In January, five people from ETI traveled to Tanzania together.  Phil Latessa and Sheri Krumm from the ETI board, as well as Dr. Jeff Carithers, coordinator of the IWHP program, Jean Morgan, volunteer and first time traveler to Africa/Tanzania, and Carol Putz from St. Andrew’s Lutheran, partner in and funder of the Nanny Project. It is always hard to summarize two weeks of days that each feel like a lifetime, but I’ll begin with week one, and add lots of pictures.  It helps.  I hope you find it as much fun to read as I found it to experience!  

~Sheri Krumm, Development Coordinator or ETI

It’s hard to begin this blog without commenting on the travel.  If you’ve never taken a 24 hr. airplane trip, you may not totally understand what it feels like to spend the two days before you leave sinking into a mental “zen” state that will allow you to sit for 2 hours…and then 9 hours….and then another 9 hours….before finally arriving.   Even that would be somewhat reasonable, if you didn’t have to share those flights with 400 other people,

and a 2 year old that loudly repeats the same phrase in Hindi over and over for 2 hours,

and the man sitting 5 ft away that clearly has a raging case of influenza and coughs for 9 hours,

and the guy that snores,

and the baby that cries because her ears hurt and she has no idea why she is being asked to do this,

and the dude that walks up and down the aisles all night, bumping into everyone’s shoulders and waking them up.

So you do what all experienced travelers do.  You put on the noise canceling headphones and watch a movie, then insert the earplugs, and take a sleeping pill of some kind.  No wonder we all look like crazed American zombies when we get off at 7:00 am in Amsterdam!  It’s positively intimidating to see all the beautifully coiffed and dressed European business people heading off to some nearby meeting, looking cool, classy, and completely rested.  We just try to find coffee, and get to our next gate without bumping into a wall.

I say this to allow you to feel the relief we feel when we finally reach Kilimanjaro Airport, walk down the steps, get through customs, and grab our bags. FINALLY we walk out into the mass of Tanzanian guides, holding signs and looking for their tourists, and we see our friends!

Eli Kisimbo, Elias the intern, our driver Martin….they all come with big smiles and warm hugs, and take us to that one place they know will put us back to right….El Rancho Indian Restaurant in Moshi!  I realize that “exhausted” and “hungry” are two of the greatest spices on earth, but seriously, if you are ever in Moshi, this place is worth looking for.  They will stay up and serve you until midnight if you look pathetic enough!

The travel is always challenging, but I’m here to tell you about the visit, which began in a most fabulous way! We woke up Saturday morning after that long trip to a clear sky and an absolutely PERFECT view of Mt. Kilimanjaro out our bedroom windows.  Talk about a beautiful way to set the mood!  After a cold Iowa winter, it was warm, the birds were singing, and flowers were in bloom everywhere.

We had a lot to do, only two weeks to get it done, and we were ready for action!  Our first agenda item was to visit the Livestock Training Institute at Tengeru Agriculture College, where we will be sending many many farmers in the next few years as we scale up the Nanny Project.  They will custom design a two week course for us including animal husbandry, making value added products such as cheese and yogurt from our goat milk, marketing, and gardening.  It is a remarkable place and we were excited to tour it and make a personal connection with the Student Affairs Manager.

On Monday morning, we began the Improving Women’s Health Program (IWHP) training workshop.   This program is coordinated by Dr. Jeff Carithers from Maurertown, Virginia, and Ms. Efrancia Nzota, from Same, Tanzania, and is funded by a grant from a family foundation in the U.S.

The program began in November, and since then, Ms. Nzota has been busy recruiting 26 women to serve as Community Health Educators (CHE) in their own home villages, and the surrounding area.  They were in Same at the workshop to learn how to do a public presentation on health, what their equipment and materials would be, and what the job would actually look like.  They needed to meet each other and begin forming relationships to create a support system, and of course, they wanted to meet Dr. Carithers, aka Dr. Jeff.

To say this workshop was a success would be a gross understatement.  It was unbelievable!!  The training was well planned, well done, and gave them a lot of good information, but that wasn’t what made the event so amazing.  The magic of the thing was the WOMEN!  For many of them, they were experiencing empowerment for the first time, and it was a heady experience!  When they arrived on Monday, of course, they were excited about the possibilities, but as the week unfolded, and the scope of what would be possible in their education sessions in the villages became apparent, they were positively on FIRE!

The first year will include four subjects, each taught for 3 months.

Hand washing
Clean and safe water
Malaria prevention

Each subject will include a video in Swahili that they can show at their presentations, using a small battery powered projector and speakers that were provided for each CHE.  They will then lead discussions and hands-on demonstrations, and answer questions.

After 6 days of learning, practicing, asking questions, singing, bonding, laughing, and singing some more, the women were ready, and it was time for graduation.  You have never seen a graduation quite like it!  These women were on fire, and soooo proud of what they were about to go into the community and do.

I want to finish talking about our first week there by including part of a note we received this morning from Efrancia.  It is short, but you can hear her enthusiasm!

Hi Dr. Jeff I hope you are doing great over there. Me too, I’m doing just fine. The reason I’m writing to you is to let you know how things are moving on with the CHEs in the community. The CHEs are so enthusiastic about the program, that I can tell. We are communicating through phone calls, and they said, the community is receiving them with a passion to learn more, and  positive changes have been noticed already. The CHEs have gotten a very good support from the Ward Executive Officers.

With the projectors, most of them are doing wonderful, though i received three cases where they failed to operate the projectors, so i went to their places and saw the problem, but thank God it was just operational problems, so I manage to fix them.  Up to this moment they are doing just fine.

Hope to hear from you soon, Regards,