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While I was in Tanzania, there was much discussion about the situation in Zimbabwe. The first conversation I had about it was with two barmen at Kipepeo. They were very knowledgable and extremely vocal about the regime of Robert Mugabe which is again in the Uk press. They were interesting young men and very very opinionated and politically aware. I can’t actually report exactly what they said of the situation in Zimbabwe but suffice to say they were not happy about it.


So here are Miraj on the left and Hadiki on the right. They also gave me a lesson in Kiswahili which I recorded and if I get round to it will edit it and post it here. Yes as you can see – Coca Cola is everywhere, but while I’m on about this, there are no MacDonalds or Starbucks in Tanzania. As a bit of additional information, Kilimanjaro as well as being the highest mountain in Africa is the local brew, and very nice it is. They were very insistant that I knew that Kilimanjaro was in Tanzania. It is there because Queen Victoria ‘gave’ it to her nephew the Kaiser as ‘he likes things that are big and high’. So it was originally in Kenya or what was British East Africa and the border was drawn round it so that it was in German East Africa or Tanzania.


I did spend a lot of time back at the house, just relaxing/sleeping. It’s amazing how the body sort of realises that this is a holiday and goes into recovery mode. I would sit down to read and the next thing I knew I’d be asleep – and this is 2 hours after getting up from at least 8 hours sleep! Oh well, I just reckoned it was because I needed it and just enjoyed it. As I’ve mentioned before, I was awake most mornings by sunrise and just used to potter out to the front steps to sort of come to terms with the day.


Here is a fine example of why you should look properly at what you are photographing – otherwise you end up with a picture showing loo cleaner on the table!  I had put it there to remind us to get some when we went shopping and hadn’t removed it before I took the shot.  So above is a picture of the table on the verandah where we ate and an empty bottle of harpic or something.

Before me everyday however, Anton would be out in the garden either cutting grass or gardening. Cutting grass consists of swinging a massive long and very sharp blade which is pretty lethal if in the wrong hands. Anton is the house boy and he looks after the house and dogs when Pia and Steve are back in Europe. He is a great gardener and was planting loads of vegetables and flowers when I was there.


He would have already been up, boiled the kettle and filled a flask with hot water. This was then left on the sideboard so we could help ourselves to tea or coffee.


Sitting here in a wet and dreary Yorkshire writing about my time there makes me determined to go back.

This is going to be very short as I’m off for yet another meeting. I went to a one day conference at the University of Leeds yesterday. It was great to be able to go to an event on the train and to be back in Leeds, which is a great city. The event was sponsored by Edutxt who are a company who specialise in managing SMS messages for use in education. What a great day and there was so much innovative and creative stuff around. Andy Black was a great keynote speaker and we even got another chance to watch Catherine Tate and Tony Blair. Go on it’s worth watching again! Most of the stuff is reported on Andy’s site so won’t say much more here. Though the presentation from the guys at East Coast College was so good. While I was there I also popped in to see my colleagues from the other side of the Pennines who were doing a day’s event on e-portfolios. I even managed to sneek into a session on ELGG. So a good day all together. Probably the most astonishing part of the day was that I managed to walk past Primark on my way back down to the station!

Immaculata is the lady that ‘does’ for Pia and Steve. She had only been working for them for about 2 weeks when I got there. She was lovely and made a fantastic rice and beans (both kidney and mung). She was very keen for Pia and I to visit her house so one afternoon we all set off down the hill to her house. We had to go past the school so our progress caused much discussion and some alarm as we had the dogs with us. As we made our way down the thin track we gathered a small clan of children in our wake. The houses are all built by the families themselves with mud bricks and then sort of rendered with a sort of thinner mud slip. The house was very neat and tidy with various newspaper pages with political stories pasted up on the wall. One wall had a sofa with delicately crocheted and embroidered mats on both the seat and the back. As you can see our entourage didn’t leave once we were inside!


By the way – this was a good hair day, on other days it was at least four times bigger! Immaculata had left some soda cooling in water so we sat and drank Fanta. Her youngest son came in and showed us what he had been doing at school. Immaculata and her husband, whose name I’ve forgotten, had two older girls who were both at secondary school. This is quite a commitment as you have to pay for secondary education. One was in Tanga and stayed there during term time. The other was at a secondary school up the hill. We all stood outside for photos – the children are Francis and Veronica (pronounced Veronique-a)


It was while we were there that Pia was offered the chicken – still alive. I think my face was one of abject horror and it was decided that the chicken would appear on Friday for my last meal.

Tanga was hot, very hot. It is just under a thousand metres down from Emau Hill and it makes a big difference to the temperature. After breakfast, Steve Clive and Rosa went of to the market and other places and Maria and I walked down the road to the fabric shops. Oh my what fun we had. There you can buy Kanga’s which are the lengths of fabric which the women wear wrapped around them in all sorts of creative ways. There are also lengths of kitenga which are the printed material which is used for some of the bags. As well as getting loads of lining materials and cottons for the workshop Maria chose some lengths of these. I however, was a bit like a kiddie in a sweet shop and was ‘I’ll have two of those and one of those, and oh let me see – yes I’ll have some of that’. I seemed to have spent a fortune and when I took it to the till it came to about £4! I couldn’t believe it. It was all wrapped up and we carried it off back to the cafe for a cold drink. I realise now that I didn’t take anywhere nearly enough photographs as it would have been nice to have some pictures of Tanga, the shops etc, just to give a feel of the place. We met the others and Rosa and Maria went off to do their own thing – which was have their hair done. They are earning their own money and it means they can afford a few luxuries. We went off to the Yacht Club where we met Stan and Sandra from Zimbabwe. That is another story.

On the Thursday of the second week, Steve had to go to Tanga for some shopping. We left very early – about six-ish and it was then that I took the photo at the top of this blog. Just because I like it I’m going to put it in again.


I actually saw this every morning as just by opening one eye I could look out of the window from my bedroom and see the sun climbing over the mountain in the distance. Anyway, Clive brought Maria and Rosa down from Emau Hill. Rosa is the cook – and a fantastic one at that can I add and she was shopping with Steve. Maria had a dubious pleasure of going fabric shopping with me.clive.JPG

Ooh look – clive with a TechDis travel mug – gracious it does get around!mariasmall.JPG

Maria is a real stunner and a lovely girl too. She not only is in charge of the workshop but is starting to do the buying of fabric and is keeping the books.

Once we got down to Tanga and my it was a hot and bumpy ride we went straight to a cafe for breakfast. I couldn’t help laughing at the spoof menu. This was the sign outside.roadkill.JPG

You kill it – we grill it. And inside the menu was even more detailed.


Can I just add for those of a nervous disposition, it is a joke. It came from a diner in America but it did make me laugh. I think the daily special is just soooooo sick – Guess the Mess – if you can guess what it is you can eat it for FREE! I’ll talk about the shopping another time – it is fun!

At the Women’s workshop they make a number of different types of bags. In fact Pia and I spent a day there doing some development and came up with a new design – but more of that later. The ones that they already make are really good quality and are made of either canvas, batik or a traditional printed material called Kitenga. Before I left we set up a ‘washing line’ outside the workshop to show off the different types of bags. I had intended to take them to a local shop but I could have sold everyone that I brought back 10 times over.

So – here are our little promotional photos.bags1.JPG

They really do look great and they all are lined and have a zip pocket inside.


The workshop also makes dolls – as you can see sitting on the chair.


Pia hiding behind them – I’m actually using the green one for a work bag at the moment.


The canvas bag with the elephant batik is our prototype. Not bad for 4 hours work – note the ‘added value’ with the braids.


There is one member of the team up at Emau Hill that I haven’t mentioned. She was quite new and was only just learning her job. She was also quite young and inexperienced. The dining banda has no running water but there is a great fresh stream about 250 ft down the hill. Most of the water is brought up by MamaMaji who carries it up in plastic containers on her head. This is then filtered and stored in a large plastic tank. The water is then put into commercial plastic bottles and left in the sunlight for three to four hours. The UV radiation kills all the pathogens. Nobody has been ill in the last seven years from contaminated water. I digress, this carrying of water up the hill hundreds of times a week is a massive job that everyone helped with. So the new team player was being trained while I was there. She had managed 2 one gallon containers at the same time and had just moved on to five gallon containers. Of course she is a donkey – who with great originality was called Jenny. Though to be honest she was mostly referred to as ‘do-n-key’ but with a faux scottish accent like Shrek

Here she is eating a bit of Steve’s garden!


I also forgot to take a photo with the TechDis travel mug – damn!

A short way down the hill from the main site is the Amani Women’s Craft Workshop. There they have three old Singer treddle machines, the type I remember my Mum having. With these they make some fantastic bags, aprons and dolls. Pia has worked really hard with them and the girls produce some super stuff. I’ll post some photos of their products in a few days time. So here are Maria who is in charge with Pia, both modelling aprons on the verandah of the workshop.


The other girls that work there ae Hadija – again modelling an apron.


Vero seen here in action on one of the sewing machines.


Maria again, this time doing a bit of hand sewing.mariastitcing.JPG

Little Baruti is Vero’s son. He is only 5 months old and a little corker and holding – yay a TechDis travel mug.


Finally, we all took turns to look after and entertain him – here Maria is doing a grand job.


Well not so much clay but hey, it was a good song. The other volunteers that were there at the same time were Clive, Anya and Lauren. Anya had spent the previous 6 weeks helping the doctor who left a couple of days before I got there and was now helping Clive and Lauren with some building work. As you can see Clive quickly adopted ‘supervisor’ mode.cliveanyalauren.JPG

Here they are laying concrete/cement – oh dear I didn’t really listen when I asked the difference. It is for the back of the composting toilets which will be well on the way for completion by now I think. The loos at Emau Hill are – different, known as the long drop they consist of a hut with hole in the floor and as it says a long drop to the bottom. The main alarming part of the whole process is the likelihood of a bat flying out as you are in mid-um procedure, ahem as it were. Anyway, they were laying the concrete with holes in it for the pipes to allow the ‘vapour’ to escape from the toilets.


Actually I’m being unfair to Clive as the girls took their turn at supervising. The bricks in the background are made from the local clay and formed then left to dry in the sun.


So astonishingly, no celebrities, no red noses just people giving their time and money to help a small charity at the top of a hill in Tanzania. And finally, Clive as well as having a doctorate in geology runs some holiday cottages in Cornwall, you can find out all about them here.

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