Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Nine to Five (part 1)

Okay, so I'm not quite working a nine to five job yet*, but this week I've had the opportunity to spend 2 days in my future work site. We're on midterm break from language school and we're back in Mwanza to take care of some biashara (that is, business), including not just visiting our work sites, but also house hunting, learning to drive a manual car on the left-hand side of the road**, and getting our drivers license. Needless to say, it's been a jam-packed week!

Yesterday I joined forces with George O. (a fellow MKLMer/civil engineer who works in my office), Tanzanian George (our coworker), and a colleague from the women's desk (my future office). George-squared had to go out into the rural area to check on some dams that they were having constructed/maintained with help from the Food for Work Program. While out there, they also wanted to visit a priest who has opened a boarding school for unwed teen mothers. The school has no water, so the priest wanted a consult from the Georges on how he could engineer a water system for the school and dorms. George O. thought it would be interesting if my colleague and I tagged along to see the school and talk with the girls. Plus, I could see some of the rural area, as well as get a glimpse of the work they do in the other divisions of my office.

The ride out into the rural area was so beautiful! Words cannot capture the beauty. Nor could my camera. It's the rainy season, so everything is green and lush. There are beautiful rocks and boulders littering the landscape. Kids walk cows, goats, and sheep down the road and through the fields. Women in brightly colored cloths work in the fields along the horizon.

I posted some pictures over at Flickr of the scenery and the dams we visited, but the website's being weird and I can't grab them to paste on the blog. So I'll have to do do that later.

The school we visited yesterday was really interesting. The priest who started it is young, having been ordained in 2009. He's in charge of 2 rural parishes, each with over a dozen outstations. Yet he's managed to open this school for 48 teen girls. He's partway through the process of expanding the school and constructing new buildings. His vision is for the school to house several hundred students. This is quite a unique concept in this country. Unwed teens often are forced to drop out of school either because of the shame or because they don't have the time to go to school anymore. School is only required*** up to grade 7 here, so kids often drop out after that anyway. And girls are expected to do a large brunt of the housework. So having a child on top of that is usually a guarantee that it's the end of schooling for a teen mom.

My colleague and I visited a classroom and briefly met the girls. They were all about 17-20 years old. They were very interested in having us come out and speak to them in the future and do programming on gender equality for women. I'm not sure if I will end up doing any projects out there in the future, but it certainly was an educational experience just to go out and see what's being done.

Okay, I'm super exhausted and this is a long enough post as it is. More on day 2 at the job site later!

*Other than learning the language, which in and of itself is a 24 hour job!

**...while navigating in traffic with tons of pedestrians in/around the road, bikes, pikipiki (motorcycles) w/ passengers riding on the back, dalla dalla (buses) with people hanging out the window yelling, etc...

***I say "required" but there's no enforcement, so it is quite common for kids, especially in rural areas and on farms, to not be enrolled in school.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So exciting to get started with your understanding of the work ahead!!! Great job with your Swahili too (I read the other post first)!!!! You are going to do amazing things!!!! I look forward to hearing all about it!-Kaiser