Last night we landed in Mwanza, Tanzania just after 8:00 pm local time, after over a day and a half of straight travelling. I’ve never traveled by plane before, and was pleasantly surprised that being so high up in the air isn’t that bad, and was also unpleasantly surprised that I can’t sleep on planes at all. When we landed, we had a wonderful taxi driver pick us up and bring us to the hostel that we’re staying at for the time being. Overtired, jetlagged, and nervous, I was driven through the dark streets of Mwanza, still alive with lots of people. On the way, our driver told us in broken English to be very careful with our things and instructed us not to go outside at night. I arrived at the hostel and registered with the other interns, and then was brought to my room. Cue messy meltdown.
As exhausted as I was, I didn’t sleep well last night. I was in a new setting, probably overtired, and frankly I was terrified to be in this place. I wanted to go home. Everything was foreign; I am aware that, being in a foreign country, I will encounter foreign things, but never realized how much I would crave familiarity when plunged into this space. I guess that shows just how much I’m in over my head.
I woke up today to my first day in Mwanza. The taxi driver from last night, who has been very helpful to WHE interns in the past, picked us up at 10:00 am and brought us to get our money exchanged, our phones set up, and to eat lunch. She was so friendly and helpful, even though I speak barely any Swahili and have just realized that even my English is terrible when I’m talking to someone who is just learning English. I am slowly learning Swahili, and got by enough today just saying “Asante” to everyone as much as I could (“asante” means thank you).
Next on the agenda was a meeting scheduled at 2:00 pm with Maimuna, who I will be working for this summer. Maimuna had also asked Bernard, the director of Education for Better Living, to attend the meeting as well. Education for Better Living (EBLI) helps young mothers complete their schooling. We had a great meeting. We communicated what was expected of us interns, and also what we expected from each organization. It will be wonderful working with both of them.
I am still worried that I won’t have anything to bring to my WHE project or to Mikono Yetu. I have no idea how I would come up with ideas for planning and promoting events or fundraisers in such a different context, and I really don’t know the best way of going about interviewing women that have, in many cases, overcome much to be where they are. I’ve had it pretty easy, I feel like I don’t deserve to sit in front of people and ask them how they’ve been economically empowered and what it has done for them. I don’t know them, and I don’t even know their context or their culture. Who am I to assume that I can do something like this?
Day two in Mwanza, here I come. Let’s see what sorts of things you bring.