[VIDEO] Dar Es Salaam: The City of Opposites

Beautiful, but ugly. Clean, yet dirty. Safe, and dangerous. Rich, yet extremely poor. Dar Es Salaam is all of these and much more. Some of it’s idyllic white sandy beaches can be stunning, while others can be covered in rubbish. Mbalamwezi beach, a 2km stretch of land, even has sewage pouring out directly on the sand, canalling into the Indian ocean!

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Yet, right next to Mbalamwezi, there’s Coco beach, a gorgeous place naturally decorated with palm trees, white sands, and rocky corals. Dar Es Salaam’s relentless heat makes places like these a very welcome sight, and one we’ll visit more often.

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Unfortunately, the most obvious contrast is the disparity between the rich and the poor. Some areas would not look out of place in Vienna or Paris (!), yet, venture into the side streets, and there’s where you’ll find the other side of the coin. People living on the streets, living off little make-shift food stands selling whatever their meagre crop provides – some sell peanuts, some sell sugar canes, others specialise in mango or bananas. Rubbish is everywhere since Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania’s capital city, does not have a city wide, rubbish collection system. Children and animals alike sleep, play and eat on this waste, and no one bats an eyelid. The poor are resigned to their fate while the rich are adamantly looking over such a damning statistic.

Regardless, the people are a happy bunch. Last week, we made friends with a man called Juma Inne, who happens to be a Bajaj driver. These little contraptions are three wheeled, covered motorbikes with a three seater at the back. Needless to say, we have been using it since to go wherever we want for a very reasonable price. So, enjoy the video we put together of one of our rides in the Bajaj:

With all its faults, Dar Es Salaam is a beautiful and unique city. It has some obviously glaring issues to tackle but it is charming nonetheless. We’ve been here for a little over two weeks and it seems to be developing into a completely different adventure from the one we had in Kenya!

Stay tuned.

Androo & Alan

Chaos, Humidity & Satisfaction – Our Tanzanian Story Begins

Habari from Tanzania!

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It has been quite a busy week, our most eventful yet. Just over a week ago we left our Kenyan home for Tanzania but it honestly feels like it’s been a month. Our journey to Tanzania started at 17:00, amongst the chaos of Nairobi. We had to take a taxi to a nearby bus station. From there we boarded one of the many intercity busses towards the centre of Nairobi where, halfway through, we got stuck in a massive traffic jam. Time was ticking so we had to get off the bus midway and ran, with more than 30kgs on our backs, to a nearby taxi stand. The jam still persisted so we had to hire motorbikes for taxis. Keep in mind the overwhelming amount of luggage we were carrying. Thankfully, we had very capable drivers, although Androo’s bike did break down. Twice. He had to run the last 500 meters..

We made it though, and just in time. Our bus was just about to leave for Tanzania when we boarded and proceeded to hog half the luggage space available.

According to Google Maps, by car, the trip should have taken us about 11 hours. We weren’t so lucky. The bus was somewhat old, slow and bursting with people and luggage. Frequent road blocks and stops at immigration control offices stretched our journey to 23 hours. Twenty three.

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We arrived at our destination at 16:00 the next day, sleeping most of the way. Yet, whereas Nairobi was a cool 22 degrees, Dar es Salaam is nothing but a sticky and humid 33 degree hell. We looked like we hadn’t showered in weeks, but we were too happy that we made it with all our luggage intact to notice.

We have managed to prepare a short video of our travels too. Please note that all footage was taken with a GoPro Hero3, sometimes in very uncomfortable situations, as well as with an HTC One. We used iMovie for iPad to edit it so, excuse the lack of fine tuning. Ideally, everything would have been shot with our DSLR, but it is not advisable to run around with a very visible camera in your hands, so our GoPro had to make do.

Thankfully the Tanzanians are very friendly people, most of them very eager to make sure we have a pleasant experience here. Befriending the locals is extremely easy, and although few know how to speak English, basic communication is possible.

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Our home for the next 8 weeks is situated in the heart of the Mburahati slum area in Dar es Salaam, where we will be working with the Sisters of Mother Theresa. You see, over-population and poverty do not go well together. Parents can barely afford to feed themselves, and so they end up dumping their own children at the door of the Sisters’ convent. Most of their patients are orphans, ranging from newborns to 80 year olds. To some extent, these people are lucky – they have a roof over their heads, beds to sleep in, regular food and a lot of people to take care of them. Much more than thousands of others just outside our wall.

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Our work shall mostly focus on the kids with special needs as well as with the nursery children. We won’t go into too much detail here because we want to dedicate a separate article for this. There is too much to say to blurt it all here.

All in all, Tanzania is proving to be very different from our Kenyan experience and a much bigger challenge. Our freedom has greatly diminished since Dar es Salaam can be very dangerous to white foreigners. Severe poverty breeds savagery, unfortunately. Moreover, the compound we’re staying in is much smaller than Lolgorien’s and bereft of any countryside, replaced with towering grey concrete. Needless to say, this is what we took our trip for, to challenge our comfort zones in every possible way.

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Stay tuned!

Androo & Alan

A Sour Farewell: We’re Off To Tanzania

Happy New Year 2015!

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Today is our last day in Lolgorien. Already. Tomorrow, we start our 3 day journey towards Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. We leave early in the morning to Nairobi, hoping to arrive there late that evening so that on Monday we can board the 14 hour ‘express’ bus to Tanzania’s capital.

Needless to say, it’s been an amazing experience here in Kenya! We’ve met so many people, and made so many friends that it is honestly a sour goodbye.

Our library project is almost finished. Unfortunately we won’t be present for its completion, although we do plan to return for a few days to see it in full flow before we go back home to Malta in August. All that’s left is a final paint-job and the installation of shelves and desks. The books have all been bought, ceiling installed and electricity properly wired. We decided to baptise it the Calypso Library!

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Join Hands For Africa, all due to the unwavering generosity shown to us by our countrymen, has had a very fruitful beginning:
– A lot of clothes have already been donated (and donned!);
Three children have had their education sponsored for one whole year – a total of €660.

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– €1500 has been collected specifically for cattle, therefore the school is officially free of all dairy expenses!
– €1200 for books.
– More than €1800 for material and labour for the Calypso Library.
– Therefore, a total of more than €5000 has been collected for the community of Lolgorien.. and this is just the beginning! THANK YOU everyone!

We are also eternally grateful towards all the people of this community. They have welcomed us with open arms (and lots of food) and we owe all our comfort and wellbeing to these people. Their excitement, ululations and genuine solidarity shall never be forgotten. Plus, we have been blessed with the sweetest and most caring Mama of them all, Mama Rosalina. She cooked our food – the best we’ve been served in Kenya – washed our clothes and kept everything ticking without ever forgetting her smile. She will be truly missed!

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We came to call this compound home, and I’m sure we’ll have another kind of homesickness to deal with once we leave. Yet it feels like it is time to move on and we hope our future in Tanzania and beyond is as rich as our time in Kenya.

Stay tuned, we’re on the move!

Androo & Alan