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April 26

Time seems to be flying by. The days have turned into weeks, and the weeks into months, and before we know it, we’ll be on a plane headed home to Canada. We have 47 days left in Mwanza, which may seem like a lot. However, once you take into consideration the bit of travel that we still have planned (a trip to Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Ngorongoro Crater and Mt. Meru), we have only 33 days left in Mwanza. Even those will fly by, given that yogurt production is nearly in full swing, with all 12 families producing and consuming yogurt six days per week. So, things are taking off, and soon, so will we.

This week's events were similar to those of last week, however, two pieces of exciting news came about that we are dying to share with you. The first being that the next set of interns have been selected and are beginning to prepare for their departure (tentatively scheduled for June 10, 2005). We are so excited to be able to meet them and introduce them to the Kivulini staff and the yogurt mamas. We’re also looking forward to helping them get to know the lay of the land and settle in. The second piece of exciting news is that there is a possible donor who is interested in funding the completion of the community kitchen construction project. This is wonderful news for the project and for the community, as the kitchen represents an important landmark in ensuring that the project is truly sustainable. Having yogurt production move to the community kitchen will hopefully help increase the women’s ownership over the project and will allow them to take control now and for years to come. A trip back to Mwanza for us in the future would be an incredible experience, especially to visit with the original families to see how they are all doing.

In the hopes of seeing a little more of Tanzania, we decided to take a trip to Ukerewe (oo-kay-ray-way) Island this past weekend. The island is located on Lake Victoria, a short 2.5 hour ferry ride northeast of Mwanza City. We hoped to catch an early morning ferry, but unfortunately the earliest ferry was scheduled to leave at 12:30 p.m. We arrived early at the port, and a ferry was docked and unloaded. The guard let us onto the dock to look around. We walked around for a bit and made our way to the top level where we saw a great view of the harbour. Before sitting down on the benches, we noticed they were marked “life jackets." Out of curiosity we decided to take a peak, and sure enough there weren’t any life jackets anywhere. We were happy to see that there were at least a few lifeboats with enough room to save maybe 50 of the likely two or three hundred people who would be on board. This was somewhat surprising, given that in 1996 a poorly maintained ferry capsized some 50 metres off shore and all 550 or so passengers perished. We thought that perhaps the ferries would be more vigilant in ensuring appropriate safety measures. After sitting around for a while and wondering if we were on the right boat, we heard the whistle of another ferry that was docking on the other side of the port. We suddenly realized that we were on the wrong boat! We quickly left (thank goodness the wrong ferry wasn’t scheduled to leave until the next day) and waited for the inbound ferry to be unloaded before getting onboard.

The ferry ride to the island was a steady one, which was good for Cynthia (and everyone onboard in Cynthia’s proximity) given her track record with motion sickness. The trip provided us with a wonderful view of Mwanza and all the little villages along the waterfront. Once we arrived, a friend's father, who happened to be making the same trip to the island to do some work for the National Institute of Medical Research, drove us to a hotel, where he arranged our accommodations for the night. After a drink we decided to walk around town to check things out. It is a very different place from Mwanza in that it had a more rural atmosphere. The people were amazed to see “wazungus,” since not that many "Europeans" visited the island. After watching the sun set we headed back for dinner and a good night's sleep.

The next morning we woke up early to see the sunrise and after breakfast headed out to rent some bikes. The plan was to bike up to the old palace that once belonged to the king of Ukerewe, but was now lived in by a local family. Unfortunately, we didn’t find the palace, but had a fantastic 2.5 hour bike ride (which, for the most part, was on dirt roads that were quite hilly). We checked out of the hotel and headed back to the port to catch the 12:00 p.m. ferry. The ferry, however, didn’t end up leaving port until nearly 2:30 p.m.

The ferry ride was an interesting one, given that when the boat was loaded, it was not done so evenly and therefore listed to one side, rocking back and forth more than on the way in. We were happy to arrive safely in Mwanza and head back to our apartment!

This week will be a busy one with six days of yogurt making. We hope that things continue to move ahead smoothly as they have been so far.

Until next week,

Brian and Cynthia :0)

May 2, 2005 | Permalink

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