good freshly baked brown bread and some yogurt. These are the staples that make up for my breakfast and lunch. As dinner is cooked by Margaret, I don’t have to worry about lugging more food home. Then it’s off to the 3 mile walk home. At the big roundabout, I hear band music and see a wedding processing approaching with young men on a pickup truck playing the brass instruments.

As the crowds thin, and my path goes uphill again I think of all the women that need to carry much heavier loads home to feed a whole family! I leave the crowded streets, pass though a lovely plant nursery and uphill on dirt roads greeting passerby’s until I reach my home in Moshi, ready for a big glass of water to quench my thirst.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Travel TidBits: Muungano School

Muungano Primary School, Moshi [ January 31, 2011]

While at the Kilimanjaro Coffee Lounge last Friday meeting up with Nula, Canada – volunteer at GTHA with Linda in November 2010, I scan the flyers at the bulletin board and find one asking for a photographer to photograph children for TEACH. After calling Krupa Patel, the contact given on the flyer, on Saturday I agree to come to the school on Monday afternoon. We agree that we would meet at the Clock Tower in Moshi since I am new and don’t know my way around town yet.

After teaching the 2 computer classes in the morning [with no electricity!], I leave after lunch for my first foray into town on my own. By now I know the path and reach the ‘round about’ at the Clock Tower a bit early and sit watching the activities around me. There are street vendors: women selling shoes spread out in front of her on the ground. Another man polishes shoes; two women sell little trinkets while a constant flow of people passes by on their way here and there. The round about traffic is heavy with cars, busses and dala dalas, the minivans which constitute the main transportation. These dala dalas are always packed to the gill with the last passenger hanging on to the door. There are few white faces here in town, and while waiting I count about 3 Caucasians walking by. Throughout my trip to Kenya and here in Tanzania I have noticed that the majority of people are very dark skinned, almost black – both Africans as well as the Muslims of Arabic decent. Women are largely dressed in long skirts and blouses, often out of the same cotton material, while Muslim women wear their characteristic headscarves. The African dress colors are often bright and colorful and women might wear a decorative scarf of the same fabric as their dress on their head fashioned more in a hat form. The prevalent dress for men is Western style trousers and shirt.

Krupa with Sport Teacher

Tom, who works with Krupa meets me at the Clock tower and we walk about 15 minutes to the Muungano School, a Governmental primary (grades 1-7) and secondary (grades 8-13) school with about 600 students. Meeting with Krupa Patel, I learn that she is part of a charity organization, TEACH, based out of the UK. Their goal is to improve the enrichment activities at schools by organizing extra curricular activities. Here at the Muungano School, they have initiated sports programs as well as a small band. Krupa is on Indian descent and grew p in Uganda. While living in London, she joined TEACH. After a fundraising Kilimanjaro climb in September last year, TEACH decided to initiate the first project in Tanzania here at the Muungano School. Krupa has been in Moshi for about 6 months. She introduces me to the Headmaster of the school who is proud to show us around. We first observe the band activities:

Girl playing the Flute

A small group of 5th and 6th grade children play flute, cymbal and drums under the leadership of a girl with a baton while the larger group of children exercise to the music: jumping jack, and even push-ups and other physical activities. It reminds me of large gatherings in China where people exercise in public in large groups. The younger children watch and copy the exercise routine on the sidelines or just watch.

The next activity is a fun math game: some ~20 half tires are arranged in rows in a square, numbers are written on the tires. A group of boys and a group of girls form teams and the teacher calls out mathematical calculations, e.g. 10 x 20. The children calculate the results and rush to the tire with the correct number. Who ever sits on the tire first wins. There is much laughter and in the end the girl team wins. I marvel at the combined brain and physical activity while keeping it light and encouraging the children to learn while having fun.

Girls cheering after winning the Math game.

By now the students have gotten used to my taking photos and flock around me asking to see the pictures or have their picture taken.

They crowd so close that it becomes difficult to photograph them but we are all laughing and walking to the sports field where the soccer practice is about to start for the boys and where the girls have a smaller court for hand ball. The sports field is just a large area of dirt; and as the wind is blowing in gusts this afternoon, I need to shield my camera from the heavy dust clouds that arise intermittently. But this is not a hindrance for the students to pursue their games and I can see that they thoroughly enjoy it.

Under the watchful eyes of the sport’s teacher, the boys in their school uniforms run in the afternoon heat, I don’t know if anyone keeps score or whether a goal is achieved at all. But you can see the fun in their eyes and the laughter when the ball goes out of field.

Meanwhile, the girls also in their school uniform play handball. They call out to each other throwing the ball from one end of the court to the other, often heavily competing for the ball. Again I can see the joy in their eyes having play time and learning teamwork.

These outdoors activities are not the norm in school here where the teaching style is often rot memorizing and where teachers still use sticks to punish students who do not perform well. Speaking out in class and participating easily is not encouraged and I believe I see the reluctance in responding to questions in class in the young women that I teach at GTHA. Since a wrong answer is punished they are afraid to respond for fear that their answer might not be correct. In a culture where good relationships are important for survival, controversial issues are not discussed; passive aggressive non-dealing with difficult topics is the norm hoping the issue would go away. Its root might lie in the way students are treated in school and maybe in the home as well. The traditional culture here is not conducive to entrepreneurial activities, thinking out of the box, embracing changes that might better their life and lift the poverty so visible everywhere.

Unemployment in Kenya is about 50% and probably similar in Tanzania and people here live from day to day without being able to have anything extra for the future. Family bonds, good relations with neighbors are essential for survival where people help each other when the food is scarce. I understand now that a 1kg of rice or beans (1500 TSH or $ 1 each!) taken to the families of students at GTHA when doing home visits on Fridays is accepted with grace and might tie the family over for the next week when family income might not be more than a couple of $ per day. Margaret, our wonderful cook at GTHA, earns 80,000 TSH or $ 56 per months for coming 6 days per week to cook our dinners. She walks about an hour to come here, and then goes to town pretty much every day to buy the groceries for dinner (roundtrip at least one hour). Once dinner I ready she eats with us and leaves before dark since it is not safe for women to be on the street after dark. To earn some extra money, she does our personal laundry for about 5000 TSH or $ 3.50 to augment her income. We hear Margaret singing in the kitchen because she is happy to be here in this supportive environment, but also because she has a good job and steady income; and even on this –in our eyes – meager income is better off than most.