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

Everything That Could Go Wrong…

Hello friends! Week 2 has come and gone- the thrill and excitement of this adventure has started to die down and I’m starting to miss home as well as my family and friends 😔

Apologies for the delay in this post – it has been quite a whirlwind of a week in which we were unfortunately faced with many negative experiences. We have since been recovering, adjusting and trying not to let these events taint our overall experience here. I have waited to write about these experiences for a few reasons:

1) I needed time to cool off and reflect on how I wanted to portray these events. In the days following, I was extremely angry and frustrated and did not want this post to take on the same time and place blame on any one person or action

2) It is extremely difficult and annoying to draft and layout a blog post on my mobile device

3) I am currently in bed suffering from what is likely food poisoning, the power went out not too long ago so I’m spending my abundance of time drafting this post in my notebook

Here goes.

Last Saturday, the Mikono Yetu interns, (Kathy, Megha and myself) went to our friend and neighbourhood Yogurt Mama Lily’s house to work on samples to test probiotic fruit juice, ugali and millet. Lily is quite possibly the most absolute sweetest person that I have ever met. She’s always smiling, laughing and never hesitating to make sure we are comfortable here. We had a great time with her working on the samples, observing the procedure for making fiti probiotic yogurt as well as watching some of the Royal Wedding (yay!!) before heading back to Rock Beach where I had a nice long nap planned for myself.

When I reached my room, I found it unlocked- bizarre, I always double even triple check my door before leaving. I WAS running late that morning so was it possible that I had forgotten? We had only been gone for a few hours so I figured that I must have been extremely careless and forgotten to check the lock before leaving. Upon entering my room, something seemed off- despite being in a rush that morning I definitely did NOT leave my bag on its side with its contents spilling out. With a sinking feeling, I turned my bag over to reveal my worst fear – my laptop and wallet were gone from their usual places. I had not forgotten to lock my door that morning, it had been BROKEN INTO!! I ran over frantically to Megha’s room next door only to realize that she had also suffered the same fate. Within minutes hotel staff had swarmed our rooms, searching for any possible evidence or explanation to these events. Thankfully, no one else was affected but we were all in an initial state of shock as we realized that someone had invaded the one place we thought we were safe in, our home for the next 3 months.

We spent the rest of the day at the police station, giving statements and trying to communicate with our limited knowledge of Swahili as to what had happened to our property and what could be done to get them back. We returned back to the hotel, disappointed, but holding on to the hope that the thief would be caught, as there were already a few suspects in question. It was also Kathy’s birthday that day so we welcomed the distraction of celebrating with Indian food and The Devil Wears Prada – although Kathy also received a birthday gift she never asked for that night – BATS! They had made themselves comfortable in the hallway outside our rooms and enjoyed perching themselves RIGHT above our doors and flying through the corridor at night. I’ve just decided to add them to the list of creatures that I’ve encountered during my stay here so far.

Our newest friends here!

The days following were spent in anger and frustration. The hopeful suspects turned out not to have any involvement with our case, any progress to find out new information or updates were extremely slow and our overall sense of hopefulness plummeted as both Megha and I came to the realization that we may never see our laptops ever again.

We are also still adjusting to the lifestyle and nature here in Mwanza. Crossing a busy intersection where speed limits seem to be non-existent (almost) no longer phases me. The slow and unreliable network connection has become second nature and frequent power outages have led to a lot of improvisation. From these experiences, I’ve learned two very important things:

1) TURN ON FIND MY MAC – even if you’re not travelling to a foreign country, DO IT and do it right now!

2) While it’s respectful to be understanding of cultural differences (as taught to us prior to departure) – it is also okay to be firm and adamant regarding some requests – especially if your health or safety is at risk. The ‘pole pole’ (slow) nature here takes some getting used to. Your food may not come as fast as you’re used to, people may not meet you exactly at the time they said they would, and closets with locks may not be brought to your rooms when promised. Would the outcome have been different had we acted differently? No one knows!

Food poisoning was the cherry on top to end off this eventful week and although I’m certain I’ll be fine in due time, this week has really left me missing home (shout-out to everyone back home for their messages of support and encouragement). I now feel ready to tackle on and approach the next week with an open mind.

Until next time,

Kwa Heri,


Settling In

Mambo everyone!

It has now been a week since I packed up and left my home in London, Ontario to begin my adventure here in Mwanza. I think that the thrilling feeling of such a new and exciting experience is still lingering as I have been keeping myself busy meeting new people and exploring everything around me.

I was able to meet our program supervisor and director at Mikono Yetu, Maimuna alongside some of the other staff that work there to run and oversee the programs and kitchens. The journey to the Mikono Yetu ‘headquarters’ was accompanied by a long and bumpy dala dala ride as well as lots of walking with the hot sun blazing down upon us. Nonetheless, it was a rewarding experience to meet the staff there and learn firsthand how they each contribute to such a great program that allows for the financial empowerment and independence of so many women in the community.

I’m looking forward to starting my project of assisting in mapping and evaluating the community kitchens as well as looking for key important trends and characteristics in order to establish a sustainable model for the success of future yogurt kitchens. There are a few tasks I’ve come by already that I never thought that I would be working on– such as grant applications and business proposals, but I’m learning how to collaborate with my fellow interns to approach any challenges we may face.

I also love how close our Mwanza intern group has become already – I look forward to our daily “family meetings” in my room with snacks and board games as well as regular adventures in the market and eating together every night. I don’t think that I would have been able to adjust to living here so quickly without their support 🙂

We were able to visit Saint Augustine University (SAUT) here in Mwanza with Diane and Kajan to hear about their project proposals to the professor that would increase awareness to the Campus Yogurt Kitchen as well as benefits of probiotic yogurt– I’m looking forward to seeing these ideas come to life! We also bought some yogurt for ourselves which was a perfect complement to the hot day.

I was also fortunate to be able to meet with some family and friends this past weekend who showed me around Mwanza as well as some the places where my dad and his family grew up here. While I’ve heard many stories and seen some pictures of these places, it was a whole different experience to be standing there myself after all these years. I’m looking forward to doing some more exploring here!

Until next time,

Kwa Heri,


Mambo – informal greeting (“Hey!”)

Dala Dala – local bus in Tanzania

Kwa Heri – Goodbye

SUnset 2
Sunset view from a hike near Capri Point
Sunset 1
Another gorgeous Mwanza sunset 
Mwanza Secondary
My dad’s old school – Mwanza Secondary School!
SAUT Yogurt
Trying Fiti Yogurt at the SAUT Yogurt Kitchen (Diane was enjoying herself)