Charlie 4 – Highlights, Challenges and Moving Forwards

15th November 2013

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Mambo from Charlie 4!

As we are now approaching the end of Phase One, it is the perfect time to review the many highlights and challenges we have experienced throughout the 4 weeks.

 

Starting with the challenges…

One of the key issues we have experienced has been the language barrier. Whilst we haven’t noticed this as much in Nkonkilangi, it has become more apparent in the nearby village of Ntwike where the Skumu tribe speak their own local language and only limited Swahili.   Problems also arose during the beginning of our Action Research phase.  Members of the community were not familiar with the concept and so were wary about answering our questions. However, with time we were greeted warmly and were kindly invited into their homes as in Nkonkilangi.

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In terms of more personal challenges both the Tanzanian and UK volunteers have been struggling with one unavoidable part of nature… the midday sun. For a lot of our team members it is the hottest weather we have ever experienced. However, we soon learnt that unless we want a very grouchy team we should rest between 12 and 3, saving our energy for the rest of the day. This has worked really well, as we still manage to get a lot of work done each day. Also, we can’t forget the food! After days of spaghetti and rice, we decided we would have to mix it up a little. As a result, we’ve become a lot more inventive with our limited ingredients - our fancy new menu has included chips, potato curry and even a lunch of garlic bread (all with tomato and onion sauce of course!) We are currently preparing our stomachs for the whole goat which has been offered to us from one of the community members (Kocha, the uncle of the aforementioned Juma!). We will have just 2 days to eat roughly 10kg of goat before we leave the camp for Mid-term Review, but we think we can rise to the challenge!

Last but not least… the animals. At first the nightly giggles from the “fisi” (hyenas) were difficult to tune out, but we’ve learnt to adapt to our surroundings. We’re now pros at preventing scorpions, spiders and any other unwanted creatures from entering our tents. We’re proud to say that no one has been bitten so far!

Now for the highlights…

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As our time here has developed, we have definitely become a tighter team. We’ve also started to build friendships within the community. Many of the children have become regulars at our camp, frequently visiting to colour in and play games such as basketball and “piggy in the middle” (Tanzanian style). One of this week’s highlights has been our Charlie 4 Work Experience Day, which formed part of our Community Integration phase. This involved splitting into small groups and spending the day working within different areas of the village. Roles included teaching and cooking at Sekenke Primary School, joining in at choir practice at the local Church and working at a range of shops within the village. We all had an amazing day, and believe that the community enjoyed it too. It was so successful that we’ll be doing it again shortly. It is also safe to say that the community really look out for us – we are continually asked if we are okay and have any “majangas” (disasters)! Recently, we’ve also made some developments to our camp, which now features a state-of-the-art tippy tap (with soap even tied to the tree) and a cosy new mat for us to sit on.

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We’ve had a great 4 weeks and are really looking forward to beginning Phase Two. We’re currently preparing proposals for our secondary project, which we will be presenting next week. These ideas have been derived from the information we gained during our Action Research phase. It has been found that many members of the local community do not boil their water (much of which is from a nearby river due to the high salt content in the water from the village taps).  Therefore, we hope to install Rocket Stoves within the village – stoves which are easy and cheap to build, and so will therefore hopefully be implemented on a wider scale once we leave. Other ideas include building a library at the secondary school in Ntwike, painting educational murals and digging communal fire pits to encourage better disposal of waste.

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Stay tuned for more from Charlie 4!