Monday, September 09, 2013

Natafuta Kazi

I've been reluctant to post about this I guess because I didn't want people to think I'm out here doing absolutely nothing, having a 3 1/2 year vacation. Also because we're currently fundraising for our new projects and honestly, folks, the money is going to be used for projects! But once I post this you might question why you should help us (me) out.

But if I'm to be perfectly honest, I'm quite bored. And disappointed. And not really sure why I'm here. We're still waiting to settle things at the university where we hope to teach this fall and the little voice in the back of my head has started to ask, "What happens if that doesn't work out?" When I left Kivulini* I thought things with other ministries would fall into place a lot quicker, but the reality is that I've basically been doing very little work for the past month. I mean, I always have things to do--boil drinking water, cook everything from scratch, go to the market. You know, the normal, time-consuming things that I've gotten used to fitting into a full-time work schedule. I've been trying to make an effort to be with Tanzanians more, visiting people or having them over. And I do have a bit of work work, what with planning and developing the girls' program I'll be running in the parish, as well as Maryknoll office work. But still, I've got a lot of downtime.

I'm usually pretty good at filling downtime but when it gets to be too much I start to feel depressed and a bit rudderless. I keep reminding myself that once everything I've been planning comes through I'll have a very full plate. But still, it's hard to feel fulfilled NOW, when everyone I talk to at home is actually doing something fun/challenging/interesting.

Today I got to thinking about the people who are always approaching me looking for work. "Natafuta kazi," they say. (I'm looking for work.) EVERYONE in TZ is looking for work. Even if someone has a job they're constantly looking for something that'll pay more, that'll have better working hours, that'll be closer to their house. And for others who are completely without paying work, I sometimes see them sitting outside a storefront chatting with neighbors or just hanging around. And I'm ashamed to admit that on occasion I've thought, "Why don't they DO something? Anything. They could find work if they looked."

But what a hypocrite I am to think that! First, TZ has a serious problem with a lack of jobs, Mwanza in particular. Plus, most ordinary people aren't educated, have few skills and little resources to even seek out work. And here I am, educated, with some skills, tons of resources and advantages, and I can't even find work. Granted, I'm looking for very specific work and something that will be meaningful to me. (That concept is almost completely foreign here and that's a separate blog post for another day.) But still, I have a sneaking suspicion we're in the same boat, y'all.

So maybe, if anything, by having this waiting period, by experiencing these feelings of self worthlessness (is that even a thing?) and recognizing how much not working does to my sense of lacking personal and societal accomplishment, maybe I'm one step closer to understanding just a little bit more about how an average Tanzanian feels in their struggles to find work. And maybe I  understand even more the need to build people's skills, their self esteem and to raise their level of education so that they are more marketable and better able to find those things in life that will make them understand how valuable they are.

*OH! Did I mention in this space that I left Kivulini? I've talked about it in newsletters and other places but now that I've just gone back and reread my posts for the past month, I guess I never clearly stated it here. I think I was waiting for everything to fall into place. Haha, how silly that thought seems now. Anyhoo, yeah, I left Kivulini. I'm starting the girls group mentioned above. Chris and I are hoping to start teaching at a local university and we also will most likely be helping said university to develop and start a social work degree program. There's also a little something else I might be doing to help with another program but I'm not talking about that yet because it's way less formal and I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch (which I'm afraid I maybe did already what with leaving my job for all this stuff that's still in the air. Sigh).


Anonymous said...

well all that work setting up things and processing your feelings is actually work. :) you sound frustrated....maybe consider how much our deeply rooted american values of work have played in this scenario and how your life's work is made up of all those conversations and dinner parties and katie waldie reid smiles!!! seriously. keep finding other ways to feel fulfilled and recognize that you are making a difference even if you cannot see it now. Love ya girl, Kaiser

Waldie said...

Thanks, Kais. You're the best!