It’s the end of another busy, yet wonderful week here in Mwanza. With the addition of two new roommates (Jaimie and Sabrina) we now have four Canadians in our apartment, so we had some mini festivities in honour of Canada Day. At breakfast we did a wonderful rendition of “O Canada” and then during dinner (of poutine and red cake) we compiled our Canadian music for a little canuck medley.
We are progressing, slowly but surely, on our work at the yogurt kitchen. Our case study is nearly completed, and we are laying the groundwork for helping the Yogurt Mamas with their business plan. This week they changed the pricing of their yogurt to more accurately reflect the cost of production – a change that was well overdue. Ruben and Jaimie are doing a clinical trial about the effects of probiotic yogurt on the health of HIV/AIDS patients, so the Yogurt Mamas have ramped up production in order to supply the yogurt for the study participants. The extra yogurt accumulating in the fridges seems to have been the little push they needed to get out into the city and seek out new customers. They made one delivery to a first-time customer on Friday of 20 litres! At this rate, the Yogurt Mamas will be expert businesswomen in no time!
With about 10 hours of Swahili lessons under my belt, I’ve gotten pretty comfortable making purchases and bargaining for prices. Beautiful fabric is sold in hundreds of shops here, so it has become my spontaneous purchase of choice. On my way to Swahili lesson on Monday, some pink fabric caught my eye so I bought it. I didn’t really have time to haggle the price, nor was I that concerned about the 75 cent price difference it would make. Wow…was that a mistake! At home I took my fabric out of the package to show Sabrina and Pendo (our housekeeper) took it from me to inspect. She was quite distraught that my fabric was of substandard quality and even more upset that I had paid the “wazungu” (foreigner/white person) price. She insisted, in Swahili of course, that I go back to the store and get new fabric. When I suggested that I would go “kesho” (the next day) she yelled “HAPANA!” (No). So needless to say, I had to go back and switch my fabric. Lesson learned: don’t show Pendo your purchases and if she asks what you paid, lie by 20%.
Yesterday Sabrina and I visited the Forever Angels baby orphanage again. Many of the babies at the orphanage are there simply because their parents cannot cover the high expenses of an infant, so it is not uncommon that the children are eventually returned to their birth parents. Therefore it is quite common for parents to visit the orphanage (or even be employed by the orphanage), so they can continue to spend time with their child. One mother visited yesterday, but it was definitely not the idyllic picture I had imagined. The mother looked nothing like a mother. She was in fact a child herself – timid, petite, only 14 years old. I’ve heard many stories about young mothers here in Africa, but age is just a number until you see a face. It was just one of those situations that fills you with so many different emotions that you aren’t really sure what they all are.
On a happier note, my sunglasses provided endless entertainment for the kids!
Aside from these highlights, life is as usual here in Mwanza. When I first arrived here, someone warned me to take photos of everything in the first few weeks, as things would cease to surprise me. They were absolutely right – it’s amazing how quickly everything starts to seem normal. For the benefit of those at home in Canada, I have compiled a few photos of what I mean by “life as usual”…
Jaimie buying a snack
Down the street from City Hall
Construction in Mwanza (note the scaffolding of tree trunks)
Mwanza style transportation...
“Daladalas”, Mwanza’s public transportation, are these little vans. Having over 20 people in one is not out of the ordinary.
And yes, that is a bicycle towering with plastic pitchers
And yes, that woman is carrying a sewing machine on her head