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Viel Spass beim Lesen!
Rundbrief Nr 4_Susan Waltisberg
My days are usually filled with daily routine and a lot of work – as it may be all over the world. Housework may be a bit more difficult, time taking and stronger than somewhere in the first world. But all in all, after a time, you loose the feeling of „doing something special“ or having a special life.
But even so, I never forget, that I am living in a such wonderful place and that I am blessed to have the chance to see „my“ country from time to time. On Easter Holiday, I enjoyed another bit of Safari Life. Together with my Swiss Family, the Interteam Development Workers Linda and Florian from Musoma, I travelled to Lake Natron. Linda and Flo have that huge Land Cruiser, in which everything needed for safari fits in: fuel for the car, water, food, tents, gaz cooker, kitchen equipment, tools and so on.
We started in Musoma and took one of the roads passing the Serengeti. The gate we entered Tanzanias best knwon and biggest National Parc is not very popular to tourists and not very much used. It was quite hard to find someone to get the permission and paying the park fee was not possible at all. But that is not a problem at all, as you have to show your permission by leaving anyway again and at the gate, we planned to leave the parc, there is a propre office…
After miles and miles passing the savannah (spotting elephants, giraffes, buffalos, antilopes, zebras, gnus, warthogs, bushpigs, kudus, oryx, vultures and many more habitants of the Serengeti) and spending a night in a rather cold place called Waso, we reached Lake Natron. Not without having a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. But Linda and Florian are real „fundis“ and can fix everything on their car, I guess. At Ngare Sero we found a place where they could fix the tire and a campground with really good sanitation facilities and friendly Maasai hosts. As we were travelling out of the touristic season, we were the only guests there and enjoyed our time. At sunrise, we went with our guide to the lake, enjoyed the view of the sun rising behind a mountain and spotted the flamingos, Lake Natron is famous for. Even it was not breeding season when the lake is crowded of flamingos, there were quite many of them. At the lake shore, we spotted zebras, gnus and giraffes.
On our way back from Lake Natron, we stayed in the Serengeti over night. There are some lodges and different styles of campgrounds in the National Parc. Public Campgrounds are areas, where you find a covered place to eat, toilets and showers and sometimes covered sheds for your tent. That’s it. There is no fence, no ranger, no host – just you and the creatures of the Serengeti. And (out of season!) we were just the three of us out there in the wilderness under the most beautiful stars sprinkled sky. Going to toilet in pairs… Not locking the car to have the chance to jump in, in case an unfriendly „visitor“ is looking for food or so… At night, buffalos were grazing around our tents and shortly before sunrise, a bunny was hopping around the place.
We enjoyed our holidays, thankful being in a country, where your „backyard“ is like paradise may have been before human beings messed it up… Now back in daily routine, we all have some new plans in our minds.
On March 22nd, Maji Safi Group celebrated World Water Day (WWD) in Shirati, Tanzania and Denver, Colorado. WWD was created by the UN to spread awareness about water-related issues, to inspire us to improve our personal water-related habits, and to encourage people to protect and preserve one of life’s most essential resources.
In Shirati, Tanzania, we celebrated water and taught over 1,000 community different ways to attain clean and safe water. In the market area we set up five demonstration tents to teach the community about SODIS, ceramic filters, using chlorine tablets, and boiling and filtering water. We even took this opportunity to teach community members about female hygiene and managing waste. Each tent was equipped with interactive demonstrations that allow community members to identify the best way to provide clean and safe water for their family at home.
To make the day even more fun, we invited community artists to perform. These artists participated in last year’s Shirati’s Got Talent event. Community members also enjoyed watching educational videos about Maji Safi Group and water related issues.
We look forward to another year of educating the community about the importance of water!
Time ago, I provided you a cat story, because cats and internet are going so well together. As a lot of people are more fancy about dogs, I guess it’s time, to write about my two big babies. Silas and Irdhi are twin brothers and came to us, as they were just four weeks old. I was so sure, that they will die soon, that I did not take pictures of them. Because they were soooo cute and sweat and I could hold both of them in one hand. My brother Gilbert used to feed them several times a day with milk out of a bottle. Sometimes, he added some sugar to the milk – he was also scared sometimes, that they would die. After a few weeks and after Gilbert and I built them a nice house in my backyard, they moved to „Mama“ Susan’s place.
They were nearly falling into their food…
Silas was the strong one, Irdhi was a bit weak and one evening, he nearly died. The veterinary from Shirati could safe his life, but he was struggling for a long time.
Silas turned out to be cheeky and ready, to try everything out. Like escaping the dog house.
So they as time went on, they grew into big, strong watch dogs, taking care for the security on our compound.
We also explored Shirati together, went up on the hills and to the lake.
With Bobby, the cat, they get friends, and they protect the cat like they were big brothers. Sometimes, they eat together but everyday they love to play together.
So they became teenagers and most of all Silas grow into a sometimes really angery bunch of hormons. In the meantime, he’s the small one, as poor little weak Irdhi turned into a big massive dog. Irdhi still seems to believe he’s a little dog and wants to play like a puppy – and to lick everyone. People are afraid of Irdhi, because he is big and wants to play with everybody, but the dangerous one is Silas. I guess, because he lost somehow his position or so. One day, Silas was so angry, he bite me in my hand. The wounds were not big, but deep. I had to go to the hospital and get antibiotics and was afraid to get an infection. Bad beahvior!!!!
In December 2015, they figured out, there is much more fun out of the compound: there are female dogs to have fun with. Silas escaped several times and came back with wounds. I had to chain them even at night. Irdhi was howling all night long and the whole family could not sleep anymore. So the time was definitely come, to meet the doctor.
I witnessed in the beginning of last year, how a regional „specialist“ did a castration of a dog. And I had to assist. It was terrifying. Even the dog get an injection, the poor animal could feel everything, was not sleeping or dizzy at all. So for me it was clear, that was no way of doing it with my babies. I found a real good veterinary from Mwanza. Sometimes, he’s also working in Musoma. So we put the dogs into a car and went to Musoma. It was a crazy drive, but we made it. We could stay at my friends house in Musoma and there also the surgeries happened (see pictures below).
After about three days Silas and Irdhi were fit again and enjoying their new life, without „balls“… Irdhi did not really change is behavior. But Silas seems to be a different dog. He wants to be hugged and caressed, wants to lick me all the time and is (right now) not aggressive at all anymore. We will see, what time will bring…
Since the beginning of December 2015, Maji Safi Group is out in the field again, teaching and informing thousands of people. At marketplaces, where the fishermen meet, at schools, at family homes, as a part of village meetings etc. The big difference to our work we did in April/May, is, that we enlarged the aerea, we do our work again. For a whole week, the Community Health Worker stayed in Musoma and taught hundreds of citizens in that region. Musoma is about 2,5 hours drive by car from Shirati away.
But this time, we work even closer together with the governement. Maji Safi Group was asked from official side, to support the governement in the fight against cholera. Every day, we receive the actual data about new cases, how many sick people stay in hospitals, how many were released from hospitals, died or are still in „bedstate“.
Maji Safi Group is actually supported by the governement with first aid supplies (such as ORS, gloves etc.), flyers, posters and fuel for the car. From the WHO, we received teaching material, which is now daily in use. But as not all the costs are covered, our colleagues in the US are very busy trying to find money and donators.
The Community Health Workers did just have a short break on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – and worked all other days. It is impressing, how motivated they are. They are really tired by now and some of them started compensating overtime and getting some holidays. As they definitely need to rest and recover, we have a rotation system, that all of them can get some holidays.
At the moment, it looks like the number of cases is going down. But we just read a report from the UN and the WHO, concerning the El Niño-phenomenon (read also this article). Due to the weather conditions, there is a high possibility, that the cases will raise again and other diseases may break out as well. So we just hope, that we will soon have a bit time to go back to work „as usual“, with our different programs for the citizens of Shirati and that Tanzania will not be hit by more diseases.
„Nipo!“ is Kiswahili and means „I am here!“. It is also used in greetings, as answer to the question „Upo?“. Maybe you thought already, I disappeared… No way, I have a busy, funny, adventurous life out here. I am completely fine. But I have had real heavy problems with internet connections. But, keep your fingers crossed that it last for a long time, it seems, my struggles have an end. A new company (origin from Korea or so…) is establishing network (phone and internet) in Tanzania. They fight quite agressive against the long established player on the Tanzanian market. In rural aereas, we profit a lot of that strategy: we finally have a quite good working internet connection out here. The company even sets up new antennas in many places.
And here, we all are excited and happy to have new and more antennas – while in Switzerland many people fight hard against it. But if you have a real need, things look different, as always.
So now, that I have better chances to get online than just wrote some words on Facebook (this tool works even with the slowest connections sometimes), I will catch up with some stories and let you know about actual „going-ons“ in and around Shirati.
If the internet is willing, I can update you about the Global Handwashing Day. On October 15th, we’ve celebrated again. It was already the second time since I’ve started to work in Shirati. Also this time we’ve visited schools and taught students of all ages in the eight steps of proper handwashing. In the afternoon there was a big party at the Maji Safi Group’s office in Shirati, the children played, draw paintings and were taught about disease prevention and for sure, handwashing.
In comparison to last year’s Siku ya Kunawa, it was a complete different event for me. Last year, I hardly understood the language, had not much experience in the work of Maji Safi Group and did not feel really helpful… This time, I knew a lot more and could support the Community Health Workers and get in interaction with the children. It was a successful event for Maji Safi and for myself.
On October 3, over 450 Shirati community members gathered at the Maji Safi Group office to partake in the third annual Miss Maji Safi competition. During the event, women of all ages united to break the silence about female health and hygiene. Young women and Community Health Workers from the MSG Female Hygiene Program worked tirelessly to create original songs and dances about the importance of female hygiene. They also performed skits about girls starting their first period at school and preventing early pregnancies. The MSG Singing & Dance group joined the celebration by singing original songs and poems about stopping open defecation and preventing disease.
The big finale of the event came when the guest judges announced the 2015 Miss Maji Safi and Miss Mabalozi. I was really happy, to have Linda Stamm from Musoma as one of our judges. So we could spend another great weekend together, as she and Florian stayed at my place…
Contestants were judged on their confidence, their ability to talk to the public about sensitive issues, and their knowledge of female hygiene and WASH. We are excited to announce that Robi Benjamin was chosen as this year’s Miss Maji Safi, and Mereciana Kenedy was named Miss Mabalozi. Congratulations to the winners and a huge thank you to all the participants!