Thinking of Interning With WHE?

Mambo everyone!

It’s been almost three months since I’ve returned back from my summer internship in Mwanza, Tanzania. Time sure has flown! I’ve gotten back into my busy daily routine with classes, exams, work and everything in between. I’ve finished up creating the final versions of the health education and promotional materials for probiotic products in English and Swahili and I’m currently working on an autoethnographical review of my experience for my final project! I’ll also be participating in a few public education campaigns at Western’s upcoming International Week so stay tuned! 🙂

I can’t believe that it was around this time last year that I decided to apply to the Western Heads East internship program! If you’re interested in gaining hands on experience in a variety of fields, acquiring valuable skills in a global setting and working towards being a part of large scale change look no further! I’ll be giving a little insight towards being an intern + some tips for the application process.


To be eligible for a WHE internship opportunity, you must:

  • Be a current undergraduate (or graduate student) at Western
    • 18+
    • Have completed of your second year of university
    • Returning to Western after the internship (in order to fulfill post-internship requirements and responsibilities)
  • Be eligible to receive course credit
    • For example: An experiential learning course within your faculty

Internship Program Details:

The WHE internship program has a 90 day internship commitment (the days will FLY Image result for africa map clipartby trust me)! You also have the choice of which partner country as well as program/organization you would like to worth with. WHE currently has partners in Tanzania (where I went), Kenya as well as Rwanda.

Check out the possible opportunities here as well follow the instructions on how to apply via Western’s international experience portal Atlas – you can login with your Western ID and search “Western Heads East” to reveal all the current internship opportunities and fill out the application accordingly. Definitely take some time and don’t rush through the application questions. Don’t forget the deadline is December 1, 2018 !

What Might be Holding you Back?

I personally had to overcome a few obstacles before I gathered the courage to apply for this internship opportunity.

“I don’t know anyone else who wants to go” 

Image result for lonely emojiThis was a huge unknown for me – I didn’t know anyone else who was interested in participating in the program or any of the other interns going. You will overcome this feeling. You’ll get the chance to meet all the other interns during pre-departure workshops and training and they’ll likely be feeling the same way you are – a bit scared, nervous but also excited and you can share those feeling with each other.

You’ll also become close to the people you live with. In Mwanza, there were seven of us who lived together and shared so many unforgettable memories with each other – you’ll also meet people in Mwanza who are super friendly so you’ll never feel lonely!

The Cost 

Image result for money emoji

Most students (myself included) use their summer break to work and save up for the upcoming year. The first question that came into my mind was definitely how I would be able to finance this trip – there were so many expenses to consider, not only the flight and accommodation costs but also travel insurance, malaria pills, vaccinations and more. It became clear to me that my experience abroad was adding up and I began to shy away from the idea of even considering applying.

What I didn’t know was the amount of funding that I was eligible for by Western through their scholarships and funding for international learning. I took some time to look through and apply to different scholarships such as the Global Opportunities as well as International Learning Awards and was even able to apply to my faculty’s Student Opportunity Fund (Health Science) – which allows students to apply for funding to help further enrich their experience in the field of health sciences. Collectively, these funding opportunities helped to offset the overall cost of my internship so that I didn’t have too much of a financial burden that may have prevented me from further considering the internship opportunity.

“I’m not a science student”

Image result for scientist emojiIt may seem that the projects we participated in were more “science based” but that’s definitely not the case. Any background or skillset is applicable to a variety of different projects. For example, a business background is extremely useful when tracking costs, revenues and developing marketing programs, strategies and plans for future growth. A design background for developing effective promotional materials, a computer science background for website development and so much more.

The internship experience is extremely diverse and versatile and you will end up gaining so many practical and valuable skills at such an early stage in your career that can help you in the long run.

Thanks for taking the time to read through my post! I sincerely hope that you consider applying for a Western Heads East Internship and feel free to reach out with any questions!

Until next time,

Kwa Heri,


Wrapping up

Mambo everyone!

This is my last weekend here in Mwanza and I’m spending it visiting some family and wrapping up a few of our projects here. The last couple of weeks have been quite hectic as Diane and I have been wrapping up our data collection at all of the yogurt kitchens. Our project has taken us all around Mwanza and has been great way for us to see different parts of the city as well as meet some amazing and hardworking people! While we didn’t get to finish the data collection for all of the kitchens (there are about 50!) we have been able to analyze the current data for trends and common challenges and have hopefully set a good foundation to be continued by future interns!

Just last week, Kathy and Megha completed their nutritional intervention at Foundation Karibu Tanzania (FKT) with the Fiti uji and juice. The kids seemed to enjoy it and we have been working to spread the implementation of Fiti in different organizations. A couple of weeks ago Diane and I visited Village of Hope Mwanza, a Canadian run organization that provides housing, education and health care to vulnerable children throughout Africa. The children who stay there live in houses that are comprised of children of different ages that act as role models for the younger children in the house as well as a “Mama” that helps care for them, mirroring a family setting. The core values that this organization displays help to provide hope to children and allow them to be contributing members of society. Village of Hope seems to be a perfect fit to expand the Fiti uji program to and we hope that it is able to continue!

Also a few weeks ago we also said goodbye to our good friends Lily and Brian, one of the first people we met in Mwanza. Back in May, Kathy, Megha and I would go to Lily’s house to test Fiti juice, ugali and uji proceures in her kitchen. Lily was lovely and cooked us a wonderful dinner and gifted us with khangas and kitenge aprons. It was such a beautiful gesture and I will always remember their kindness and hospitality towards us during our time in Mwanza.

I just got back from visiting some family and spending some time going through old photos. It was amazing to see photos of my dad in some of the places that I see and walk past everyday. This trip has been a great experience to see where my dad grew up and the places he has told us about from his childhood as well as make memories of my own. I’m looking forward to coming home and sharing more of my experiences with everyone

Until next time,

Kwa Heri,


Fabric shopping in the market – these colourful prints are called kitenge

Village of Hope Mwanza

Amazing rice, beans and fish from a place near SAUT (St. Augustine University of Tanzania) and only TZS 2000 (about CAD $1.20)!!!!!!!

Diane, Kathy, Megha and I with our friends Brian and Lily

Another Mwanza sunset!

My family used to own the Blue Cafe in Mwanza – we found this picture of what the cafe used to look like back in the day and below is what the space looks like now!

2 Months Down, 1 to go!

Mambo everyone!

I have been in Mwanza for over 2 months now and I’m looking forward to making the most of my remaining month here (the countdown is on)! Upon returning back from the Serengeti, Megha and Kathy have begun their nutrition intervention project at Foundation Karibu implementing the Fiti juice and uji (porridge) in a breakfast feeding program and observing the effects among different groups of children who are being fed the different Fiti products. We will hopefully be seeing some results from their study soon!

In the meantime, Diane (one of the SAUT interns) and I have been continuing our visits of the different Fiti kitchens in Mwanza and collecting qualitative and quantitative data via interviews. Many of our recent visits have been to Yogurt Mama’s operating out of their own houses and it has been really inspiring to see their work ethic and dedication towards making their business successful! One of the Mama’s (Mama Iqra) even designed her own pamphlets to hand out to her customers so that they would know what exactly probiotics are and how they are beneficial to your health! Another Mama, (Mama Edna) has her own NGO called EAHP Tanzania (Enhancing Access to Health for Poverty Reduction) and runs her yogurt business on the side. It was amazing to hear some her future visions with the organization, including continuing Mikono Yetu’s vision of women’s empowerment through training girls on how to own and operate a yogurt kitchen to make them financially independent and not only increase their wellbeing, but the wellbeing of their children and family as well. I have learned a lot from the Mama’s over the past two months and have used their experiences as a source of inspiration towards creating new ideas and solutions to the challenges that they are facing.

We hope to focus the rest of our time here towards continuing to promote the Fiti brand and its benefits through a variety of different platforms and implement a long term plan to ensure that these efforts are ongoing and continue to have an impact on the community. I just finished drafting an information pamphlet the other day that we hope to begin distributing at the yogurt kitchens and surrounding areas! I look forward to seeing some of our work begin to have an impact on the community and see more people become informed and aware of the health benefits of probiotics to them.

Kathy, Megha and myself have been continuing our visits to the Tukuamwane kitchen twice a week where we were able to observe them making their yogurt as well as teach them the procedure for Fiti mango juice. Unfortunately, our mango juice turned out bad but we had lots of fun with the Mama’s learning how they run their kitchen. They are also involved in a breakfast program with a nearby school so we learned how to prepare and serve chapati (a type of flatbread), chai, milk and yogurt to them – it was a great experience and I had a lot of fun trying to talk to all the kids who came by.

Time truly is flying by and I cannot  believe that there is less than one month remaining here! It feels like we had arrived in Mwanza just last week and were finding our way around the town! I am looking forward to what the next month has in store

Until next time,

Kwa Heri,



Checking the milk temperature during pasteurization
Tasting yogurt at one of our kitchen visits 
Visiting kitchens that use their own cows to supply consistent and high quality milk
View of the lake from our dinner location
Golden Hour 🙂 
Making chapati at Tukuamwane 


A Weekend in the Serengeti

Mambo everyone!

I was lucky enough to visit the Serengeti National Park about 2 weeks ago and it was a truly amazing and unforgettable experience! I was able to see many animals extremely close up and in their natural habitat (I even got a few selfies in with them)! The Serengeti is simply huge – as we were driving through, we were surrounded by grasslands and trees alongside the wildlife that inhabited them on all sides for as far as we could see. It was incredible to witness such a diversity of wildlife as well, from big giraffes, lions, elephants and hippos to wildebeest, zebras, leopards, warthogs and impala to name a few. No matter where you looked, every single angle of the Serengeti was picture perfect.

Before we entered the gates into the Serengeti, we stopped at a place to have breakfast and ensure that all of our permits/paperwork was in order. I was sitting at the table eating my banana when suddenly, out of nowhere a monkey comes and steals the rest of the bunch! It was quite funny to see our guide chasing the monkey around to get the bananas back! On the way back from the Serengeti, the same monkey attempted to climb into our Safari car through the opening in the roof in the hopes of stealing more food! They are definitely mischievous animals!

We were lucky enough to witness both the sunrise and sunset on all of the days that we were on the safari and while I wanted to capture every single moment as it passed, sometimes just sitting there and appreciating the calm and tranquil surroundings was something that couldn’t be captured in a picture. The pink-orange rays peeking through the clouds as the sun rose and fiery red sky as the sun set took my breath away and I often couldn’t believe that I was witnessing this natural beauty with my very own eyes.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the safari was being able to pass through a herd of elephants right before the sun had set on our first day in the Serengeti. We had spotted the elephants from afar and weren’t sure if we would be able to make it to them in time but our guide was able to find the perfect spot to watch as they passed around us (close enough to reach out and touch them!). Elephants are such majestic creatures and I was mesmerized with every movement that they made. We had to be extremely quiet so as not to aggravate the elephants who would have been easily able to knock over the car in one quick motion!

The next day, we drove to the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area which was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The Crater was formed after a volcanic explosion and collapse occurred millions of years ago and is home to many wildlife species as well as people of the Maasai tribe. Upon entering Ngorongoro we saw a picturesque panorama point from above, with the lake in the middle surrounded by high mountains, it looked like a giant bowl. I was surprised when we made our way down into the crater and were able to see so many animals and birds inhabiting the area – it looked almost empty from above! The crater was filled with zebras, wildebeest, buffalo, ostriches, elephants and many more animals. There are only a few remaining rhinos that are kept under close protection from hunters/poachers so we were unfortunately not able to see any. I loved being able to stick my head out the roof and feel the breeze while being surrounded by such diversity of wildlife and vegetation.

I had the most amazing safari experience and would definitely return in a heartbeat! Enjoy some pictures from my adventure below!

Until next time,

Kwa Heri,


Dar es Salaam

Mambo everyone!

Apologies for the delay in blogging! It’s been an eventful few weeks which I can’t wait to share with you all through my blog over the next few days. I spent Eid weekend (about 3 weekends ago) in Dar es Salaam where I was able to spend my time visiting family, trying new foods and seeing as much of the city as I could in the short period of time that I was there.

Overall, Dar es Salaam is simply amazing! The city is very different from Mwanza in terms of overall development and pace of life. I found Dar to be a lot more enjoyable in terms of things to do, not to mention that it was a food lovers paradise! From the moment that the city came into view from the airplane, the high rise buildings and busy roads reminded me of home a little – there was even a Pizza Hut! It was still quite humid despite being the ‘winter’ season – I can’t imagine summer there! I had more food than you could ever imagine during those 3 days – Biryani, Mishkaki, Burgers, BBQ Chicken, Cassava, Coconut and lots of ice cream! We were able to visit Oyster Bay beach (although it rained like crazy!), Slipway Market (a great place for handcrafted souvenirs and ice cream along the water) and Seacliff area (right against the ocean). Being able to relax and spend time with my family was amazing and my short trip to Dar es Salaam is definitely one of my favourite experiences of my trip so far. I was sad to have to come back to Mwanza but ready to get back into routine after my weekend away. I’m hoping to be able to return to the city at least once before I go home!

The next day after returning to Mwanza, the Mikono Yetu Interns paid a visit to Foundation Karibu Tanzania (FKT), an NGO that works to eliminate Child Domestic Violence in Mwanza. It was incredible to see some of the success stories from the organization of rehabilitating children and seeing how far they’ve come from when they first arrived. Kathy and Megha have partnered with this amazing organization to test the health benefits and positive effects of new Fiti products such as juice and uji (porridge) with the children there. It should hopefully be a successful project!

Stay tuned for the next post all about the Serengeti and updates on our projects!

Until next time,

Kwa Heri,


View from the plane!

Mint chocolate gelato at Slipway
Sea Cliff area

Oreo milkshake at Aroma

Fresh cassava chips, sugarcane juice and mishkaki at Oyster Bay
Sweet potato and cassava 
Oyster Bay Beach 
Fresh cassava chips in the making
Sunset on our way back to Mwanza

One Month Down

Mambo everyone!

It has now been about one month since I arrived here in Mwanza, time sure does fly! I feel like we have all settled into a routine here, working on our projects as well as spending time with family and friends, finding our way around on the Dala Dala and practicing our Swahili as much as we can. After Bob and Jessica left Mwanza last week, we have been working on implementing some more ideas for the progression of our projects. Part of this has been to work with the Tukuamwane kitchen to make a pineapple flavoured yogurt as well as to work on raising more awareness to the benefits of probiotic yogurt to the general public. This past week the Mikono Yetu Interns (Kathy, Megha and myself) met with Celestina (from Mikono Yetu) to visit Tukuamwane and talk with the Mamas there about what we could do to reach these goals. We also worked on creating a few samples of pineapple flavoured yogurt in different flavour ratios to taste test with the Mamas to see what they thought would be a successful product and even worked on making it together! It was a great experience to work hands on with the Mamas and they were so eager to work with us and learn how we made the flavoured yogurt using natural fruit flavouring. We were also able to learn a lot from them and their experience in making yogurt over the years alongside running a successful business. The Mamas knew what challenges they were facing and shared some great ideas about how to overcome them together with our asistance.

The pineapples here are so sweet (unlike back home where they are more acidic) and also relatively inexpensive so I have been eating one almost everyday! I was also able to visit the local fruit market last weekend and see all the vendors selling their fresh fruits! Last weeks haul included pineapple (of course) as well as mango, avocado, limes and oranges!

We will be going back to Tukuamwane this week to give out free samples of the yogurt and advertise the benefits of probiotics to everyone in the area. Tukuamwane is one of the largest and most successful probiotic yogurt kitchens here in Mwanza so we are hoping to learn some successful strategies to implement in other kitchens. We usually travel with at least one person from Mikono Yetu who is able to help us navigate the area and assist in translating from Swahili to English but this week the Mamas told us to try coming on our own and have a chance to practice our Swahili and their English skills. It should be a fun experience! (Wish us luck!) Hopefully I’ll have more updates (and pictures) next week!

Until next time,
Kwa Heri,


When making the pineapple flavoured yogurt, we originally used a blender (we realized too late that the Tukuamwane kitchen did not have one) so this method was our innovative solution to juice the pineapple – lots of arm strength required (Which I quickly realized I did not have) 
Update: we found a blender (my arms were thankful) 
Pasteurizing the pineapple juice – double boiling the juice until reaching a temperature of 85 degrees Celsius to ensure that all harmful bacteria have been removed 
Using hot coal to fuel the stove
Megha stirring the juice and measuring the temperature 

A Brand New Week

Mambo everyone!

Thank you all for your kind messages about the events of last week. It meant so much to me that many of you took the time to reach out and ensure that I was okay. 🙂

This past week has been a lot better and I’ve been able to make a lot of progress on my projects of evaluating current community kitchens and creating a map of their locations as well as a universal database. So far we have visited around 6 kitchens, each with their own unique characteristics and strengths. The trek between all the kitchens can be exhausting, especially with the sun beating down and being unable to drink during the day due to fasting in the month of ramadhan. I have to make sure that I stay hydrated by drinking lots of water in the evening after sunset and again before sunrise.

A typical kitchen visit involves first travelling to the kitchen (generally by a combination of Dala Dala and walking) – we usually meet with our friend Kato who serves as both a guide and translator between the different kitchens. Upon reaching the yogurt kitchen we introduce ourselves to the mamas and explain the types of questions we will be asking and why. We then proceed to ask questions such as when their kitchen was established, how much yogurt they produce, how much they sell it for, challenges faced in their kitchen as well as plans for future growth among others. I have gotten used to asking some of the basic questions in Swahili but still require Kato to provide a more detailed description of the questions and an accurate translation of the answers I am looking for. I have since been working on compiling all of the data with my fellow interns, comparing notes and creating a master copy of the interview data gathered. It has been an amazing learning experience so far, being able to see firsthand how running probiotic yogurt kitchens has changed the lives of so many women and provided them with independence and empowerment to be able to create a better life for themselves and their families.

Bob and Jessica (who are involved in directing the Western Heads East Program and our Internships) arrived on Wednesday after visiting the Kenya and Rwanda hubs. It was great to see them and update them on our work so far as well as plan out the future for our projects. We attended a very informative meeting at the Kivulini Women’s Rights Organization as well as at Saint Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) as we look to expand the probiotic yogurt program and raise awareness to all the health benefits. Bob and Jessica’s visit ended off with us spending Saturday afternoon on Saanane Island, one of the highlights of our trip so far! There was such a wide variety of plant and animal life on the island and I had great fun capturing photos during our time there. An unexpected hike upwards through the rocks led us to the most breathtaking views of Lake Victoria as well as walking (literally) alongside zebras, seeing lions, monkeys, peacocks and so much more. It was a perfect end to the week! Looking forward to what next week has in store!

With the Mamas at Tukwamuane Yoguty Kitchen – the first and largest probiotic yogurt kitchen in Mwanza!


With our guide/translator from Mikono Yetu- Kato
The view from our hike on Saanane Island
A group picture at Jumping Rock
A typical Mwanza sunset on Lake Victoria 😍

Until next time,
Kwa Heri,